Horray for Guy Branum! Boo every other site for simply copying and pasting this press release. Sure, there’s little information to go on. We haven’t received an air date, set design or promotional materials. Fine. But Guy Branum deserves more. He, and Talk Show the Game Show, is enough to go on.
It’s is a culmination going back to G4 and X-Play and 2002. Talk shows, variety shows, review shows, pop culture review variety talk shows, panel, game, late-night, monologue, sitcoms, stand-up, streaming service, basic cable. Guy Branum, a noted pop culture connoisseur, has worked them all and is completely and uniquely qualified to host his own television show.
And he’s worked them well. From his laser-accurate retort to homophobia in football on Totally Biased w/ W. Kamau Bell (RIP), to champagne boozing on The Nightly Show (RIP), to obliterating cake in the name pie on Debate Wars, Branum boasts a charm for memorable moments both complete and unique. Same can be said of his stand-up, same with his show running.
Talk Show the Game Show, through personal experience, is wily and unwieldy. A lot is going on and lot can go wrong. Host, scorekeeper, judges and guests require at least 8 funny people dialed in for on-the-spot glibness, let alone a good audience that understands and concedes to the tropes at play. Branum commands it like a loving, laughing despot. If the pandering tangents, he reins it in. If a joke is a lemon, he’ll riff lemonade. If the falutin is getting too high, he’ll about-face, self-effacing if necessary. It’s an imperfect system, kinda thrilling, fun.
In addition to an admirable host, the production boasts unique marriages. There’s the iconic Wanda Sykes, Page Hurwitz and Push It Productions. Aside from Sykes’ latest endeavors and helming Last Comic Standing’s latest season, this will be their first original series. There’s a poetic coincidence that TruTV, formerly Court TV, and Branum, a former future attorney, connected after both diverting to comedy from law. There’s Talk Show the Game Show relationship to the TruTV roster, the newly renewed Adam Ruins Everything, Those Who Can’t, Impractical Jokers and more. Recent campaign “Funny Because It’s Tru” doubles down on an initiative towards comedy. The channel has had upstarts, acquisitions, stabs in the dark, shots across the bows, unsung heroes, and weird eggs. But none are like Talk Show the Game Show.
A play on a form on a play on a form. A true subversion of two of television’s oldest, most conventional, most benign formats for the price of one. More contentious than your average panel show, more strategic than your typical competitive farce. Meta but not exclusive. A real group effort. If the stage experience fully translates—why not?—Talk Show the Game Show will be a pop culture menagerie. The only show on broadcast television that comes close is @midnight, the widely popular joke Jeopardy. We can only hope they share longevity, exposure and relevancy.
Success is lofty, fleeting, unpredictable and beside the point. We can only anticipate. Gleefully. Will the stage be dripping in homage and kitsch or will there be a sterile, futurist kinda thing? Will the celebrities be real celebrities or the will the entertainment middle to lower class ham up their paltry IMDb pages? Will the winners still receive gift cards and vintage porn?
We’ll have to see next spring.