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The Flip Side of Tom Bergeron


While working at WHAV Bergeron took night classes at Northern Essex University. There he received his first mime and theater training. Those who hear Bergeron nightly on the radio may not know the extent of his theatrical training. Escaping briefly from radio, Bergeron traveled to New York. There he performed a half-monologue half-mime nightclub show. Not yet ready to become part of the "Big Apple" he returned to New England.

Tom Bergeron publicity pic ABC TVThe next stop for Bergeron upon returning was Celebration Mime Theatre in South Paris, Maine. He got extensive training from the famous mime Tony Montanaro. He then started at WHEB in Portsmouth, NH in the 7 pm to 12 am slot, taking the place of Norm Thibeau. Here the basic Tom Bergeron-style was born.

His radio format is relaxed, to say the least. Bergernon places phone calls over the world to talk to interesting people on-air. He sees his show as a performance, not just throwing records on the turntable. Every night the DJ goes on the air and has to give the impression that he is constantly having a good time. Between 10:30 to 11:30 pm, he runs into the fourth hour slump. This is where the acting really comes out, he says.

As a promotion for WHEB, the radio crew produced "The Great Radio Show". The show, a collection of skits and comedy routines, was presented at Theatre-by-the-Sea, an intimate grassroots stage originally set up in an old grain warehouse on the waterfront in Portsmouth, NH.

Tom Bergeron publicity pic ABCMonday Night Live came next. Bergeron and morning DJ Bill McDermod campaigned for jobs on the popular TV show Saturday Night Live. Their self-promotional campaign promised, if hired, that they would revive the show’s sagging ratings. Fans made phone calls, sported buttons and a launched a letter-writing campaign to bring the boys to Hollywood.

It didn’t fly, but it was here that Bergeron saw the potential for a one-man show. During a vacation from radio, he wrote, directed and starred in "For one Night Only, All Week Long". The four-day variety show marathon also ran at Theatre by the Sea where host Bergeron mimed, sang, presented comic skits and flirted with some serious acting. His guest performers included singer Randa McNamara, musicians Ebaucher and Hyde and the Kitchen Sink Mime Theatre.

Asked if he has more hidden talents, Bergon said, "I’ve got some talents that can’t be legally exhibited."

"I had a strong year at Theatre by the Sea, Bergeron says. "I’d like to go somewhere else, do something else. My next step would be a move into the television environment, maybe doing an interview-style program in which I’d also be able to perform."

In conclusion Bergeron says, "I’m responsible for what I am and what I want to be. I’m not trying to live by another’s standards."

Written by Keith Nelson and JP Smith. Originally published in the Exeter High School Talon, October 1981, J. Dennis Robinson advisor/editor. Update copyright © 2007 by All rights reserved. 

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