“Talk Show the Game Show” (10 p.m. Wednesdays on TruTV) answers a question you’ve probably never even thought of: What if talk show guests were judged on their entertainingness? In each episode, three celebrities are interviewed for three minutes by 41-year-old comic Guy Branum, who says he’s “best known for serving as ‘Staff Homosexual’ on ‘Chelsea Lately.’ ”
Points are awarded for stellar behavior and banter. Drinking booze gets two. So does a humblebrag (like Diablo Cody saying her Oscar for the “Juno” screenplay is “really not a big deal”).
Guests who disrespect the rules (by, say, excessively self-promoting or just being boring) are warned or ejected by the judges: TV writers Karen Kilgariff (co-host of podcast “My Favorite Murder”) and Casey Schreiner (founder of Modern Hiker, a popular blog).
The show can be pretty silly. And tasteless, too, like the joke about the best way to remove blood from the wool suit Jackie Kennedy wore when JFK was assassinated. It will always be too soon, if you ask me.
I forgive the lapses because the chitchat is breezy and bouncy. Introduced as an “international vegan,” Moby says his moniker was originally a “pathetic infant joke of a name” due to his small size and kinship to Herman Melville (two points for a name drop!). He also says he’s in his 40s (two points for lying about his age).
Branum brings a sly undercurrent of gay humor into the mix, like calling singer Morrissey “that sad guy gay people are supposed to like.” Slate has lauded the show for liberating TV from its “decades-long blockade of gay wit.”
Since this is a game show, there has to be a winner. Points are tallied from the interview segment and a nutty bonus round of intellectual or physical challenges. Asked to state facts about “Bachelor” contestants, actress Arden Myrin points to photos of two women and says, “They’re twins from Vegas and their souls are dead.”
The top point getter won a lawnmower in one episode; the loser got nine pounds of clams. The biggest prize is seeing celebrities be funny, at times uncomfortable and somehow, it seems, truly themselves.
Read more of Marc’s musings: