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Local comedian appears on The Gong Show
By Michael Williams

Pigeon Forge comedian David Hirschi, known as Slim Chance, appeared on “The Gong Show” Thursday, July 12.

Herschi appears nightly at the Smoky Mountain Opry in Pigeon Forge where he juggles and performs comedy.

david hirschi
Image by David Herschi

Herschi got a call from the producers of the Gong Show after a friend sent in a video of the comedian performing his juggling act during which he balances a flaming grill on his chin while twirling a lasso. Hirschi received a total score of 21 from the panel of judges that consisted of Will Arnett, Jimmy Kimmel and Anthony Anderson.

“I was unaware my friend had sent that video in,” said Hirschi. “I flew to Los Angeles and spent two days there. We filmed the show at the Sound Stage at Sony Studios. It was the same studio where ‘Singing in the Rain’ and ‘The Wizard of Oz’ was filmed.”

The Gong Show is a reboot of the popular Chuck Barris production of the 1970s. The show features unusual acts that parodies traditional talent shows. The show is hosted by comedic actor Mike Myers who appears as Tommy Maitland.

Herschi’s act on the Gong Show was an abbreviated 90 second portion of his act. During filming Herschi sneaked out of the studio to explore although the producers had instructed the performers not to go out on the lot.

“There wasn’t any filming going on the other parts of the lot so there wasn’t much to see,” said Herschi. “After the show I got to meet with Jimmy Kimmel. He was very gracious. I didn’t have access to Mike Myers.”

Herschi performs six nights a week at the Smoky Mountain Opry as Slim Chance. He speaks in a squeaky voice reminiscent of Mr. Haney on “Green Acres.”

Now in his 11th season with Fee Hedrick, owners of Smoky Mountain Opry, Herschi has a long and impressive resume. He worked in Branson, Mo. in the Yakov Smirnoff Show. He earned a bachelor’s degree in biology at Virginia Tech. He has appeared in several theatrical productions, industrial videos, and a television mini-series “The Murder of Mary Phagan,” starring Jack Lemmon. He honed his juggling skills with appearances at Busch Gardens and Disney World theme parks.

His unique combination of theatrical experience and science education led to six years of writing, directing, and producing large-scale, science shows for The Science Museum of Virginia and The Science Museum of Minnesota. He also received consulting contracts from The Minnesota Zoo and The Science and Technology Museum in Atlanta to develop science-based theatrical productions.

​But in 1991, he shifted his career direction when he accepted an invitation to perform his juggling act in Las Vegas, which led to stints at the Excalibur, Maxim, Sands, and Aladdin hotels. Since then, he has worked full-time only as a professional entertainer.

After four years in Las Vegas, he moved to Branson in 1994 where he began performing at The Country Tonite Theatre. For the next four years he developed his new character, “Slim Chance,” which the entertainer describes as “a sophisticated, juggling hillbilly with an off-beat sense of humor.”

His “Slim Chance” act garnered him back-to-back Comedian of the Year titles at the Branson Entertainment Awards in 1995 and 1996 as well as the Country Comedian of the Year Award from the American News Journal in Houston, Texas.

Although, Herschi didn’t win the coveted Gong Show Award he wasn’t disappointed. “I wasn’t expecting to win,” said Herschi. “I was there to have fun and a unique experience.”

Published July 21, 2018

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