My ‘Mastermind Australia’ journey – Part 3

From left to right: William Laing, me, (Host) Marc Fennell, Kieran Magee and Yael Blinco.

Hello! If you’ve been following along for the last couple of weeks as I outline my preparations for THIS particular episode of Mastermind Australia –  https://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/watch/2314487875992 – you’ll know that we’re now up to the part where my study of the show is really kicking in…

12/01/24

So I’ve now scanned through all the Mastermind Australia episodes that are available to watch on SBS on Demand, and highlighted the ones which include sitcoms or UK TV comedy shows as specialist subjects (where that information is available):

SEASON 1

Episode 6 (Monty Python’s Flying Circus)

SEASON 2

Episode 33 (Gavin & Stacy)

Episode 37 (The Young Ones)!

Episode 39 (Absolutely Fabulous)

Episode 41 (Happy Days)

Episode 42 (Scrubs)

Episode 44 (Sex and the City)

Episode 56 (Will & Grace)

Episode 58 (The Goon Show and Friends)

Episode 62 (M*A*S*H)

Episode 63 (The Office UK)

SEASON 3

Episode 3 (Kath & Kim)

Episode 8 (Rowan Atkinson)

Episode 9 (Fawlty Towers)!

Episode 14 (Frasier)

Episode 19 (Flight of the Conchords)

Episode 24 (Archer)

Episode 26 (Will & Grace)

Episode 29 (The Big Bang Theory)

Episode 43 (The Micallef Programme)

Episode 47 (Schitt’s Creek)

Episode 48 (Scrubs)

Episode 49 (The Goodies and The Simpsons)

Episode 51 (The Thick of it)

Episode 53 (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)

Episode 57 (The Mighty Boosh)

Episode 67 (How I Met Your Mother)

Episode 73 (Seinfeld)

Episode 74 (Spaced)

Episode 76 (Married With Children)

Episode 78 (Curb Your Enthusiasm)

SEASON 4

Episode 53 (Seinfeld)

SEASON 5

Episode 58 (Ricky Gervais)

I will watch (/listen to) all of these eps, to get a good feel for how the questions writers approach this genre: the question writing conventions they use. What are the typical SHAPES of questions about UK TV comedy shows that they program on Mastermind Australia?

Also, I’ve started watching the Celebrity version of Mastermind Australia. Some things I’ve learnt (re-learnt) from watching these episodes:

  • Do your homework! (Der). Don’t just assume that because you like something, you’re an expert on it. MAKE yourself an expert on it. (Again, Der.)

  • Don’t suck up to the host. It’s cringeworthy.

  • If you don’t know the answer, say “Pass” – or far more preferably, have a guess – quickly and move on to the next. There is NO VALUE – for the contestant OR the audience – in the contestant humming and hah-ing and laughing and being embarrassed and talking us through why they don’t know the answer, and how they almost know the answer and why they almost know the answer but don’t, and so on and so on… Many lesser comedians arrogantly assume that their floundering and ad-libbing is automatically hilarious… but in this particular context, that’s the exact opposite of entertaining.

  • Have some dignity. If I happen to get a few wrong in a row, don’t guffaw and cheer and guffaw again when I eventually get one right. Yes, getting a series of questions wrong is embarrassing, (especially when it was preventable, and you just haven’t bothered to do any homework). But I should have mitigated that risk by doing every scrap of homework I could think of, long before getting to that chair. If I do get a series of questions wrong, it WILL be embarrassing… but just professionally move on, remembering my old mantra: “I know the next one, I know the next one…” Do NOT loudly and over-enthusiastically congratulate myself for getting a score of roughly three.

  • Don’t be too much of a smartarse. It’s good to have a few lines prepared, so that when Marc asks me a predictable question, I’ve got some rehearsed spontaneity up my sleeve… but don’t cross the line where it looks like I’ve prepared a bunch of lines, and I’m desperate to get them all out before I leave.

  • Mastermind is big on amping up the tension and the nerves and the “terror” and “agony” of the big chair. Remember that it’s not really all that scary.

Earlier today, I started to daydream about winning. On Mastermind Australia Champions Week, to achieve that, all I have to do is win two episodes! (Not seven, like I did on Temptation). I allowed myself to fantasise about being able to change the tagline on HowToWinGameShows.com. I’d love to be able to write

PRACTICAL TIPS FOR WINNING GAME SHOWS, FROM SOMEONE WHO’S BEEN THERE AND DONE THAT… THREE TIMES!

But then I think ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa – settle down, big fella. Easy there tiger, don’t get ahead of yourself. You’ve got a long way to go yet.’

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… A long way which will continue right here next Tuesday at HowToWinGameShows.com!  

This awkward blog post sign off was bought to you by Tortured Segues Pty Ltd. (“Proudly overreaching linguists to the gentry since 1987.”)

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