Last year, I, an American, watched a british panel show all the way through. The panel show in question was Mock the Week, and I left satisfied, enriched, confused, and with a way darker sense of humor (thanks to Frankie Boyle). However, in my first semester or so of college, a friend of mine told me of another panel show, a possibly funnier and undoubtedly stranger one: QI.
I’d heard of the show, because I knew of Stephen Fry, and I knew of his brand of cerebral humor, so I figured I’d give it a shot. The one thing that QI had going for it was the fact that it only has one non-host regular, rather than Mock the Week, which had a varying number. That came to be Mock the Week’s undoing, because once Frankie, and then Russell, and then Chris left, the show became rather boring, and I had to move on out of habit rather than actually watching the damned thing.
I don’t think I’m going to get any of that with QI, because the regulars aren’t depleting as the show gets on–I’ve been told to watch for Phill Jupitus when he joins, so I’m looking forward to his arrival.
Unlike Mock the Week, I’m going to document this one via WordPress, so any observations I have, or any good jokes, or anything of that sort, is going down here.
So…onto the writeup.
Okay, I enjoy this show right off the bat, simply because of Stephen Fry’s attitude towards it. He knows that he’s doing this quiz show for fun, not for any intellectual merits. Plus, this is the exact same Stephen Fry that I thoroughly enjoyed on Whose Line (and practically everything else)
Danny Baker is the first panel member, and I cannot say I’ve heard of him, however, he looks like the poor fellow who lives across the street from me, with his explosion-prone hairdo.
WAIT…JOHN SESSIONS IS IN THIS? Holy fuck, how many successful UK TV Series’ is John Sessions in the first episode of, anyway? He was the regular for the first series of Whose Line, and got kicked off because…well, everyone hated his guts. Hopefully the hatred will be less evident here. Hoping for more of a ‘we can exist in the same room as you’ kind of hatred, sort of like Frankie and Hugh’s disdain for Michael McIntire.
Another double-take from me when Hugh Laurie is introduced. Like…Hugh Laurie is a relatively big star, even by 2003 standards. He was two years away from House, but he was enough of a household name to make me wonder what, other than supporting his good friend Stephen, he was doing there. This is his only episode, so I think he’s just doing it for Stephen.
Alan Davies is the regular. I don’t really have a sense of what kind of regular he’ll be, if he’ll be more of a Ryan Stiles or a Frankie Boyle, but I guess we’re all gonna find out.
Alright, the buzzer joke is a nice one, but one that apparently ages well as the show goes on. I’ve already been shown a clip of Alan’s buzzer going on for about thirty seconds, and him pissing everybody off when he buzzes in mid-episode.
First good laugh when Alan’s about to answer something, and the background changes on him. Stephen’s only explanation is “we do this”.
A good minute or so is spent quizzing John Sessions, noted Shakespearean actor and famous git, on when famous historical figures were born and died, which is a skill I had no idea he had.
Danny’s answer is deemed correct, “as simple as that”. I didn’t think there WERE simple answers in this damned show. I do like what Alan does with this gag, with the Noah bit.
I just noticed, seven minutes in, that Hugh Laurie hasn’t said a whole hell of a lot so far, while the other three have been quite talkative. Is he just out of his element?
First Appearance of the aforementioned ‘QI Elves’, when Danny says ‘new balls please’ in response to the Caravaggio joke. Instead of it flashing onscreen, Stephen just holds up the card and deducts 10 points.
Aaaand Stephen has the first excellent quote of the night, still on Caravaggio, connecting a topic to Italian Homosexuals.
Alan: Are there any Italian homosexuals in the room?
Stephen: My dressing room is 315…
Another observation: the answers are rather simple, by comparison, in this one.
Hugh has a great moment, when it’s his turn to answer, but John buzzes in. The betrayed look on his face is great. And then the argument they have about Edward Woodward is great.
Okay, I may make fun of John Sessions for being a bit egocentric, but his “exit, pursued by an anteater” joke was not only a nice reference, but I laughed. And I’m surprised more people didn’t. Especially considering that this guy’s a Shakespearean actor. Like, not like a fake one.
I can see why Alan’s such a favorite of many people, because his anteater joke, and his tongue joke, were audience favorites, and I laughed. He doesn’t always hit though.
I loved the little detail of Alan’s sheep buzzer turning into a dog halfway through, and only him noticing. Also, same round, Alan’s Frankie Boyle-ish comment ‘it’d be interesting if we got all the suicide notes and published them as a book’. Alan has a lot of weird, verge-of-insane comments that are really funny.
I think there’s a hint of how evil Stephen would get with the ‘What is the 23rd Tallest Tree in the World’ one. That’s so difficult that it warrants a laugh.
Alan cracked me up throughout the episode because he kept trying to earn points just by naming interesting things he knew, regardless of whether or not they pertained to the topic.
Danny ends up winning, and Alan ends up with negative five points. It’s funny, because the two funnier people got the lesser amount of points, him and John.
Final Thoughts: I already get a feel for how the rest of the show’s going to turn out. Alan is very loose and crazy, and there’s a reason why he’s got a lot of fans on the show. John…for some reason I liked John, although I never really did when he was on Whose Line. Hugh was very reserved, and seemed a bit out of his element, and Danny had a modest night, having some good jokes, but mostly there to know stuff.
Episode MVP: Alan
Best Guest: John Sessions