Begin The Thawing Of Jim Nabors! - Macleans.ca

Begin The Thawing Of Jim Nabors!

by

The formula of Britain’s Got Talent increasingly seems to be based on a very old gag: an unexpected vocal sound coming from a person who doesn’t seem to match the voice. Paul Potts, Susan Boyle, and now Greg Pritchard. The key moments on the show usually revolve around the surprise of Simon, and the audience, that that sound could be coming out of that frame. In a sense, arguments about how good the singing is, or what Susan Boyle does afterward, are beside the point. The important thing is to build to those moments with people who don’t sound like they look.

Like I said, it’s actually a plot device that pre-dates reality competition TV. Every other episode of Gomer Pyle had that joke (can you believe this goofy-looking hick has a big baritone voice?). Then you’ve got Barney’s tenor voice in the barbershop-quartet episode of The Simpsons, itself a nod to a sketch from The Jackie Gleason Show, and then there are all the cartoons that used the joke, like the big dumb orange cat who sings soprano.

As so often happens, reality TV has taken an old fictional plot device with roots in reality (many people don’t sing the way they talk) and turned it into a real-life plot device that feels fictional.