The $1.98 Beauty Show
|$1.98 Beauty Show|
|Created by||Chuck Barris|
|Presented by||Rip Taylor|
|Narrated by||Johnny Jacobs|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||78|
|Executive producer(s)||Chuck Barris|
|Running time||22–24 minutes|
|Original run||September 4, 1978– September 1980|
|Related shows||The Gong Show|
Hosted by Rip Taylor, the series is a parody of beauty contests, and featured six female contestants (including the occasional overweight ones, not-yet-famous Sandra Bernhard and actress Teresa Ganzel, and on at least one occasion a male dressed in drag) competing for the title of "$1.98 Beauty Queen".
The show consists of three rounds, during which each contestant is judged by three celebrity panelists. These include Jaye P. Morgan, Jamie Farr, Steve Garvey, Louis Nye, Marty Allen, and The Unknown Comic (Murray Langston). Emcee Taylor introduces the contestants one at a time.
Round 2 features each contestant showcasing their "abilities". Round 3 is a swimsuit competition, in which emcee Taylor ushers the contenders on stage and announcer Jacobs cracks jokes about their vital statistics and hobbies.
At the end of each show, Taylor announces the "$1.98 Beauty of The Week" (sometimes the episode's ugliest contestant); that contestant is then presented with a tacky plastic crown, rotten vegetables as a bouquet, and the titular cash prize of $1.98, which Taylor dispenses from a coin holder on his belt.
Music cues used on this show include "Happy Days Are Here Again" (Taylor's theme song), "Oh You Beautiful Doll", and "Ain't She Sweet". In addition, Taylor serenades the winning contestant as a parody of Bert Parks having done the same on the Miss America Pageant.
The show's bandleader, Milton DeLugg, used all the same musicians from the band heard on The Gong Show, plus two additional saxophone players for the first season only. Although the band pretty much played it straight on the show, one sketch seen in the first season featured a contestant who played the harmonica so horribly, most of her airtime was given to closeups of DeLugg and the other musicians playing their hot jazz licks.
The ridiculous format was Barris's very subtle way of mocking televised beauty contests in which the least attractive contestant often won the "beauty" prize. The announcer told the jokes while the comedian did the announcing and the three celebrity guests did not actually judge the contestants. The whole "contest" was fake because the outcome was previously arranged, as was noted in the introductory monologue by the announcer and the fine print of the closing credits of each episode.