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Posts Tagged ‘Greg Davies’

According to the internet, this week marked National Relaxation Day (Aug 15) and National Tell A Joke Day (Aug 16). The juxtaposition of these days is rather fitting since I find a laugh is what’s needed when I want to relax. Whether I’m immersed in the intensity of gritty British TV dramas or just trying to survive the pressure of being a library worker in the midst of solar eclipse glasses mania, in my experience making the conscious decision to laugh is always the right one. And my genre of choice in these situations is usually a comedy panel show.

This week I happened upon series four a show called Taskmaster so I thought it the perfect time to share my feelings about this entertaining and stress-busting program with you. Heaven knows we’ve all got anxieties now more than ever.

Greg Davies, extremely tall stand-up comedian and star of Man Down, Cuckoo and The Inbetweeners, performs the titular role of the Taskmaster. His purpose is to issue simple, if not a bit bizarre, tasks to five comedians who are asked to complete them in the most efficient and out-of-the-box manner possible. His assistant (and also creator of the show) Alex Horne umpires the challenges and plays the part of Davies’ willing minion for laughs. At the end of each task, Davies ranks the performances of the competitors according to his whims and his penchant for mockery and assigns points accordingly.

Joining Greg and Alex on the show this season were Outnumbered dad Hugh Dennis; former GBBO presenter Mel Giedroyc; Mighty Boosh troupester and new GBBO presenter Noel Fielding and two young comedians previously unknown to me Lolly Adefope and Joe Lycett.

What kind of assignments must the comedians complete? Well, each episode starts with the Prize Task, in which Davies sets a theme and each contestant donates a prize to offer up. The motifs have included most unusual autograph on the most unusual vegetable, the most surprising picture of themselves and in this clip their best membership/subscription. At the end of episode, all the prizes are awarded to the comedian who earned the most points in that week’s show.

Other nefarious tasks set over the course of the eight week run of Taskmaster involved:

Identifying the objects in a sleeping bag without taking the objects out of the bag.

Hugh Dennis sleeping bag

Hugh Dennis feeling up a sleeping bag

 

Destroy a cake. Most beautiful destruction wins.

Destroy cake

Mel Giedroyc decides how to best obliterate a cake

 

And my favorite task of the series – as a team, get a wheelie bin across an obstacle course, while one person is in the bin, the rest of team move the bin blindfolded, and everyone cannot speak English.

Wheelie bin race

Lolly Adefope, Noel Fielding and Joe Lycett prepare for the foreign language wheelie bin navigation task

At the end of the final episode, the comedians’ points are totaled and the one who has accumulated the most over the course of the series wins this:

Greg's head

Gold Noggin

Indeed I think it’s rather fortuitous that (SPOILER ALERT!!!) Mr. Fielding was the victor because no one else would want these spoils, right? Noel really had the right set of skills for this type of competition. With his keen sense of the surreal and an art school background, he had the proper mix of creativity and reckless abandon. He also ended up being more athletic than some might expect from a self-professed goth. Sometimes his devil may care attitude missed the mark as when he was disqualified for putting a wet suit atop his head instead of on his body during the small talk with Fred the Swede challenge, but overall his risks and unique perspective paid off. Perhaps Noel can use this big gold replica of Greg Davies’ head in one of his future art installations or stand-up routines. I’ve seen his live show so I know whereof I speak.

That being said (and those who know anything about me know I’m an avid Fielding fanatic), my favorite contestant had to be Mel Giedroyc. She was so genuine, enthusiastic and supportive during the course of the show that they compiled a montage of her all her authentic positiveness that is guaranteed to make you grin. Then in true Taskmaster style turned around and presented poor Mel with a super frustrating special task that involved hiding a gigantic beach ball from Alex in a wide-open football stadium. (Apparently her favorite swear word is bollocks.)

So if you find yourself in need of a tension-relieving chortle, may I suggest an episode or two of  Taskmaster?  In the US I found series four on Daily Motion. I apologize in advance for the all the repetitive advert breaks. In addition, series five is on its way to UK audiences very soon – September 13th to be exact.

All photo images are courtesy of Dave UKTV except the one of Greg’s head which was posted on Twitter by Alex Horne.

 

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image credit North One and Channel 4

image credit North One and Channel 4

Move over Michael Palin, Joanna Lumley, Stephen Fry and just about any other British celebrity who has presented a travel program. Richard Ayoade’s in town and he’s leaving forty-eight hours after arrival.

Last weekend during Winter Storm Jonas I binge-watched both series of Ayoade’s offbeat tourism program and delighted in every quirky moment.  (In the spirit of honest journalism and full disclosure, the winter storm didn’t really affect my part of the country. However, it was a good excuse to curl up on the couch and obsessively watch something funny as a symbol of solidarity with my less fortunate neighbors.)

The premise of Travel Man is that IT Crowd star and frequent celebrity panel guest Richard Ayoade undertakes the task of making mini-breaks more efficient and less boring. In aid of this he invites a celebrity mate to join him on his journey. I find it comical that a man who suffers from a number of conditions that make traveling unpleasant- sea sickness, vertigo and horse allergies – was given a show like this to present. Travel Man doesn’t shy away from the dark side of holiday making and neither should we.

Once at their destination city, Mr. Ayoade and his companion attempt to cram as many cultural experiences as possible into 48 hours with the ultimate goal being to answer the question “We’re here, but should we have come?”

What sort of cultural experiences you ask? Well, one important aspect of any society is their cuisine. In Vienna, Richard tried Käsekrainer (Austrian cheese sausage). In Paris he sampled snails and a calves’ head casserole. Copenhagen brought its A-game with open-faced sandwiches called smørrebrød (which you must eat from left to right on your plate). But probably the most courageous thing Richard attempted to ingest was this Icelandic delicacy:

While Ayaode doesn’t like everything he tries, he makes up his mind to give it a go without a lot of whinging, a la Karl Pilkington, for example. He also isn’t much of boozer, but he does imbibe at least a few sips of Carlsberg beer, schnapps, Sturm (that’s partially fermented grape juice), vodka at 10 am, and absinthe for God’s sake.

Seeing the city in some way other than a traditional bus tour is a must for our prudent sojourner. Be it mini hot rods, yacht, helicopter, or camel, it’s imperative to get a unique view and avoid a malodorous coach ride whenever possible. Nonetheless, if you can’t keep up with the tour guide, what’s the point?

 

Museums are another essential stop when it comes to travel abroad. From a self-guided street art tour in Paris or a stroll through the artistically lit Cisterns of Copenhagen to Moscow’s cosmonaut museum and collection of Soviet arcade amusements, interactive is the name of the game. Until someone or some thing gets hurt, that is…

 

At the close of a given episode we learn what each guest appreciated most about their holiday. Chris O’Dowd found Vienna clean, nice and he liked the shiny caravan with (almost)enough head room that Richard had booked for him instead of a hotel suite. Noel Fielding immensely enjoyed the midway horse racing game, Gallopen, that they played at the Tivoli Gardens (Walt Disney’s inspiration for his own Disneyland) in Copenhagen and Greg Davies marveled at their evening at the Moscow Cats Theater. However, the champion of answers came from Mel Giedroyc who sweetly claimed the best part of her holiday was hanging out with Richard. Perhaps she was angling for another mini-break in the next series, but I have to say despite my general distaste for the City of Lights, I thought the Paris episode was superior to all others.

 

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