Man, do they MEAN for these Series D panels to be this good?
Tonight, which is a special Children in Need episode, QI has put together three really good guests. Two of them are my favorite recurring panelists, Rich Hall and Phill Jupitus. The other one is somebody I wouldn’t have expected to show up on QI. So, let’s dive in.
Jonathan Ross I’ve heard of, even as an American, from hosting the Jonathan Ross show, and being one of the more recognizable TV presenters of the last 25 years. Without him, we’d never had seen Christopher Walken reading Three Little Pigs or Poker Face. Also, Jonathan is married to one of my favorite screenwriters in Hollwood, Jane Goldman, who wrote Stardust, Kingsman, X-Men: First Class, and is writing Tim Burton’s next movie. Still, I’m really happy that Jonathan Ross made it on, even if it is for a charity show.
A gigantic Pudsey Bear suit is sitting in Alan’s place. Which is odd. Unless it’s Alan in the suit…which is still odd.
Phill’s buzzer is an annoying child ‘noo-but-yeah-but-noo-but-yeah-but-noo’, which he annoys Stephen with by buzzing again right as he’s about to cut over to Jonathan. His is a woman’s voice going ‘Am I bovvered?’ Rich’s is a cockney-accented ‘FLOBIDOBIDOBIDOB!”, which he has no idea how to react to.
Halfway through Pudsey’s buzzer, a very confused Alan comes onstage, to applause, and asks what the hell’s going on. The best part of this semi-scripted gag is Phill basically pushing the sad mascot off the stage.
Stephen: “What do children have that adults do not?”
Rich has a line that makes me wonder why this is the first time we’re seeing him this season. “People are now showing babies on their phones, and they look like cashews with hair comin’ out of them.The only thing you can say is ‘nice phone’.”
Phill has a great out-of-context line: “How long do you have to wait for your baby to harden?’
Stephen: “What grunts like a pig and has children three times their own size?”
Maybe I’ve been watching too much Mock the Week, but I was half-expecting Frankie Boyle to show up and guess ‘Kerry Katona’.
Alan, for whatever reason, decides to roll out his world-famous Mexican accent again. After the aforementioned paradoxical frog, he says ‘How do they say that in Spanish. PARADOXEECAL FRAAAG!”
Stephen, on Barbie: “But what was it that she finally managed to get in the year 2000?”
Stephen: “Barbie spoke for the first time in 1992. D’you know one of the first things she said?”
Jonathan: “WHERE’S MY NAVEL?”
(Stephen’s already cracking up)
Jonathan: “NO MEANS NO!”
(Stephen cracks up harder)
Jonathan: “STOP LOOKING DOWN THERE! I DON’T HAVE BITS!”
Even after Stephen says the right answer, Jonathan’s still going “IT’S A PARADOXICAL FROG, KEN!”
Stephen: “I really love shopping”
Jonathan, who is on a roll, “Do you, but what did Barbie say, Stephen?”
I didn’t know Jonathan Ross was this much of a Comic Book geek. Stephen asks him who Spider-Man’s greatest archenemy is, and he says ‘Green Goblin’. Stephen says he was looking for Kingpin, and Jonathan goes, which is exactly what I’d go, ‘yeah, but he’s really a Daredevil villain now.’
Jonathan is saying a lot, but I have a feeling he came off as obnoxious, which is why the producers never invited him back. I’m not sure his style really meshes with what QI is all about.
Also, to this point, Rich and Phill aren’t saying too much. Which is bad, cause those are the guys I came to see.
Rich finally says something, a complete ‘Rich makes something up to make it interesting’ moment: “Lemme tell you something about Spider Man. Originally he was called Spiderman. He was Jewish. He, uh, he couldn’t fight crime on the Sabbath.”
Jonathan does have this very pedantic moment, where he explains all of these long things that led to the creation of the comics code of the authority. However, it ends in a good moment, saying the code had rules like ‘you can’t say frick’ in comics, “fearing that the r and the i would merge together, and Spiderman would look like he’s saying “LOOK, HE’S GOT A FUCK-KNIFE!”
I love how as Jonathan’s answering the Roald Dahl question, his buzzer flat out breaks. He then puts it back into place and it works again.
Here’s the thing about Jonathan, as we get further down the spiral. We’ve seen a couple different versions of the trope ‘PEOPLE WHO KNOW EVERYTHING’. We’ve seen John Sessions, who can be pedantic and occasionally funny, Rory McGrath, who can be pedantic and obnoxious and Vic Reeves, who can actually make his knowledge very interesting. Jonathan vexes me, because he is very funny, and he does have some great moments, but he comes off here as obnoxious, and sort of halts the game to spill his knowledge, even if it is a bit funny. Sometimes this knowledge can be impressive, sometimes it can be needlessly pedantic. I think he’s well enough this episode that i can enjoy him, but I’m glad i don’t have to see him in another episode.
Stephen: “Who can hum the most listened-to tune in the world?”
And, of course, Jonathan starts doing Crazy Frog, which sets the klaxon off.
Alan guesses the right song, which is the king you hear on ringtones everywhere (circa 2006). Stephen tells him it was written by a Spanish composer, to which Alan responds by humming the same tune in his Spanish accent. To this episode’s credit, it’s giving us a lot of crazy Alan.
Stephen mentions that Fearne Cotton and Terry Wogan started this event, so he asks about ferns.
Alan: ‘Fearne’s what?’
This leads to what might be the only good Phill moment this episode. Phill hears this ‘ferns’ prompt, and decides he’s gonna screw with Stephen. So, he says, in a Newcastle accent, “they make a canny noise, like.” Stephen doesn’t get it. So he repeats it. “Fheeehns. They meek a cunny noise laak.” And Stephen’s still confused. Alan has to spell the joke out by going “I AM SPEAKING…ON THE FEEEHHHHNNN!” And then Stephen gets it.
Right afterward, as he’s still confused, he goes “but isn’t ‘cunny’, doesn’t that refer to the female pudenda?’ Phill face palms, and goes, which must be the line of the episode: “Take my advice- NEVER GO TO NEWCASTLE. You’ll go out there and it’ll be- WHOOOOOAA!”
And then Phill tells another Newcastle-ish joke…and Stephen still doesn’t get it, making Phill end up clutching the huggable bear on his desk, in anguish, going ‘OH, PUDDSEY MAKE HIM STOP!”
So…Rich has gone about ten minutes without saying anything. And this is…odd. I kind of thought Jonathan’s been putting him off, sort of like Phill, and he’s just not getting any words in edgewise. But, right after the Terry Wogan question, he buzzes in and goes “Ever since the clangers, I’ve been lost. The last picture I recognized was the KKK, and that’s pretty sad..”
The end of GI is obviously meant to toot the telethon’s horn, and Stephen’s saying how they raised 17 million last year. Alan mentions “that’s not very good in terms of the rate of inflation, is it?’ Stephen, getting cross, goes ‘Are you urging the public to do better.’ And then we get the ultimate FU to all this, the sole reason they never did another one of these specials:
Alan goes “they’ve probably got other things to spend their money on…”
And the whole time, Stephen’s going “THAT’S NOT HOW IT WORKS!!”, trying to legitimize the charity, meanwhile Jonathan and Alan are cracking up.
Jonathan Ross wins with 3 (million). Not very surprising.
Rich figures out he’s finishes second, and is very confused. He looks at Jonathan and goes ‘what?’ He even knows he had a shitty day.
Once Phill hears he’s in third, he turns toward Alan, playfully, and goes ‘AGAIN?’ I love this, because it’s the only point in the episode where Phill gets to be himself. He seemed very stunted by Jonathan being on the show and hogging the spotlight. Maybe it’s a Frankie Boyle-Michael McIntire thing, where one so detests the other that it brings his performance down.
Overall: This was a weird-ass episode. Yes, it was very funny, and had some great moments, but the dynamic was downright freaky! Jonathan seemed to control the whole game, and only Alan was nice enough to play with him. Rich and Phill either didn’t like him or didn’t really know any of the questions (at least that was Rich’s alibi). This is a similar case to Common Knowledge, only unlike that one, where at least you had Sean buffering Rory by fucking with him every chance he got, this episode had cowering instead of buffering. Jonathan was the wrong choice for this show, but I’ll say I did laugh a few times at his stuff.
Best Guest: Jonathan by default
Show Winner: Jonathan
Rory McGrath Award for Not Knowing When to Shut Up: Jonathan Ross.
Best QI Fact: Roald Dahl’s valve.