[Jeremy Kyle rest easy]
A live taping of a talk show is a solid theatrical idea, but The Jenny Taylor Show does not take this much beyond its premise.
The main problem is a lack of focus. It is meant to be a satire about talk shows, but it what is it commenting on? Could it be the blurring of reality TV and real life? The dumbing-down of society? People’s desire for attention, regardless of what it is for? A lack of empathy for interview subjects? The focus on ratings over any ethical standards?
There is a gold mine of potential targets in The Jenny Taylor Show but the whole thing just feels like an idea with a couple of bullet points scribbled under it. The jokes, which should be the saving grace here, do not rise above the level of a university revue.
There are constant references to social media but no attempts to highlight how these platforms have rendered Taylor’s show irrelevant.
There are segments about a hard-partying mum trying to loosen up her bookish daughter, a man who wants to fix his ‘resting-bitch face’ and a woman who likes to have sex on cakes. You can usually see the punchlines coming a mile away.
The title character (Jennifer Corbett) is a vacuum. All we know about her is that she is the host and she does not like to be touched. That’s it. She is not the protagonist, she’s not even a villain. I was expecting some kind of story about her lack of empathy, or her narcissism, but there is nothing.
The show does not even commit to its own deviance and debauchery. The guests are walking dumpster fires, but there is nothing that dark about any of them
Another problem is that we never get a baseline to offset the weirdness. There is no straight performer to the chaos – a member of the crew or a guest who is willing to present something ‘normal’ to juxtapose just how inane all these characters are.
The cast (Corbett, Jess Haugh, Natalie Crane, Tegan McKnight, Robbie Ellis, and Derrick Olivier) are all fine. But the characters they are playing are barely functional as caricatures, let alone characters.
Auckland’s most scandalous talk show? Unfortunately, The Jenny Taylor Show is not as funny or as naughty as it wants to be.
The Jenny Taylor Show is presented by Chicken Thigh Productions and plays at Backbeat Bar until 24 Feb as part of Auckland Fringe.