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Pop CultureFebruary 24, 2017

Jono and Ben was a hot mess in a hot tub – and not in a good way


Tara Ward watches in horror as Jono and Ben return and go live for the first time.

Jono and Ben returned to our screens last night, promising a ‘star-studded, prank-filled show’ filmed — wait for it — LIVE TO AIR. Jono and Ben were more excited than the time my toddler found half a chocolate biscuit under her carseat, and I thought that level of childish enthusiasm could never be beaten. Congratulations, Jono and Ben, you schooled the preschooler.

Live television is apparently A Big Deal. You mustn’t swear, you can’t fix your mistakes, and all types of bells and whistles are banned. Banned, I tell you. Anything could happen on live to air Jono and Ben, including a pre-recorded song and dance routine about them being live to air. It’s showtime, showtime, guess who’s back again?!

It’s not the same old song and daaaaaaaance, but somewhere Bruno Mars is counting his 24 carat millions and wondering who gave these idiots the rights to butcher his music like that.

I was speechless for most of Jono and Ben, much like intern Angella, an intrepid reporter who barely uttered a word. Angella was me and I was her as we both wondered what the hell we’d got ourselves into. How did we end up watching a show that made fun of a weather presenter mispronouncing “six o’clock” and banged on about being “live on tv” like it was a 1980s Telethon and Leeza Gibbons was about to pash Gail Platt’s husband from Coronation Street?

Now THAT was live TV. Angella would have been all over that shit.

While Jono and Ben tripped over their jazz hands and lame fake interviews, Angella was trapped – live – in suburbia. “It’s horrible out here,” Angella said during her live cross. “I don’t want to do this.” I understood completely.

Angella risked her own life by visiting a ‘random’ house to see if Jono and Ben was on the telly. This could be awkward. What if the people in the house were axe murderers, or worse, what if they were watching George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces? OMG! It’s live television! Anything could happen!

Our hero bravely ventured into a room filled with millennials supposedly watching terrestrial television. They were about to win a cool $1000, yet it was the most joyless room ever seen on tv. It probably smelt like death. The lucky winners sat silently. They were embarrassed. They were watching Jono and Ben.

Angella’s work was done. She pointed to the television to prove that this was really happening; it wasn’t just a nightmare that we’d soon wake from, drenched in a sweaty layer of shame and regret. “That’s not a delay, she’s just like that,” Guy Williams mansplained, as Angella stood silently, waiting for this to all be over.

Too soon, Angella was gone, swallowed up by the horrors of suburban Auckland. For the rest of the hour, Guy Williams thrust his pelvis like it was his final disco and Laura Daniel sang about Harry Warner’s penis like she was an angel sent from live TV heaven, but all I could think about was Angella.

When Guy dropped the F-bomb, I wondered what Angella would say. While the cast launched themselves into the Jokecuzzi to drown in Shortland Street dick pic gags, I imagined Angella standing under a street light, waiting for a live cross that never came. Would Angella have laughed at Guy’s interview with Don Cheadle? Yes. A bewitching giggle, probably, a tinkling waterfall of delicious champagne followed by a beautiful but uneasy silence.

Angella is better than Jono and Ben. We are all better than Jono and Ben. Like Katy Perry said as she ran away from Guy Williams, “it feels like nothing.” It was an hour long shambolic shitstorm of hot tubs and hot messes, but thankfully Angella floated above the detritus. She’s welcome to watch George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces at my place, anytime she likes.

Jono and Ben airs Thursdays on Three at 7.30pm

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