The Existential Dread of the Current Affairs TV Show Co-Host
by David Cook, 3.49am May 10th 2022

You had work done yesterday and now your teeth gleam like you’re starring in a toothpaste commercial, but your smile veers on a grimace. Your pompous bore of a co-host, Bruce, is shouting as per usual, hollering over guests and loudly proffering thick-headed judgements, opinion metamorphosing into fact by dint of sheer volume. Big Head Bruce, the newspapers call him. He’s working himself up again, his face pinkening as he jabs a finger at an unfortunate interviewee, demanding contrition, submission, genuflection. You try to get a word in, but he talks over you too, drowning you in a tidal wave of verbal bullshit.

You wish fervently that something would happen to make Big Head shut up and, as you do, something uncanny happens. Impossibly, his head begins to swell, slowly at first but then faster and faster, larger and larger, like a meaty balloon. The guest shuffles backwards, panic in his eyes, but Bruce doesn’t seem to have noticed anything. He just keeps ranting and roaring, his anger deafening even as his skin stretches to breaking point, veins around his eyes pulsing. There’s a squeal in your earpiece from the director, who shouts ‘What the fuck?!’, and then there’s a deafening BANG and globs of brain and shards of bone go flying across the set. Bruce slumps lifeless onto his desk but you, ever the professional, keep smiling, flick some grey ooze from your sleeve, turn to the camera and say, ‘And now the weather.’

Then the fantasy fades. Your wish hasn’t really come true. Bruce is bawling with rage now, while the guest, kowtowed, quivers quietly in his chair. You swear for the millionth time you’ll quit right after the show. You hate the job. But your profile has soared since you first appeared alongside Bruce and now you appear on chat shows, quiz shows, the whole gamut of early-evening, family-friendly television. If you quit you might lose all that. Spittle drips from Bruce’s mouth as he ramps up his anger another notch. Somehow this behaviour keeps the ratings climbing, an incomprehensible brand of black magic.

You dismiss thoughts of quitting. You just can’t do it. You can’t lose everything. No, this is it for you, for Bruce, for everyone, for every day, forever.

‘And now the weather,’ he says. He’s stolen your line, the pompous shitbag.

Inside you burn, but you simply turn the smile up a notch and hope it blinds everyone to the void in your eyes.