About a year ago while drowning in the pressures of school, I fell down a very deep hole of watching British comedy panel shows on YouTube. Yes, that is a hyper-specific genre to get into, but believe me when I say there is plenty to appreciate about it. British humour is generally witty and clever, snappy, and sarcastic — it’s a bit like watching old grandmothers bickering at each other, and how can you not love that?
The thing is, Canadian and American humour traditionally tend to lean more towards physical gags and slapstick than the sharp banter of British panel shows. But in that YouTube rabbit hole I followed a year ago, I found a show that perfectly balances the more physical comedy of North America with its wittier British counterpart: Taskmaster. And it is brilliant.
Taskmaster is a game show where five comedians must perform random tasks given to them by the Taskmaster, who then judges how well they do and awards them 1-5 points based on their performance. At the end of the series, the contestant who’s won the most points wins the season and a golden trophy of the Taskmaster’s head (yes, it’s a real trophy). But don’t let that fool you — this is absolutely not a serious affair. To give you a primer of what this show is like, here’s a list of some of the tasks that past contestants have had to do:
- Throw a potato into a golf hole
- Make and sing a song about a stranger you’ve just met
- Tell the Taskmaster you love him in the most meaningful way
- Don’t blink (last to blink wins)
- Paint the best picture of a horse whilst riding a horse
- Bring in the most unusual autograph on the most unusual vegetable
- Impress a mayor
- Physically recreate a classic video game
- And a lot more
There are so many things about this show to love. Is it the way the tasks get crazier and crazier as each episode goes on? Is it the hilariously awkward banter between the menacing Taskmaster, Greg Davies, and his cowardly assistant, Alex Horne, and their incredibly weird relationship? Or is it just the way you get to see a bunch of out-of-their-depth comedians get sucked into caring about whether a coconut looks like a businessman? It’s all of those things and more.
Now in its tenth season, I think what makes Taskmaster so special is the way you get sucked into each and every moment alongside the contestants. You see all the work and insane things they do for the show, and you want them to succeed. There are contestants who are straight-forward and just try to get the job done, and there are others who try to bend the rules to work in their favour. There’s screaming and arguing, pride and horrific embarrassment, pain and frustration, shame and light-headed triumph. There are a few shining, brilliant moments of genius, and hundreds of other moments where you see someone fail over and over again until they get it right (or don’t).
It’s a show where you can’t help but watch and ask yourself how you would’ve done it. And that’s what keeps you hooked as you watch comedians attempt something that really doesn’t mean a thing other than to be silly. It’s a perfect blend of contestants doing crazy, ridiculous physical tasks and friendly, mocking, banter and argument as they try to justify themselves to get points. It’s the perfect show if you’re looking to feel silly and have a good time — something we all need to do in this season.
Full episodes of seasons 1-7 are available on YouTube. Watch the first episode here: