Thursday night brought the latest of Channel 4’s experimental comedy vehicles, Host the Week, each episode of which sees a different celebrity present an hour of sketches and games that they are entirely unprepared for. As we were told at the top of the show, this week’s host Scarlett Moffatt had ‘no script’, ‘no rehearsal’ and ‘no idea what to expect’. One would assume that what they were aiming for was a cross between The Friday Night Project and the Australian improv hit, Thank God You’re Here. What they achieved, however, was something I previously thought impossible: they delivered a show so disastrous that it somehow left me yearning for the comparative halcyon days of 10 O’Clock Live.
Prior to sitting down to watch it in full on Friday, I did catch a glimpse of Host the Week as it was broadcast the previous night. I saw an anxious Scarlett seated at a desk, presenting a news bulletin (pictured below, right), in which she delivered two jokes in relation to the week’s events: one involved the likening of a ‘mandate’ to a date with a man, and the other pointed out, quite simply, that Donald Trump is orange. My heart sank. I didn’t hold out much hope for improvement when I watched the show in full, and lo and behold, my expectations were met. The topical gags – of which there were far fewer than one would expect from a show called Host the Week – were nothing more than recycled Twitter puns. We know that Ryanair’s not very good. We also know that Andy Murray’s dull and his mum’s domineering. These are clichés that have been exhausted time and again on shows like this, and it’s the mark of an uninspired writing team when they’re churned out in this way. I found myself hankering for some originality – just a little excitement – but none came.
Despite her claims that she’d had fun and ‘would do it all over again’, this seemed to me just one big sorry mess for Scarlett. Away from the comfort blanket of her parents on Gogglebox or Ant & Dec on Takeaway, this was her first time at the helm of something. This should have been her big showcase before the launch of her new-look Streetmate later in the year, but with almost universal disdain for Host the Week, it will no doubt be Scarlett who’ll suffer unjustly as she’ll be first in the firing line for people’s criticism. The blame for this mess should not lie with her, though – rather, it should be put on the script she was being fed. Due to the nature of the show, she was helpless – completely unprepared and entirely at the mercy of the writers, who, even when one allows them leeway given it was the first episode, could and should have done so much better. This show is brought to us by 2/3s of the brilliant Pappy’s and can boast a writing team with credits like Cats Does Countdown, Not Going Out and Murder in Successville. Even without that pedigree, the strength and frequency of gags in this show should have been so much higher, but with it, it’s unbelievable. If one also takes into account that some of the writers have previously been involved with Have I Got News For You, Charlie Brooker’s Wipes, and The News Quiz on Radio 4, it’s surely inarguable that the number of fresh topical references across the hour ought to have been drastically increased, particularly given this is a show that purports to celebrate ‘the week’.
It’s quite evident that Channel 4 were trying to do something new, and they should actually be credited for that – far too often we, as viewers, bemoan the fact that too much comedy follows the same frameworks and lacks originality. It’s surely beyond dispute, however, that Host the Week has far from got off to a good start and will need quite an overhaul if it’s to escape the same fate as The Nightly Show and be written-off as a failure.
Unless otherwise stated, all images courtesy of Charlie Fearn, Scott Kershaw and Channel 4
Host the Week is on Thursdays at 10pm on Channel 4, with Jack Whitehall at the helm this week (29th June).
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