Wednesday, December 8


First of all, is it "pogey" or "pogie"?  And shouldn't it be "poagey".  How does one ensure the hard-g in its pronunciation?

Last summer, one of our Sketch 22 videos was called Joe Stamps, a take-off of the "reality" show Joe Millionaire.  The video documented the moment in the fake Joe Stamps reality show where the Joe Stamps character tells the three remaining "Tammy"s that he's not actually the catch they think he was.  That he's not, as promised, about to receive maximum Employment Insurance benefits, and therefore, the "winning Tammy" will not be able to live the life of lazy luxury for 9 months as Joe Stamps welfare woman.  Joe Stamps gleefully tells the women that he's not getting his stamps.  He "don't even got no prospects.  So any of yuz that ends up shackin' up with me will be doin' it outta love.  Or whatever."

Well, I think a show like this has real potential.  So, here's my idea for a reality show I call "Pogey!".
The goal is to be the last remaining contestant, to be the one who accumulates 12 weeks of Insurable Wages and will therefore be the only one who qualifies for EI.
The show selects 12 people who have no job, and who currently have no accumulation of Employable Hours or Weeks (or however it's designated now).  These people are Hired To Do Nothing.  They are all paid top dollar to do nothing (to ensure top EI dollars to the winner), and will all live together, in a duplex.  They will be required to perform tasks and challenges as part of their "job", but the majority of their time will be spent doing nothing much.
The tasks and challenges will all relate in some way to the stereotype of the lazy welfare bum.  Even though these contestants will be "working", their job is basically to live as though they are poor and unemployed.  It's really the dream job of dream jobs.
Each week, one contestant gets laid off.  The longer you stay, the more insurable weeks you accumulate.

At the end of the 13 week job, the top two contestants battle to  see who is the ultimate winner... In fact, the ultimate winner does not get laid off, but rather remains hired by the production company and continues for the next three years, to get paid the same wage for doing nothing.  The runner-up gets laid off with the necessary accumulation to begin EI right away.
The show would "hire" all kinds of people from all walks of life.  They all would, however, perform challenges and tasks that might be more suited to, shall we say, the lower class of people.

Some challenges, off the top of my head:
In the first few episode, they'd be divided into two teams.  One challenge would be a relay race of sorts:  The team must bum enough money to afford the money for the following tasks:  Player 1 must go to Kens Corner and buy a tin of tobacco and rolling papers.  Run back to the apartment and roll 20 smokes.  Once completed, Player Two calls a cab which takes him/her to the Liquor Store across town to buy a two-four.  S/he must then take the box back to the apartment without the assistance of a vehicle.  Once completed, Player Three begins to cook up four boxes of Basics Macaroni & Cheese and, once cooked, must eat it all.  Following that, the entire team must then drink the beer as quickly as possible.
First team to finish all 24 beer is declared the winner.  The losing team must decide which co-worker gets laid off.

Another challenge, this one as individuals:  As an example of what will be expected of the person on who eventually wins EI, each contestant is told they will be interviewed by an Employment Insurance Agent.  To prepare, they each must go out and actively pursue work from 5 employers, so that each will have a list of 5 places they looked for work that they can show the agent when asked.
The one who best demonstrates to the EI agent that s/he was serious about finding a job, will remain hired for at least one more week.  One of the remaining losers will be laid off.

Any other challenges or tasks you can think of?


Rob said...

Another challenge: Here's $50. Go buy some stuff at the Charlottetown Mall Flea Market. Then, take your newly-purchased items, clean/fix them up if needed/able, and try to sell them to Cash Converters.
The person who returns from Cash Converters with the most money will remain hired for at least one more week.

dylan said...

I think your being far too kind to your contestants. Giving them money for challenges is too easy an out.
I like the smoke rolling challenge but why supply them with tobacco. There are plenty of gov't buildings with "butt stop" stations at the doors which provide a great source of free tobacco. Maybe you could give them the rolling papers but the prize could go to the first to roll 20 smokes and smoke them.
As for food challenges. Time to send our contestants to various food banks to see who can get the best meal. MMMM canned ham or terrible SPAM who can make the best meal from there scavenging. You got bread that's not stale WINNER!

Rob said...

I think, Dylan, the idea of the show, at least to my mind, is to honour the pogey ideal of living comfortably enough without having to work much. Kind of a low-rent Big Brother meets Apprentice meets Survivor meets the Welfare Officer.
Your impression seems to be for a show that is a much more sinister affair. Your idea seems to be much more 'no income' than 'low income'. Nothing wrong with that. Yours is kind of Fear Factor meets Hobos.

dylan said...

I guess my experiences with people living on pogey have been a bit different then yours. Possibly because of the trials and tribulations that the EI office can put you through. I personally never went through butt stops myself for tobacco but know two people who did regularly. I did have to make use of the food bank when I was last on UI (that's what it was the last time I was on it)and found myself with a mix of some sketchy groceries including vienna sausages (who thinks poor people want those to eat) and the classic Basics Macaroni and Cheese. I may not be a fan of the Kraft Mac and Cheese but it kicks the heck out of the Basics version.
My thought was that the prospect of full Pogey appeals to those people who don't have the full ride. Indeed the max Pogey check allows you to live comfortably until you go back to your good paying job or fishing. But your contestants are without prospects and desperate so I figured they needed tougher challenges. I definately am being crueler to the contestants but low income living breeds a tough sort.

Calico Cat said...

I think you need the seasonal worker highway pogey 'flagger' fashion show. Female contestants can dress in thier finest spandex while holding the Stop/Go sign in one hand and a Player's Light smoke in the other.. Points can be based on obesity. Male contestants could be awarded style points for Tim Horton coffee holding while leaning on shovels...
MLA's can be the judges

frankie said...

I think you have a great idea there Rob. Too bad we don't have a Canadian version of Mark Burnett for you to take it to. I saw him on the Today show today plugging his new Martha Stewart reality show. Lots of fun.