'I played by the rules... to my detriment' | Taskmaster Series 7: Phil Wang interview © UKTV

'I played by the rules... to my detriment'

Taskmaster Series 7: Phil Wang interview

Taskmaster returns to Dave for its seventh series next  Wednesday. Here contestant Phil Wang talks about the show…

Did you enjoy taking part in Taskmaster? 

I enjoyed parts of it. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed a lot of tasks. Driving to that house every day felt a bit like going to an exam you hadn’t prepared for, but it turns out to be a fun exam. Like a maths exam. 

But also, it’s forced me to reconsider elements of myself that I hadn’t really counted on taking back into consideration. 

Like what? 

Like my general capability, intelligence... 

I thought I’d be good at Taskmaster because I’m quite a considered and logical person, but it turns out my consideration takes a lot of time, which is usually the deciding factor in these tasks. 

Did you go with any kind of strategy? 

My strategy was to remain calm, which I did, but that ended up being a weakness. I was too calm. I really, really took my time with a lot of them. 

Also, I found that I underestimated my competition in a lot of cases. I’m a very competitive person in general but to be competitive in isolation is really hard because you have no idea what the others are doing. 

How did you get on with the Taskmaster himself? 

He has been unfair to me because he hates how young I am.
One of the tasks was to bring him something from the ‘90s, and so I brought myself because I’m the only one who was born in the ‘90s.
And he hated that. And actually, that’s interesting because ever since then, my point accumulation stagnated. 

Is it more important to be funny or good at the tasks? 

I mean, the ideal is always to try and be both. If there was something I felt like I had a technical edge at, I’d try and do it correctly. 

There was a music one that I didn’t do funny, I just applied my musical learning from A- levels and general theory, but it came out sounding so professional that Greg didn’t believe I wrote it. 

But generally speaking the funniest thing to see is somebody flailing. I think Taskmaster fans aren’t comedy fans, they’re sadists. They want to see hamsters running around a maze getting squashed. 

How competitive was it between the contestants? 

At the beginning, it started out quite friendly and then it got quite competitive. 

if a contentious issue raised, we would take each other on, but in general we were pretty nice to each other. 

Although Rhod cheated several times and was not taken to account on it. I’ve obeyed the rules pretty much every time – to my detriment, it turns out. 

If nothing else Taskmaster is teaching me to reconsider the role the law has to play in society. It turns out these are not hard and fast rules we live by and they’re open to interpretation.

Is there a difference between the ways in which millennials approached the tasks compared to the older contestants?

Definitely. I think between me, the youngest, and Rhod, the oldest, there’s a very obvious disparity in attitudes. He’s from a different generation, you know? 

I’ve played by the rules, I have done things stringently in a considered manner, and Rhod has attempted every task with this sort of insane abandon that one must develop that close to death. 

How helpful is Little Alex Horne when you’re doing the tasks? 

He is on occasion useful, but more often an added psychological obstacle. 

Because he tries to play off like he’s some innocent, impartial bystander, but he’s more a subtle trickster god who gets in your head. He actually gets in your head more than Greg. 

Because Greg will just say to your face that he hates you and he thinks you’re stupid, whereas Alex will subliminally suggest your incompetence. There are little looks and winks. 

That said, he’ll do whatever you tell him to do. Which I think I didn’t take advantage of. 

Sorry to bring him up again but Rhod has, on a number of occasions, literally put Alex’s life in danger, when I was nervous to touch him in case he may have been uncomfortable. 

So there are things you would do differently if you were going to do it again?

Oh yes. Many. 

I’d be more ruthless, I’d pay less attention to the rules, I’d be quicker. 

And I wouldn’t tell Greg how young I am. I was actually warned not to do it, but I thought people were just kidding me. 

I bombed at all the tasks that you can’t measure objectively. After I told him how young I was it started to happen more and more. 

• Taskmaster series 7 starts on Dave at 9pm on  Wednesday September 5, with the second episode available on UKTV Play  immediately afterwards.

Published: 27 Aug 2018

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