Whether on Outland, Strange Calls or Laid, Truslove is a perfectly lovable loser.
“It’s a little bit of me! I do love an underdog because they’re the funn-est characters to play. The romantic lead is never a fun role. The best friend is always the funn-est role. The sidekick gets the funniest lines and they get to muck around,” he says.
“I’m affable and I’m absolutely a loser. Proudly!
“But it’s important to make fun of pomposity and people who think they’ve got things right. The thing about playing the lovable loser is you need to know the pathos, the sadness behind the comedy in order to parody life. You have to know what’s miserable in order to show the other side of it.”
The other side of Truslove isn’t just as actor, he’s also a keen improviser as evidenced by his role in Seven’s new entertainment show SlideShow.
Based on a French format, the show sees guest performers join in range of improvisation challenges before facing a purpose-built tilting floor set. TV suddenly turns into slapstick, silent movie fun without a safety net, and without the safety net of a script.
“Sophie Monk almost killed me during one of the slide scenes. She threw herself in with high heels and tackled me to the ground. She almost concussed me,” Truslove recalls.
“Brynne Edelsten was hilarious. She’s very switched on about how she is perceived and her persona. She made the first gags about herself.”
There are two enormous sliding sets (one more than the French series) with host Grant Denyer. Whilst the slide is a highlight it’s not the sum total of the show.
“The slide is spectacular because it’s on a great big set, but the smaller games were often more fun. There’s a game with a trapeze and another drawing on giant screens and one with gadgets,” he says.
“One had people just yelling at each other trying to guess things and you’d see people’s personalities come out really quickly. Especially the competitive ones. You push them and you realise ‘Right that’s how you got good at your job, because you’re very competitive.’
“You see a glimmer in their eye and a bit of blood trickle out of their nose as they get furious trying to guess things.”
While Thank God You’re Here had a successful improvisation run on both Seven and TEN, other networks have attempted pilots based around improvisation without success. Truslove says the genre works best when there is a clear structure.
“Improv works best when you have two minutes, you say to the audience ‘This is how it works.’ Go! But some improv goes on forever on TV so it’s either going to look bad or if it’s great people think ‘Maybe they wrote that before?’
“But with Thank God You’re Here you understood the parameters and jeopardy, and you could fail. And the failures were kept in, to make the good stuff look good. SlideShow is a bit similar because it’s ‘Here’s the thing, it’s this amount of time, away we go!’ And it happens in real time.”
Truslove appears each week as one of two team captains (Cal Wilson is the other) and guests include Frank Woodley, Colin Lane, Jo Stanley, Mike McCleish, Anh Do, Tiffiny Hall, Johnny Ruffo and Geoff Paine.
“There’s no captain’s hat, no uniform, no badge,” says Captain Truslove. “But I get to play favourites. But if someone doesn’t want to play a game I can let them off the hook. I’m quite easily bribed by cake.
“Even though the points don’t matter at all, I still wanted to beat (Cal). It’s bragging rights. At the end I assumed there would be some sort of medallion for winning –but it hasn’t come yet!”
Whether SlideShow matches the success of Thank God You’re Here remains to be seen, but Truslove notes even those who were facing the games with absolute dread were won over.
“There were some ashen faces with people saying ‘I’m no good at this, I’m going to die out there!’ But you don’t want everyone to be good at it,” he insists.
“If people are sweating buckets and you can see panic I’d think ‘Let’s explore that panic! That’s a good thing!’
“Nobody ever walked out of the show having a bad time. Most people came back again and everyone asked to come back again.”
If SlideShow is a success Truslove may be known for more than being a lovable loser.
“As long I get to keep playing them, I will keep playing them!” he grins.
SlideShow premieres 7:30pm Wednesday on Seven.