“Make and demonstrate the best method of transport inside your home. You must be able to get in or on your method of transport. You have 30 hours. Your time starts now.”
With that, Yellowknife’s Denley family began plotting how to win the latest episode of Hometasking, a global challenge devised by the hosts of a British TV show.
The Youtube challenge is a spin-off from Taskmaster, a show that asks its guests to attempt various comedic or bizarre tasks on-camera.
Hometasking – a response to Covid-19 and restrictions that keep people at home – takes those tasks inside your own four walls. People film their families trying to meet the challenge and the best attempts feature in a weekly montage. A winner is always crowned.
“They started broadcasting these tasks out to the internet and I stumbled across them. I showed one or two of them to Becca and we decided to take a crack at them,” said Adam Denley.
“It’s a directed, targeted activity that’s fun and has a little reward at the end of it.”
The first one the Denleys tried involved “doing something extraordinary with a pair of trousers.”
Thirty hours later, they were dancing on-camera to James Brown’s Sex Machine – alongside empty pairs of trousers moving to the beat using broom handles and ski poles. Their entry placed in that week’s montage. The Denleys were hooked.
“We kept doing it but got the kids involved and that was even more fun. It was a great break for them,” said Becca Denley.
Imagining a rocket ship
The 11th task in the series involved coming up with a method of transport inside your home.
“My first thought was we could just put wheels on something but that’s not particularly creative,” said Adam. “You want to do the most surprising thing.
“I was thinking of trying to make a funicular rail line going up the staircase, but that might lead to somebody going flying down the stairs. So that was a bad idea.”
Becca had the idea to use forced perspective.
“Our coffee press looks like a 1950s imagining of a rocket ship,” said Adam. “So we tried to find a way to climb inside it.”
Preparing to board the Denleys’ coffee press.
From a carefully chosen angle, the camera watches the Denleys’ two children – Alice, four, and Evelyn, six – clamber “into” the coffee press, followed by their parents.
With the help of some string and a piece of paper coloured to look like a burning engine, the coffee press then blasts off.
It was enough to win that week’s contest, defeating cats in homemade armoured tanks, dogs riding sailboats pulled by vacuum cleaners, and downstair bobsleds.
Bunk beds became aquarium
The family’s prize for first place among hundreds of entries, viewed more than 100,000 times on YouTube? Ten points on the Hometasking leaderboard.
They are tied for eighth place worldwide in the series to date.
“We’ve all got hours to spare,” said Adam, referring to the pandemic and the NWT’s restrictions on gatherings.
“Our younger girl enjoyed doing the rocket ship one because that involved sliding down the couch.
“The other one is really interested in theatre. She’s very energized about Hometasking.”
Becca described transforming the girls’ bunk beds into an aquarium for a task that required beds be turned into “something that isn’t a bed.”
For hours the family made little fish and clam shells, designed rigging so the component parts would move, put the girls in wetsuits with snorkels, then turned them into mermaids.
“It was a lot of work for 20 seconds,” said Becca.
But she adds the effort is worth it for the chance to be a part of the global Hometasking community, which is mostly found on Twitter.
The Denleys’ videos tend to attract attention whenever they film outside.
“Some people had never seen ice and snow like that, especially in April,” said Becca. “So there’s a lot of curiosity from other hometaskers out there.”
The Denleys aren’t the only Yellowknifers already taking part in Hometasking. To join, watch out for new challenges set each Monday.