Bat­tle of wits

Robyn But­ler is put to the test in Talkin’ ’ Bout Your Gen­er­a­tion

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The first rule of bat­tle is to know your en­emy, but what if you don’t know your­self?

Ac­tor Robyn But­ler is lead­ing Team Gen X in the re­turn of the com­edy game show Talkin’ ’ Bout Your Gen­er­a­tion. The only is­sue is, she’s not quite clear on when her era be­gins and ends.

“I think it’s 1965- 1980 or some­thing, I’m not quite sure. I should know as the cap­tain. As the spokesper­son for Gen­er­a­tion X I re­ally should know,” But­ler said.

“But it seems to me you have the pop­u­lar cul­ture ref­er­ences of the ’ 80s and ’ 90s, my zeit­geist ex­ists around there.”

The show has re­turned af­ter a six- year hia­tus be­cause tim­ing, as they say, is ev­ery­thing, and the war be­tween the gen­er­a­tions is on­go­ing, ac­cord­ing to But­ler.

“It’s the right time for the show to come back be­cause it’s a universal truth that doesn’t re­ally change, that we do like to pit our­selves against each other,” But­ler said.

“In the mid­dle of this time where ev­ery­thing is a bit com­pli­cated in the world and po­lit­i­cally di­vi­sive, when you have some­thing that’s a bit stupid and ridicu­lous, it cuts through any sort of di­vide you might have, so I think it’s a re­ally timely thing.”

The ac­tor is not alone up there. Aside from a weekly celebrity guest to help her cham­pion the cause for Gen X, ra­dio host Andy Lee will lead the Gen Y team while ac­tor

But­ler: “Say­ing yes is the first rule of im­prov, so as soon as some­body says some­thing you go with it, which I think is just a good phi­los­o­phy for life.”

Lau­rence Box­hall will rep­re­sent Gen Z.

Co­me­dian Shaun Mi­callef has re­turned as a host and the re­ju­ve­nated show has re­turned with­out the Baby Boomer gen­er­a­tion.

The show has the same mix of ques­tions, games and an­tics that make full use of But­ler’s back­ground in im­pro­vi­sa­tion.

“If you’re wor­ried about how you’re go­ing to look you can for­get about it. Say­ing yes is the first rule of im­prov, so as soon as some­body says some­thing you go with it, which I think is just a good phi­los­o­phy for life,” she said.

It might not be the most com­pet­i­tive of game shows, but But­ler picks Box­hall, who rep­re­sents the youngest gen­er­a­tion, as the most knowl­edge­able of her op­po­nents.

“He knows more than us. He is in that sweet lit­tle part of life when you’ve got so much more room on the hard drive and he can fill his brain with a lot of

facts and a lot of films, TV, mu­sic knowl­edge, whereas mine’s full of elec­tric­ity bills and gro­cery shop­ping and I’ve got to de­liver a show next week so that’s my ex­cuse,” she said.

“I think we all have flashes of be­ing com­pet­i­tive though.”

But as far as Box­hall is con­cerned, he’s not the only one re­spon­si­ble for his ex­ten­sive knowl­edge.

“Full credit to my par­ents for im­bu­ing me with a love of cul­ture from be­fore my gen­er­a­tion,” he said.

“But my mu­sic knowl­edge isn’t par­tic­u­larly great for my gen­er­a­tion. I’m much more on board with mu­sic from older gen­er­a­tions. So when mu­sic like that comes up, or po­lit­i­cal stuff, I’m a com­plete fish out of wa­ter, I’ve no idea. So I also sur­prise my­self with the fact I’m lit­er­ally clueless on these top­ics and I look like an id­iot.”

Box­hall is learn­ing that half the fun of the show is be­ing able to look like an id­iot. As an ac­tor on shows such as Ronny Chieng: In­ter­na­tional Stu­dent he’s used to play­ing a role, so it’s been an ad­just­ment learn­ing to just be him­self for this show.

“I love over- think­ing things and for the first two episodes, be­cause it was so new to me, I was over- think­ing ev­ery­thing and think­ing, ‘ Oh God I’m not be­ing as funny as Shaun, I’m not as fast as Shaun’. And then I re­alised Shaun has been do­ing this for a very long time and I haven’t,” he said.

“I thought, ‘ Just re­lax and sit in the mo­ment and things will hap­pen’.”

It isn’t a game show in the tra­di­tional sense and But­ler says it works best and is at its most en­ter­tain­ing when the fo­cus isn’t on be­ing per­fect and getting things right.

“The great thing is, as com­pet­i­tive as the show can be at times it’s also re­mark­ably silly and off topic. It’s a show more about en­ter­tain­ment at its core,” she said.

“It’s prob­a­bly much more in­ter­est­ing for peo­ple to watch peo­ple be­ing ridicu­lous rather than who knows the most. Some of the links to gen­er­a­tion-themed an­swers are very ten­u­ous. They’re just an ex­cuse to have some wacky game or some­thing so the pres­sure is off.”

The team lead­ers aren’t prompted, each week they don’t know what they’ll be ex­pected to par­take in so their re­ac­tions are gen­uine, which keeps things pretty fast- paced.

“Shaun keeps ev­ery­one en­er­gised but it is fairly as you see it on TV,” Box­hall said.

“We don’t know what’s go­ing to hap­pen, we re­ally don’t. We just have to wing it.”

Team lead­ers: Gen X’s Andy Lee, Gen Y’s Robyn But­ler and Gen Z’s Lau­rence Box­hall.

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