Ode to Taskmaster and a Giant Hat


When I was a kid, my siblings, cousins, and I invented a game we called the Crazy Game. It was simple: everyone would take a turn telling all the other players, one by one, what to do. Then, on the count of three, everyone would do that thing. It was chaos. Kids would end up climbing trees or poking hornets nests or making rambunctious noises as loud as they could. We would laugh so hard our stomachs would ache, and then start another round. The only limit was the absurdity of our imagination. 

I have never loved a show as much as I love the show Taskmaster. Usually, I watch tv out of sheer boredom, time passes, the end. Taskmaster, however, fills me with the same glee as the Crazy Game. I am fully present and engaged and even LOL (I never LOL over tv).  

The concept is simple: British comedians compete with each other to win insignificant prizes that they bring in from their own homes through performing ridiculous tasks with unclear rules and arbitrary judging. Eat as much watermelon as you possibly can in five minutes! ! Make the best special effect!  Conceal this pineapple on your person! Get this camel through the smallest gap!

For a while, I wanted to be on Taskmaster. I can picture myself up on the stage, engaging in witty banter, wearing a clever outfit and taking being silly as seriously as I possibly can. 

I won’t say no if I’m asked. But really, all of us are actually living Taskmaster every day. When you think about it (you might not want to), life boils down to a series of tasks that we are all in, competing for some sort of crappy prize that we already own, with some sort of rules that may or may not be true, with no clear measures of success but somehow convinced that we are being judged. 

This knowledge can result in two conclusions: 

  1. Oh no. Everything has lost all meaning. 
  2. Oh yes! Everything is possible. 

Based on my history as a co-inventor of the Crazy Game, it may come as no surprise that I’m going with option #2.  

Being alive is probably the most absurd thing I’ve ever done. Rather than deny or hide that fact, embracing the absurdity with all the seriousness that we can muster, gets us to the joy, simply because we aren’t taking ourselves or the rules quite so seriously. 

Today I wore a slightly too big hat on my walk to work (because fashion). Because it is a bit too big, I rarely wear it, but then by the time I pull it out, I have generally forgotten just how challenging it is to walk anywhere while wearing it. I spent all of my 15 minute walk pondering how to angle my head just right so it didn’t fall off in a gust of wind and so I also didn’t get hit by traffic. I could have simply taken my hat off, of course, but in keeping with the spirit of the game, I experimented with thinking big head thoughts to see if that would make a difference and holding my neck at different angles. It was ludicrously glorious, mainly because I was fully and utterly present in the moment. I was paying attention. 

Many things are possible when considered from a slightly different angle, or at least turned into a game.  During one task, participants compete to impress a local mayor. They rap, write poetry, make tea and buy ice cream. I’ve never considered doing any of those things during an advocacy or volunteer board meeting, but I could.

At the very least, I can ask myself why I am doing things the way I am, think about what else could be, and give myself permission to be a little absurd, try something different, and invite others to do the same. 

I could stop everyone I see on my way to work wearing red shoes and ask them to tell me three wishes. I probably won’t, but I could.

Within that could, everything exists. That, my friends, is the beauty of Taskmaster, the Crazy Game, and being alive.

3 comments on “Ode to Taskmaster and a Giant Hat”

  1. A wonderful thought inspired by a wonderful (if slightly ludicrous) hat! I appreciate the idea of taking ordinary life a little less seriously, especially when working in the business of development and justice. When the work is heavy, joy is the oxygen 🙂 I vow to watch more Taskmaster to inspire equally joyful thoughts on my commute to work in London!

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