When ABC first teased their new question & answer show I didn’t really understand the premise of presenters answering questions submitted by the audience.
After all we have Google to tell us anything we don’t know, right? And YouTube to show us how to change a tyre or repot an indoor plant.
So what can 6 wacky presenters on WTFAQ (pronounced What the FAQ?) add to the process that is going to demand 30 minutes of my time in the process? The answer to that question, is not very much.
It takes most of the first 1:47mins just to tell us how to submit a question, which strikes me as a little superfluous given this season is filmed and completed (unless Aunty has quietly greenlit a second season?).
The first question is “Does feeling cold make you more likely to catch a cold?”
Google gave me the answer in about 1 second.
Presenter Alex Lee, in a friendly hybrid of science and sketch comedy, explores the topic for 3 mins 35 secs -although truth be told she answers it in the first 30 seconds.
“To get a cold you need to catch it from someone else, carrying a respiratory virus, like the rhinovirus. You cannot get it just from being cold.” Spoiler alert?
In a scenes reminiscent of The Curiosity Show, Lee flips a whiteboard, looks at a sneeze with a high-speed camera, cops a gust of air from a leaf-blower, meets Dr. Norman Swan and dodges a running gag from her mother (or actress-as-mother) insisting she just wear a warm jacket.
It’s all very elaborate and I’m already wondering how many crew set-ups and rehearsals were involved to give me an answer Goggle gave me for ‘free’ in 1 second.
Lawrence Leung explores the question “Should you keep your tomato sauce in the fridge?”
Again, Goggle answere in another one second search.
It takes Lawrence another 3.30 mins to justify the reasoning behind his answer with a one-month storage experiment and meeting Sydney Uni’s enviromental microbiologist Nick Coleman. His co-hosts join in on the bacterial test as a bit of light entertainment, and hey, Lawrence is wearing a jumper (another Curiosity Show nod?).
Chas Licciardello asks “Is it really dangerous to use my phone on the plane?”
Google: one second.
This one stretches to over 6.30 mins, and I’d like to submit a question to ask if actor Conrad Coleby will be adding this show to his CV after his cameo appearance as a faux-Civil Aviation Authority spokesperson?
Chas also hears from Central Queensland Uni’s Head of Aviation Prof. Doug Drury but mostly loves to act up in airport and plane simulation, joined by a few passenger extras, and even donning a parachute in a field for one moment.
The show also explores the questions, What came first, the chicken or the egg?; Does eating celery burn more calories than you gain from eating it?; Can I lift a car to save my baby?; Are phones dangerous to use at petrol bowsers? (the latter is sort of piggybacked onto the air safety question).
Also featuring are presenters Kirsten Drysdale, Cameron James and Lou Wall, which leaves Licciardello as the most seasoned of the troupe, now less anarchic than his Chaser days. But this feels like a broadcaster desire to regain a bit of The Checkout audience.
I suppose there may be ABC watchers grateful to be told the best place to keep their sauce bottle but seriously, even older viewers know how to search online in 2023. So what’s the point of this show?
If it’s to entertain I think the spend could have been diverted more wisely on the actors, crew, research and ‘failed comedy writers’ (their words not mine).
I don’t know if WTFAQ is planned to succeed Q+A but maybe ABC’s partnering with RMIT University for ABC Fact Check might have been a better concept for a show and would carry a bit more gravitas than five nerdy presenters and some hired extras. Sorry.
I also can’t quite grasp why the show has been given a primetime slot when it feels like it should be screened on ABC ME.
So I guess I have a few questions about this show that I could submit.
The first one is: Why?
WTFAQ 9pm Wednesday on ABC