Chuck Barris, who had been a game show producer prior to this show and was not a polished game show host, had an apparently nervous habit of occasionally clapping his hands together while talking. This developed into a running gag during the show, as the audience members clapped their hands in unison with Barris whenever they saw him doing it. The show had certain characters who appeared as regular "performers", such as the "Unknown Comic" who told bad jokes while wearing a paper bag over his head. Also appearing was Gene Gene the Dancing Machine, a middle-aged black man with a green warm-up suit who came onstage to dance while members of the crew threw random - and not harmful - items at him. Gene Gene's arrival was always treated as a surprise to everyone on the show, especially Barris, who would then commence to frolic on the set. The Gene Gene the Dancing Machine segments were perhaps the most pure expressions of raw joy ever seen on television.
In 1980, a Gong Show movie was produced. This movie was considered among the worst ever made.