Interviews: Taskmaster Series 4: Page 3 of 3

Noel Fielding:

Why did you decide to do Taskmaster?

Because I think it’s a really good show. It’s different. You get a bit tired of just doing panel shows - I love panel shows but you have to be funny sitting down for a lot of them so it’s fun when you actually get to stand up and do some stuff. Also, I really like Alex. I hosted Montreal Just for Laughs (in 2010) and he was on the bill so for a week we did a show and I got to know him then, I thought he was great. So that’s the main reason I did it. I definitely won’t watch my tasks though; I’ll watch the others.

Do you not like watching yourself?

I don’t mind it but it’s a bit weird. I don’t really any more. Unless it’s something I make – like a crafted weird narrative I’ll watch but I don’t really watch myself on panel shows. Hey, look there’s me doing what I always do, chatting away! Like an embarrassing idiot. I’ll watch this because I’m very inquisitive to know what other people did to see what happened, but I know I’ve embarrassed myself as well as surprised myself.

How have you surprised yourself?

Just by doing things I didn’t think I could do. There was a golf hole on a football pitch and I had to use a pool cue to hit a Babybel cheese and I hit it with a perfect golf swing and I don’t even play golf. They were like do you play golf? And I was like no! So that was quite surprising, I didn’t think I could do that. Maybe I’ll play when I’m older, I like the outfits! It’s sort of calming isn’t it golf. But anything that was arty or sporty I was good at and then anything that required logic or a Vulcan like mind, or maths or science I was hopeless at, which I knew!

How do you normally approach tasks are you generally quite practical?

I’m not a good practical person but I’m quite good at problem solving I think. I’m quite good with my hands in an artistic way. I wouldn’t know how to change a plug – I could work it out I’m sure but I couldn’t put a shelf up. I’d just be like I have no idea. I’m better at model making and painting; I’ve done a lot of that stuff so I’m not scared of it. It’s confidence with everything really – if you go in thinking you’re not going to pull it off, you don’t. You have to be positive.

Which were your favourite tasks?

All the arty ones because they were a little bit like a relief. And also, because I like making stuff. I had to make a portrait out of toilet paper. The problem is for this show that as soon as you let it go, that’s when you have your best ideas. So, you’re sort of tense because often there’s a clock so you’re going what can I do, what can I do? Then as soon as they say it’s over you think I should have done that! It’s insane how your brain just relaxes. I sort of did a self-portrait of myself out of toilet paper and as soon as it finished I thought I should have called it ‘Bog- roll Noel’ but it’s just gone - they go ‘it’s done’ and you go argh! You just have to not worry about making yourself look like an idiot. They gave you lots to think about while you’re doing other things too, which I like because I meditate and I think that’s what’s quite good about meditation is that you can think about a couple of different things at the same time. So you have something brewing while you’re percolating something else. The whole point is that you’re trying to clear your mind of all the rubbish so that all the good things come out. Since I started meditating I’ve felt I can write stuff while I’m doing something else – all these ideas will come out fully-formed which my meditation teacher said would happen and I doubted her! I went I’m not going to have any good ideas anymore! But she said you’ll have more, and be able to have ideas while you’re doing other things. I didn’t believe her but now I’ve done meditation I think that’s true. I’ve been coming up with fully formed things while I’ve been doing something else, which I never was able to do. It’s quite amazing to be producing double the amount, which is still not a lot with me. I need all the help I can get!

Which task were you most frustrated by?

Oh, there were so many. The first one I did I completely panicked and got it all completely wrong. I didn’t read it properly and made a tit of myself. But once you make a tit of yourself you’ve broken the seal and it doesn’t matter, you realise it’s ok. I got really upset about the football task because I didn’t have any football boots or trainers, and I was wearing these pointy high-heeled shoes. It was really muddy so I couldn’t get the ball in the bag with the shoes I had on and I was really annoyed because I’m quite good at football. They were my last gold Terry de Havilland boots; I was like I don’t want to ruin them for this task. But I couldn’t help but get angry because I was like I can do that! It’s killing me! If you have no expectations it’s fine but it’s tough when you know you can do something.

Who do you think is your biggest competition?

Joe’s quite arty too, but then Hugh may be quite sciency, mathematical and logical. I’m pretty sure he went to Cambridge and I think maybe Mel did as well – those people with the big brains. So maybe the academic logical stuff might be better for them. Mel bakes so maybe she’s very practical. I’ve tasted her cakes, they’re good. You just don’t know how people are going to react. I heard Hugh’s quite good at football so he’ll be good at the sporty stuff. You just can’t tell can you? When someone says destroy this cake in the most beautiful way possible, how is going to Cambridge or art school going to help you? I don’t imagine that I’ve won and I’m fine with that.

What would it mean to you to win?

I don’t know! It’s a sort of weird thing to win. I’d be nicely or pleasantly surprised if I win. I am quite competitive and it’s funny because it brings out all the competitiveness in you. Because I went to art school and had exhibitions and stuff, I’m very competitive when it comes to things like that. But then the things I don’t think I can do, I’m not competitive about. When they say how many peas can you eat in a minute, I’m not going to get competitive about that. You do learn stuff too, like I dropped a bowling ball in to a bucket from the top of a ladder to create the highest splash and I realised that I could create the same splash with a golf ball. So, then it’s physics and you go I didn’t know that. But at the time you’re carrying a bowling ball up a ladder, which is obviously quite dangerous - especially for the person holding the ladder! But then you realise you could have just taken a golf ball up. You wouldn’t know unless you tried it so you’re constantly learning stuff. The tasks were funny and there was a really nice team of people who work on it so it’s like a nice family.

Are people going to see a different side to you?

Yeah because I guess the public don’t really know what you’re like. Everyone has their own persona; I was talking about this with David Mitchell and we work quite well on panel shows together because he’s quite nerdy and academic while I’m quite surreal and sort of rock and roll. We’re just completely opposed to each other so we have quite good banter. But on a panel show, it’s your character that they’re buying in to really, so that is how you get all your comedy. I guess the public have a perception of you and then they might see this and go oh right, he’s quite good at that! It’s probably why I was quite annoyed about the football because I thought that would show a different side to me rather than in gold and silver boots wearing poncy clothes. In your heart, you just want to come across as a nice person really and be upbeat about all the tasks and not moody. It’s funny though because everyone has a breaking point and I reached mine on that football field. There’s a point where you’re just knackered and it’s not that you can’t be bothered it’s just like they’ve stretched and manipulated you and fucked with you mentally and physically to the point where you literally go I’m done! It’s torture!

Do you prefer being in character?

No I don’t mind doing it as myself. You can’t be self conscious when you’re on a panel show because you’re just chatting and if you’re out of your depth on QI it doesn’t really matter if they’re talking about logarithms because you just say I don’t know anything about that. But you do feel a little bit self conscious with Taskmaster because you know they’re filming you trying to accomplish something that you don’t have the skills to accomplish, so you do feel a little bit embarrassed. But once you let that go, then you become quite childlike I think and that’s the key to it is to just have the enthusiasm and optimism of a child and be quite free with it - then it works for you. On the first day, I was really uptight about what was going to happen and then on the second day I went this should just be fun, just go with it. And then it was better and I felt quite free. It’s a really nice show because you don’t do these things anymore. You do them all the time when you’re at school and university but then you get a bit safe and you realise how safe you are. You don’t take yourself out of your comfort zone and this completely takes you out of your comfort zone, which is nice. It just makes you feel like there are a lot of things you could do. I sort of now feel like some of the things I thought I couldn’t do I should maybe have a go at. I can’t drive and maybe it will be fine and like a task. Maybe I’ll learn French because my grandma is French and I really wanted to learn it. These things that I didn’t think I was very good at because I’m not very practical like driving or good at languages – maybe I should just have a go. Because it’s kind of fun even if you don’t pull it off. What I’m really saying is that Alex changed my life. I’m going to be driving all round France next year!

Mel Giedroyc:

What made you decide to do Taskmaster?

I love the show. I’m a total fan of it so when the call came I was just like absolutely, of course. I was really chuffed to be asked actually. Because they have really good people of really amazing comedy pedigrees so I was very chuffed to be asked to do it.

But you’re part of that pedigree...

Well no you don’t feel that. Do you know what I mean? But it really appeals to my completely childish self, which is thinking in the 48-year-old body, that I’m still 13 or 14. It really appeals to that. But also, it’s very clever as well. The best comedy is very clever and very silly at the same time I think. And off the cuff too we have no preparation. You literally roll up in your whatever you’ve decided to wear. You go to this funny little house in the middle of nowhere in West London, it’s like a grounds man’s cottage. And you literally have no idea what’s going to happen from task to task. It’s hilarious!

It’s going back to your comedy roots – is that part of why you wanted to do it too?

Definitely yeah. And it’s a chance to sort of let rip a bit. You’re not hampered by anything really – they’re incredibly good at just letting you do what you want to do. If there’s a task and you say look I could really do with a Gouda cheese the size of a cottage, they’ll sort it out. Somebody will have it by the afternoon. Unbelievable. Or I need to hose myself down in Horlicks while holding up an umbrella made of goose feathers; they’ll go yep absolutely fine. They’re amazing!

Are you generally quite a practical person and good at tasks?

I’m fiendishly, I’d say verging on OCD. I love doing things like folding up the washing, emptying the dishwasher, organising my stationary. I love all of that. Little practical tasks. I wouldn’t say I’m organised but I’d say in a shambolic way, I’m trying to carve my own way if you know what I mean. I sort of blow both ways; either the house is in chaos or it’s
totally scarily neat as a pin. But to be honest, I do love doing chores; I’m really happy if I have a day of jobs. Oh my God. Yesterday for example I knew I had to go to parcel up some stuff, address it, take it to the post office, get a certain amount of ingredients for a particular recipe I was doing, do a few emails but that’s boring and then measure up for some shelves, which I love doing, and de-slime my youngest daughter’s dressing gown because she’d made all of this slime and got it over her dressing gown. I love stuff like that laid out in front of you, tick it off. So this really appeals to my to my completest nature.

Which were the tasks you were most frustrated by?

Oh, there was one with 12 dogs that was really hard work. I have never owned a dog in my life. I love dogs but I have no idea how to be with them and tell them what to do. So that was absolute carnage. It was in a garden and I had to put it this way, there was a small mat and 12 dogs and I had to corral the dogs, I won’t give you too much detail. That took absolutely hours and the dogs were just getting really bored. It took over half an hour. I think I did manage to do it but I’ll definitely lose that one.

Are you quite competitive?

Yeah! I think underneath the banter and bonhomie yes I am. But in a quite directionless way, which is not good. You need to really focus!

Which was your favourite task?

I loved the slightly show-offy ones, the theatrical ones. There was one involving majorettes which I absolutely loved. And there was one involving creating a piece of choreography, I could have done that all day, it was so much fun. Music with Alex, performance, loved it. And actually, it was really fun because some of the tasks you get to buddy up with somebody who’s in your series so Hugh Dennis and I had two days together, which was such a laugh. When you realise that there is somebody else doing as ridiculous things as you are then that just makes it really fun! We’ve met each other a few times over the years but it was really nice actually to hang out with him.

Do you think people are going to see a different side to you? It lays you bare...
It does a bit actually. It certainly does, and I think the way to go in to it and you kind of learn it as you go through the tasks, you’ve just got to absolutely relax and let anything happen. And some stuff takes quite a long time for it to develop and you have that awful thing of not wanting to be boring, to fill the air space all the time, but sometimes the pauses and the length of things almost makes them. That’s what I’m hoping, clutching at straws!

Who do you think is your biggest competition?

You see I don’t know Lolly, I haven’t met her and I have a feeling that she’s going to be quite good. I’ve got a feeling about her. Desky Dennis is so competitive it’s ludicrous; I could just smell it on him. Really badly. Noel I think will pretend to be quite laid back but I reckon underneath maybe not and I don’t really know Joe that well. I can’t wait for the studios; it’s going to be mayhem. It’s so weird because we do this show and you’re in your own little bubble. So we all do the same tasks but obviously at different times so going in to the studio is going to be such a laugh because you’ll see probably five totally different ways of doing the one thing each time. I’m going to be fascinated. I think what works is a lateral brain combined with something that’s a bit off beam. Off beam + lateral = success at Taskmaster.

What would it mean to you to win?

Oh man. I’ve never won anything. I would love to win. There’s an overall winner of the series and I’m not even going to think in those terms but come on, one can dream. I’m quite pleased with one of them though. There’s a task I’ve been set involving some intricate vegetables and some celebrity autographs and I have a very strong feeling about that! I’m really pushing the boat out for that one.

How does it compare to other panel shows you’ve done?

It’s just like not work – you literally come home at the end of the day and go, am I going to get paid for that? It’s just so much fun. Quite knackering though because you actually have to use your brain. The tasks before lunch I always wanted to get over with because I get slightly ratty if I don’t eat. I literally did it so quickly. They shouted, ‘you’ve got 40 minutes!’ 10 seconds later...done. I was dying to eat. There were a few snacks involved in some of the tasks though, which is

always a joy. I like an eating task. I like a task involving some element of showbiz too, call me an old ham but anything involving a little bit of perf and I am all over it! Seriously. I’ve just thought of an outdoorsy one we did too (hands to head). Oh my gosh. I can’t believe we did that! It was involving Hugh Dennis and a large wheelie bin. Too funny.

How do you think Sue would get on?

I was talking to her about it yesterday actually. I think she would be brilliant. She’s very quick of brain; she does get bored quite easily though so the longer ones she’d have to commit. But she has a very quick brain; I think she’d do really well and really enjoy it. 

The fourth series of Taskmaster starts on Dave at 9pm on Tuesday April 25.

Interviews supplied by Dave


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