Battle of wits
Robyn Butler is put to the test in Talkin’ ’ Bout Your Generation
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.