Greg Davies enjoys challenges of ‘Taskmaster’

Rick's Reviews

Greg Davies and Alex Horne star in “Taskmaster.” (Photo courtesy of CW Network)

(KGET) — The design of the new CW Network series, “Taskmaster,” looks like the comedy competition show was created during the middle of the current quarantine crisis. Each week a group of comedians are assigned odd tasks to earn points that look like those challenges could be done by families stuck at home.

Truth be told, “Taskmaster” has been airing in England for 90-plus episodes and started years before anyone even heard the word coronavirus. The design of the show that launches at 9 p.m. Aug. 2 in the United States was from a necessity to perform the first tasks in front of a live audience.

Greg Davies, who has the role of being the all-powerful taskmaster host, explains his on-screen sidekick Alex Horne created the formula for the show for a live appearance at the Edinburgh Comedy Festival.

“Alex was doing a standup show in Edinburgh and he got comedians during their down time to come do these ludicrous little tasks for him,” Davies says. “It was very homemade in its genesis and I think that small scale lunacy has made its way to the screen.”

The weird tasks the comedians face on the show range from having to make a ventriloquist dummy from household items to playing a large-scale game of hide-and-seek. Davies assigns points according to how well each participant does in completing the task.

“I take giving out the points very seriously although there are comedians across England who would argue I have no idea what I am doing,” Davies says.

The comedians might argue with his point method but that hasn’t stopped them from wanting to be part of the show. Davies explains that there was a core group of five comedians who were in the first seasons and the “Taskmaster” team will always be thankful for their willingness to be part of the show before much was known about it.

One of the big challenges of doing a program with multiple tasks in each show for so many episodes is coming up with all the tasks.

“There have been some times when the flavor of a previous task has been in a new task. There are only so many objects in the world,” Davies says. “I don’t think we have repeated a task line for line. That is a testament to the warped mind of my friend Alex.”

Davies admits some of the tasks have worked better than others. What makes all of the tasks work are the comedian contestants.

There is a good reason Davies is supportive of the comedian contestants. He is an award-winning stand-up comedian, writer and actor known for starring in the British comedy “Man Down.” His career has been a mix of TV shows – such as “The Inbetweeners” and the 2015 “Doctor Who” Christmas special (BBC One) – and movies such as voicing Balloon Man in the feature film “Teen Titans Go! To The Movies.” On stage, he performed as one third of the sketch trio We Are Klang who were nominated for the Edinburgh Comedy Award in 2006.

Before becoming a stand-up comedian, Davies was a teacher. He says standing in front of a crowd in a comedy club is a lot harder than a classroom of students.

“You can’t send a note home to the parents of those in a comedy club,” Davies says.

“Taskmaster” has been taking up a large portion of his time for the past few years. That has included him and the team behind “Taskmaster” taking advantage of the show’s homemade tasks to engage the public when the quarantine started. They did an online version that assigned tasks to viewers through YouTube.

Davies says one of the big surprises was that of the thousands of people who participated, a large number was from the United States. This response came before the program was airing here and Davies has no idea if that online response was the door to opening the show to becoming part of the CW Network schedule.

Whether or not that was the spark, the series has found a place on the air here. The first episodes airing in the United States are from the eighth and ninth seasons of “Taskmaster.” Davies laughs and says despite jumping into the program in the later seasons, there won’t be any problem catching up on the show.

“There is no story arch,” Davies says with a laugh.

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