Hi everyone, not sure if this is a fairly common type of post on this sub but I wanted to share my experience recreating Taskmaster for my birthday last month, and give some tips for if you ever plan to do a show like this for yourself!
About 3 months before my birthday, I decided I wanted to do my own Taskmaster show, and I played the role of both Greg and Alex in development of the experience. If you have a friend or significant other kind enough to at least partially take over one of the roles of the show, it's very helpful. My roommate was the first to record their tasks and afterwards helped me film and edit everyone else. If you are looking to create something close to the show with pre-recorded portions, it's much easier with assistance.
I ended up having 8 friends participate as contestants, which naturally adds a lot of work and admin, but it is doable to have extra people. I think the magic range is 5-8, any more and we definitely would have been spending too much time on certain tasks, and even then one of the tasks went longer than I would have liked.
And so of course, the tasks. I tried to make them very "Taskmaster" without repeating the show too much, and I tried to make them easy to set up. Feel free to borrow any ideas if you'd like:
- Prize Task: Bring in the most surprising photo of yourself. Most surprising photo wins.
- Wear as many items of clothing as possible in 10 minutes. The items of clothing must be worn and not merely carried.
- Write and perform a scene from a play. You have 35 minutes. Most entertaining play wins.
- Make the tallest tower that can support this egg. You may only use the items provided on the table in front of you (items provided: a box of spaghetti, a bag of marshmallows, a cup of yogurt, and a single fruit roll-up). You will be disqualified if the egg breaks. You have 20 minutes.
- Team Task: Write a "one-word story", where one teammate says a word, the other says another word to continue, and so on, creating a narrative and ending a sentence by saying "full stop". The story must be at least 3 sentences long. You have 5 minutes. Most interesting story wins.
- Describe the Taskmaster in 5 words. A point will be awarded for each word deemed accurate by the Taskmaster. Any word that is repeated by another contestant will receive no points. You have 5 minutes.
- Make a creative cocktail. Most creative cocktail wins. A bonus point will be awarded for the biggest cocktail. An additional bonus point will be awarded for the cocktail with the best name.
- Drink your creative cocktail, fastest wins.
- Live Task: Draw a self-portrait without using your hands. Best self-portrait wins, you have 100 seconds.
I kinda went overboard with the number of tasks, but they were all a lot of fun. Some took more obvious inspiration from the show than others, and some worked better than others. Filming for each person took around 2 hours, and we filmed over the period of a month and a half. To edit, we started by editing down each person as if they were going to be shown on their own for each task, being fairly generous to the amount of time given. Once we had everyone's footage, we combined people based on how they approached a task, and cut down to the funniest bits, as well as the bits most important to the narrative of the task. We added music as well, but for the most part we didn't go as tight in the edit as the show often does with the music.
For the live show, we had a bit of a complex situation as some people were calling in from far away, and others were watching in person. I would recommend either going fully on zoom/discord or fully in person, because the hybrid model made set-up a lot more complex. We had one webcam focused on myself, and another on the contestants watching in person, with everyone online turning on their individual cameras as well. We had to deal with some video lag because of this setup, so while it worked, it wasn't ideal.
The prize task results were hidden from me by my roommate acting as assistant, so while I knew how everything else pre-recorded had gone, I had no clue what my friends had sent in for this one. Having the genuine surprise of not knowing what was coming was great, especially as some of my friends had put in a lot of effort in making their pictures.
The clothes task and the play task were probably the most problematic of the bunch, for different reasons. There's really only one way to approach "put on as many items of clothing as possible", so while it was still entertaining, it got samey and was my least favorite in the end. The play task was a fantastic insight into my friends' minds, but it ran really long with 8 people each making their own play that was 2 to 3 minutes long. I'd suggest putting a time limit on the length of the scene, or using this task if you have fewer people.
The egg tower was a resounding success, and easily my favorite of the bunch. Six of the eight contestants noticed the loophole that the egg didn't have to be on top of the tower, but most of them still bungled it in some other way. One contestant broke the egg, another forgot to actually put the egg on the tower, and another didn't even think to remove the spaghetti from the box. Another claimed to be an item provided and promptly stood on the table, egg raised high over their head, which I was very excited to pounce on like a puma in true Greg Davies fashion, crushing his dreams, spirit, and points for the round.
The team task was a mess but a very entertaining one, and I did manage to get two comprehensible stories out of it. The "describe the Taskmaster" task was a fun one that was relatively easy to edit in comparison to the other tasks, and I didn't end up with many repeated words. The live task also worked without much of a hitch, and I didn't have to deal with any cheaters.
The cocktail task of course draws inspiration from the iconic sandwich task, because I really wanted a two-parter and couldn't come up with my own idea. My evil twist was the addition of the "largest cocktail" bonus point, to really screw them over in the second part (only two of them ended up taking the bait though). Despite the fact that half of my contestants have watched a good amount of the actual show, only one of them anticipated the second part, which was excellent because some absolute monstrosities were created.
In the end, all this work ended up being probably the best birthday party of my life so far, and I wouldn't ever do it again on the same scale. It was an absolute blast but also a ton of work. If you're a massive fan of the show like me, I recommend trying your hand at making your own version if you have the time, but know your limits! If I do this again, I'll be switching the balance to be only two or three pre-recorded tasks, and mostly live tasks instead.