Always – always – beware of editors bearing gifts. Watch out for red flags like, "It’s meant to be a hoot," or, "You’ll love it!" It’s like the first time you try talking your way out of a barring notice, protesting to the venue manager. Wasn’t me, I swear. The other guy started it. I’m just here trying to have a good night, couple of beers, a few laughs. As far as they’re concerned, your name is already on the paper. Bite the big one, slick.
So, chit in hand, I headed to Dolly Diamond’s Blankety Blanks, not really knowing what to expect. Sure, it’s is a pretty familiar format, having done the rounds in one way or the other for a while. There’s a panel of funny people, two contestants, and a presenter. The presenter asks a question with a key word removed, the funny people and the contestants come up with an amusing word to fill in the blank, and whichever contestant gets the same word as the funny people more often wins stuff. On TV this was usually subject to profanity standards, and a lot of the humour came from the funny people attempting to operate within these boundaries. I mean, everyone loves a good double entendre, right?
In Diamond’s version, there’s no draconian fun police hiding in the shadows, and so the laughs need to come from somewhere else. This falls onto Diamond’s vast shoulders – she's obviously seen some serious shit, and has the appropriate dismissive facial expression for just about any half-baked answer. She had her work cut out for her tonight, though, as one of the contestants, both having been drawn from the crowd, decided he was going to make sure people got their money’s worth all by himself. A few expertly withering glares and caustic one-liners were sufficient, and he piped down.
This was where the real humour came in, the in-between moments, the one-liners. Funny people bouncing funny things off of each other. In a TV studio, with a sound tech able to isolate microphones a bit quicker, and where the show isn’t being crammed into a fifty-minute slot, the fuzzy off-the-cuff lines in between would have had more of a punch. Relying on eight ring-ins is also risky, no matter how shiny their credentials, and requires the presenter to do the heavy lifting. She carried it, but I can’t help but think that with a better panel it’d have been much less of a barring notice.