QI Watchdown: B12 (Birth)

Thus we’ve arrived at the last episode for Series B. This has been a pretty nice season, and there have been a few nice episodes, helped with the inclusion of episode-long runners (“JO’S GOT QUIM!!”). We come to our closer, a Christmas episode, featuring two excellent recurring guests, and a guy who seems to recur on a lot of panel shows.

Mark Steel was on a few episodes of Mock the Week, so I know him, but, like Jeremy Hardy, I really don’t remember his humor. All I remember is him laughing in the corner whenever Frankie would have a great joke. I think he was present for the taping that gave us the Richard Hammond Wedding Day joke, and the David Blunkett SpecSavers joke. He didn’t really do anything, he was just laughing in the corner. I imagine he’ll be alright here.

Another Rich Hall appearance, another poker jacket.

Glad to see Phill back, after a hefty wait between his last episode. Maybe it’s nice that he spaces them out, so I won’t tire of him like I’ll probably end up doing with Rich.

Buzzers are somewhat-musically-themed. Rich’s is a drum-beat, like the beginning of a march, which he amusedly bobs along to. Mark’s is a piano riff. Phill’s is a triumphant British trumpet theme, which is rises in salute to, which was pretty funny. Alan’s is a weird yodel tune.

For the first time EVER, we get to see what the audience looks like on QI, as Alan points out that someone in the ‘Alan’ rows looks like Crocodile Dundee.

I expected Alan to get the ‘helium’ question wrong, but it gets him two points. No, what gets him the Klaxon is his guess that helium makes your voice go up.

Wow, Stephen said they were gonna have everyone suck helium, but “Heath and Fucking Safety” declined. Even Rich is baffled by this. “What did they think could possibly happen? We’d float away?”

I laughed at Mark’s Eastenders joke without even seeing the show, the fact that they all suck the stuff behind the fridge to get their voices like that.

Phill cracks me up just being Phill. To answer the Santa/penguin question, he just changed his demeanor entirely and goes “KIDS…LOVE ‘EM!”

Alan notices that one of the penguins on the screen is a bit more frisky and energetic than the other. Phill says this as a headline: ‘Scientists give ecstasy to ONE PENGUIN.” And then he starts doing an impression of a penguin on ecstasy. Already Phill’s on fire.

On orgasming penguins:
Phill: ‘What sound do they make?”
Stephen: They sound a little like Angela Rippon.”
Alan: (taking him literally) “‘Good evening, and this is the news…'”
Phill: “….THIS JUST IN!”

The whole bit about penguins trying to find each other while making love is great too.
Stephen: “You can use GPS these days…”
Alan: “Only if you’re doin’ it in the Jag…”

Okay, my first laugh-so-hard-I-cried moment of the episode concerned the castrated Italian whom they had recorded and played for the panel. After a few seconds of high-pitched singing, Rich just says “wait, this is the sound of the actual operation.” I nearly died. Alan helped it out by going “in a minute you’d hear SSSSSHHHHUMMM!”

You know the Elves are having fun when the word ‘ASS’ flashes across the Klaxon screen, even when Alan guesses “donkey”. The audience gets a nice laugh at that.

The bit keeps getting better when LITERALLY every animal they guess is wrong.

Mark’s style of jokes is nice, but it’s the kind that builds on itself, rather than other people’s. On QI, jokes are more collaborative. Maybe that’s why Mark did more Mock the Week, which definitely rewarded the individual.

I love how Stephen mentions he did an interview with the president of Uganda, and all of the sudden Phill starts laughing hysterically. Mark even adds “No other person could say that.”

Mark starts telling a story about David Frost, and Stephen interrupts him by going, “NO, THIS IS MY STORY!” This cracks up Mark.

Phill’s reaction to finding out that King Herod’s wife was name Doris cracked me up. He just has this confused expression, and yells “DORIS HEROD!?!?” Kinda like ‘Adolf Elizabeth Hitler?’

Phill even makes a Life of Brian reference at the Doris Herod gag. Respect points to Phill.

Rich has the best way of ending the round- “I just wanted to move on because my mom’s name is Doris.”

On a picture of the ‘water bear’, Phill goes “That’s not a bear! It’s the Sydney Opera House!” He’s just full of great lines tonight.

And then, after the Water Bear joke, Phill just goes, in a Yogi Bear voice, ‘that’s not a nice way to treat a BEAR!’

A good indication of how well a panel can work together- Phill has a joke about a worker putting his tongue on the absolute zero machine, and Stephen and Alan both chimed in and aided the joke, Stephen by yelling “FRANK!”, and Alan by acting as the ‘warning’ buzzer.

This episode does lead to a classic QI moment- Alan and Stephen switch places for General Ignorance. I don’t care how staged it looks, I don’t care if they producers planned this. It still leads to one of the most amusing rounds in the show’s history.

Yeah, Alan’s first question off the bat for Stephen is ‘who plays goal for Aston-Villa”, which is a football reference that he KNOWS Stephen won’t get. Hell, the elves even have pictures of the goalkeeper behind him and everything. The even funnier part is that he gets it.

Alan has this little, weak realization after Stephen gets that question right.

There’s nothing more satisfying that Alan forcing Stephen to get a klaxon, and the joy he gets when he gets to go ‘OOOOOOHHHHHHH!” at Stephen’s expense.

Dear Gosh, even ALAN was surprised that Stephen’s guess of ‘Four states of matter’ was Klaxon’d. Man, this is a hell of a show for Alan.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Phill episode without an impression of Stephen, with the bathroom question. “I’M THE MAAAAASTER, OF THE BAAATH! BAAAAAA!”

Alan gets a lot of joy when Stephen gets another klaxon, and even goes, almost rehearsed, “Oh, Fry. You idiot.”

Stephen does have a great moment when, from the India question, he just starts yelling “DO NOT SAY COW! DO NOT SAY COW!” And then Phill, absolutely deadpan, goes “….the cow.”

I love how Rich and Mark are sitting back and not saying much this round. They’re just letting Stephen fail a bit.

Rich wins because he got his lead and let Stephen piss away anybody else’s chance at winning.

I love the fact that Stephen announces that he got 4 less points than Alan, getting -56.

Final Thoughts: MAN THAT WAS A NICE ONE! Literally everyone on the panel was on par tonight, even Mark, who was still funny despite being more suited to Mock the Week. Phill and Rich had landmark performances, and Alan had the night of his career, stepping in for Stephen for a round, and just having fun with it.

Best Guest: Phill
Show Winner: Rich
Best QI Fact: Italian Barbers.


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