Friends, family and friends of my family have spent years and years and years attempting a futile task; getting me to watch the original British version of the comedy game show Taskmaster.
They have raved at me about how hilariously great it is and then ranted at me when it became obvious that their raves were falling on deafly uninterested ears.
Their reasons as to why I would definitely enjoy it have been well reasoned, their convictions convincing and I really can't argue against their many - and tireless- arguments about why it's a show I would very much enjoy.
What can I say? After all the repeated recommendations I honestly have no good reason as to why I haven't just sat down and watched the thing. I just, kinda... didn't wanna.
I mean, come on. Comedians doing kerr-rrazy and wacky tasks like, say, constructing a sail boat out of a slab of butter, a bucket of fish bones and selected pages from the third chapter of Tolstoy's seminal work War and Peace while balancing on an upside down rocking horse and singing 'My Heart Will Go On', while someone makes snide quips about how poorly this task is being accomplishing before sprinkling an arbitrary score upon their efforts?
Meh. As "funny" as that sounds... it didn't really sound like it was for me. Even though damn near everyone I know was saying it was.
So when TVNZ announced they were making a local version of the show I sighed a weary sigh. Not because it was another in a long string of local photocopies of overseas shows instead of something new, bold and exciting, but rather because I knew it would reanimate all those conversations about why I should be watching a show I was deeply disinterested in.
And thus over the long weekend it came to pass. Guests from out of town came to stay, asked if I'd watched Taskmaster yet and then said I really should because I would really like it. Fatigued by the endless fight, and exceedingly aware of this looming column deadline, I finally threw in the towel, flicked on TVNZ OnDemand and got around to watching Taskmaster.
Being a patriotic sort who loves his country, and perhaps feeling a tad contrarian about the matter, I did however opt for the local version over the glitzy import. Go Kiwi and all that.
"For all intents and purposes of this licensed television format, I am the Taskmaster," intoned Jeremy Wells from a plush throne to open the show. "Ten weeks, five comedians will seek my approval by doing things I've asked them to do. Why are they doing this? For attention I suppose. Some probably need the money. And all of them want this; my golden head."
He said that last bit pointing to a trophy that was a gold painted, plaster cast of his face. Verily, it was the kind of thing that would look pleasingly awful on your mantelpiece so I understand the contestants desire to claim it.
I also understand the desire to get paid so full credit to Angella Dravid, Madeline Sami, Brynley Stent, Guy Williams and Leigh Hart for taking on the task of completing the taskmaster's tasks.
Having not seen the UK version I have no basis for comparison but I can tell you that the Kiwi remake started off okay. There was some mildly humorous bants about bants followed by a mildly humorous run through of items the contestants couldn't live without. Stent offered her boyfriend, Hart a guitar and Dravid her anti-anxiety medication.
The second task escalated the challenge; build a sculpture using only items that start with their assigned letter. "The first thing that comes to my mind is dick," Sami said, holding up a 'D'. "Which is funny given I'm married to a woman."
Up next, make a fancy cocktail using ingredients that rhyme with each other. That's pretty tricky and led to co-host Paul Williams uttering what is possibly the greatest sentence in local television sentence this year; "What is bunny?" before Guy Williams dropped what is possibly the worst admission in local television this year; "I've drunk my own piss.".
It was at this point I started to wonder what my friends, relatives and sibling thought of me. This? This is what they'd spent years recommending?
I mean, sure, it was okay and yeah, I'd chuckled along with it in the appropriate places. Not as raucously as the obviously cranked-up-to-11-laughter from the studio audience, but there were a few lols here and there. Still, I like to think my humour palate is a little more sophisticated than consuming your own urine.
So is Taskmaster up to the Task? Well, sure, I guess. It's okay. There's some good gags and it's great to see our comedians on screen. But still, it's not for me.