PartnersOctober 16, 2019

Kel Knight taught me to powerwalk: my night in the Have You Been Paying Attention audience

Josie Adams is in tonight’s episode of Have You Been Paying Attention. Specifically, she is in the audience.

When you watch Have You Been Paying Attention? tonight, please consider the bladders of audience members watching it live. They offer beverages, but my God it’s a dangerous offer. As I found out last night, bathroom breaks are frowned upon. Only Kath & Kim star Glenn Robbins took a toilet break for the entire two and a half hours of filming.

The show has host Hayley Sproull (The Great Kiwi Bake Off, Golden Boy) firing off questions about the week that’s just passed, hoping the competing celebrities have, as the show’s name says, been paying attention. The show’s format was born in Australia, and our rendition has been on screens since July this year. Each segment is designed to be short and sharp, with plenty of opportunities for the jesters to make us laugh. It’s shot the night before it airs, so they have time to edit but it’s still as current as possible.

As for the audience, they were paying attention before Sproull was even on set. The affable, talented Rhiannon McCall, who you might recognise from Golden Boy and Funny Girls, led us through a quick lesson on how to laugh and clap. I’m yet to master both at once.

I was handed a giant cardboard cut-out of Urzila Carlson as I got into the elevator. They didn’t tell me what to do with it. It was mine now. I wrapped my arm around her, steadfast, sure as I’ve ever been that, this time, I might have found true love.

I carried her through the corridors, all the time tucked romantically under my shoulder. And then, just as quickly as I’d found her, I placed her in the shadows next to the set and walked away. No one told me to do this. What can I say? Hurt people hurt people. 

After McCall brought us up to speed on audience etiquette, we were ready to meet the cast: radio personality Vaughn Smith and comedian/author Urzila Carlson are regulars on this show and in New Zealand media.

Smith and Carlson were joined by Chris Parker (2018 Fred Award winner), Mel Bracewell (2018 Billy T Award winner) and a special guest from across the ditch and also from my dreams: Glenn Robbins. The very same Glenn Robbins who played meat merchant Kel Knight on global comedy juggernaut Kath & Kim.

Look, most people like Kath & Kim. I love it. I live it. A photo of Kim is my phone background. I can’t go a single day without remembering the “statue of baby cheeses” joke and crying from sheer awe. Kath and Kel are so #baegoals they’ve already had an article dedicated to them on this website. For the first time in my life, I was starstruck.

I had no time to recover as Sproull emerged, jokes already firing on all cylinders before the camera was even turned on. She oozes charisma. A born host. Before the record could start, a wardrobe assistant shot out of the shadows, plays around with Sproull’s shirt, and disappeared into the ether once more. Nothing looked any different. I was about to write it off as showbiz, baby, but then Carlson piped up: “I can never see what they’ve changed. They’ve done nothing.” She speaks for the people.

We started out with warm-up questions which prove that, even though the show has a team of writers, these people are naturally very, very funny. Immediately, organic moments shone through: a five-minute conversation on the correct Scottish pronunciation of “hairy cow” (Smith has two small ones), Carlson getting spooked by the cardboard doppelganger I’d left in her eyeline, and Robbins dropping his water bottle on the ground.

He made up for the disruption with a demonstration of the Kel Knight powerwalk. It’s actually – and sit down for this – Michael Jackson’s moonwalk done forwards instead of backwards. “The trick is to pretend you’re holding a toffee between your cheeks,” he said. “And your arse is chewing it.”

McCall told us much of what went on wouldn’t make it to air – the show has a 7.30pm slot and has to stay family-friendly. Carlson stared her down: “We fucking love to swear”.

Round one was New Zealand-based news, which had Robbins wailing into his podium. “Are there going to be any questions not about this?” he sobbed. We moved into international news, where he got his chance to shine. He knows his stuff about Hong Kong protests and Extinction Rebellion. Move over Jane Fonda! There’s a new bad boy in town!

Then the guest quizmasters appeared: Officers O’Leary and Minogue from Wellington Paranormal. They were in town to quiz our celebs on their spectral nous. Instead, Bracewell quizzed them on their TV talent and credentials. O’Leary and Minogue didn’t drop character once, and threw Sproull for a hosting loop as soon as they spoke to her; they’re so deadpan they could be as dead as any of their supernatural co-stars. When O’Leary drew her taser gun, it was time to cut.

During each ad break, McCall re-appeared with banter and lollies to distract us from the matte powder that was piling up on top of Smith’s head. She also had prizes on offer: a Chromecast, movie passes, a signed mug. “Who went to the climate protest?” She yelled out at us. “Whoop!” I whooped. The crowd was silent. McCall looked just as crestfallen as me at everyone’s disregard of moral duty. 

“I guess these are yours then,” she laughed (hiding the pain behind smiles) as she handed me movie passes. You know what a better prize would be? A planet that’s not on fire.

The winning celeb on HYBPA? is not something I’ll know until I watch tonight. Doing some mental maths, I suspect it’s Carlson. But Robbins and Smith had some big-ticket right answers, too.

Perhaps the real winner was the audience. We had wines, some lucky duck got a Chromecast, and Kel Knight swore at me. The magic was far from destroyed. I was waiting for someone to be fed an answer, or for the audience to have an “I could do that” moment. I’m devastated to announce: everyone’s really crack up. The taping is just as high-energy and fast-paced as you see on TV, but three times as long and full of dick jokes (thanks, Glenn Robbins). 

I can’t wait to see how the editing wizards get a full 45 minutes out of almost three hours of unrelenting sin.

Have You Been Paying Attention? airs on TV2 at 7.30pm on Wednesdays.

If you’d like to be in the studio audience simply click here to sign up.

This content was created in paid partnership with TVNZ. Learn more about our partnerships here.

Image: Tina Tiller

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