Morro Bay resident Mark Wilder will make his national television debut this week doing something truly ridiculous: shooting hoops while balanced on top of a 7-foot-tall unicycle.
Wilder and San Luis Obispo resident Jonathan Nowaczyk appear Thursday on ABC’s “The Gong Show,” playing unicycle basketball for an audience that includes “Arrested Development” star Will Arnett and Ed Helms of “The Hangover” movies.
“It was just really, really fun being on that stage,” Wilder, 37, recalled.
He and Nowaczyk, 31, perform across California as the comedy juggling act Something Ridiculous. They also belong to the SLO Ballerz unicycle basketball team, which took silver at Unicon, the world unicycling championships, in 2016 in San Sebastian, Spain.
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Hosted by British comedian Tommy Maitland (actually “Austin Powers” star Mike Myers), “The Gong Show,” which premiered June 22, is the latest incarnation of the zany talent show than originally ran on NBC in the 1970s. Like the original, the new version features comedians, contortionists and other off-kilter performers showing off their skills for a panel of celebrity judges.
If the contestants fail, they’re ushered off stage to the sound of a giant gong. If they succeed, they stand a chance of winning a “Gong Show” trophy and a check for $2,000 — and 17 cents.
“It’s still super-wacky, super off-the-wall,” Wilder said of “The Gong Show.”
On Thursday’s episode, he and Nowacyzk don star-spangled shorts and tank tops to perform a silly basketball-themed routine they’ve honed during half-time shows at Cal Poly, Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria and the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Their quirky competition includes a cackling witch, a roller-skating limbo queen and opera-singing “butt puppets.”
Wilder can’t reveal how he and Nowaczyk fared on “The Gong Show.” But he said the pair poured their hearts into their performance, filmed over two days in May at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City.
“We went 110 percent high energy, over the top,” Wilder recalled.
Although “Community” cast member and judge Alison Brie praised the pair’s athleticism, Wilder said, “Ed Helms, more than anybody, appreciated our act.”
“There is absolutely nothing ridiculous about your act. You need to change your name from Something Ridiculous to Something Badass,” Helms says in the episode. “I enjoyed it immensely.”
‘The Gong Show’
“The Gong Show” airs at 10 p.m. Thursday on ABC.
Mark Wilder and Jonathan Nowaczyk perform as comedy juggling act Something Ridiculous at the Santa Barbara County Fair, July 12 through 16 in Santa Maria, and the California Mid-State Fair, July 19 through 30 in Paso Robles.