QI Watchdown: E10 (England)

This has been a weirdly uneven season, though a lot more consistent than the last few. When it’s on, it’s really on, but there have been some off-weeks where the material has slacked, and more lulls have showed up.

Tonight’s episode is promising, as it features two great panelists, and the second (and last) newcomer of the season, one who I’ve vaguely heard of, and could be a nice addition to the dynamic.

Aside from Phill (his last of Series E)  and Sean, there’s Charlie Higson, last mentioned as one of Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie’s house decorators (“Stephen, the fellas in the hall are AWFULLAY FUNNAY!”) He’s a comedy writer, author, former singer, and that’s just from his Wikipedia page. I mean, apparently he’s a friend of Stephen, so it’ll work out nice, I think.

The intros are all great compliments, until Alan, as he’s introduced as ‘somebody from Wales.’, a continuation of the running gag from Europe.

All four of the buzzers are England-themed. Sean’s is ‘Pomp and Circumstance’. Phill’s is ‘God Save the Queen’, which he very quickly remembers to rise for. Charlie’s is (another theme that I don’t know), that brings a tear to everyone’s eye. And Alan’s is just “THE ENGLISH THE ENGLISH THE ENGLISH…”

Stephen Screws With Alan: Part I:
Stephen: “How do you do, Alan?”
Alan: “…fine, thanks?”
KLAXON GOES OFF

And then, after that question, Stephen already goes “ten points off to the foreigner.” It’s looking like he’s gonna keep this whole Wales thing going.

Charlie has a great reaction to the first klaxon. He guesses Lake Windermere is one of the lakes in England’s lake district, confidently, and then deflates once he hears the klaxon. He cries “I’VE ONLY BEEN OUT FOR TWENTY SECONDS!!”

Stephen: “It isn’t called Lake Windermere!”
Charlie: “Yes, it is. It’s CALLED…Lake Windermere.”
Stephen: “Only by people who don’t know what it really should be called.”
Sean: “The moon.”
(That may have been a callback to a Rich episode of the past.)

Alan opens the question up to the audience…and they get it right.

By the way, 5 minutes in and ABSOLUTELY NO SIGN OF PHILL JUPITUS. HAS SOMETHING GONE HORRIBLY WRONG???

It’s occurred to me that Charlie looks like David Mitchell and sounds like Andy Hamilton. Quite the combination.

Alan guesses that the two-fingered salute means “I’ve still got my fingers, and I still can shoot arrows”…which turns out to be wrong. It’s weird. Robert Wuhl said that was what happened.

Phill does bring up a good joke. For the ‘fuck off’ question, there’s a series of people holding up two fingers over colored backgrounds. Phill goes “I always did enjoy Andy Warhol’s Rabbit Period.”

Stephen also mentions that the two fingers could mean, on the head, that “I’m fucking your wife.” Charlie demonstrates it to Sean, and Sean goes, “you know, I’m glad someone is…”

I love whenever Alan and Phill are on the same side of the panel, so whenever there’s a break in the action, Phill and Alan can turn to each other, like chums, and just joke around. I love it when there’s a sign of a friendship like that.

Charlie has a great way of answering the Elephant question. Stephen brings up all these things (moved to Cairo, Paris, garnered fame…), and Charlie says “there’s an elephant in the room.” Stephen, of course, says, why. Charlie goes “because whoever he is, he’s an elephant.”

Sean scoffs at the outcry about Jumbo the elephant, people who’d rather have a dead Jumbo than an imported Jumbo. Sean goes “that’s got to be a difficult march. ‘WHAT DO WE WANT…DEAD JUMBO!”

(By the way, Phill has been exceptionally giggly tonight. He’s just been laughing at a lot of people’s jokes, and not making too many. Odd.)

Stephen, on Jumbo’s death, says he was cradled in the arms of his trainer. Alan then tries to mime exactly what it would look like for a regular sized person to try to cradle a gigantic elephant. It’s a great visual.

Stephen: “Besides the Bible, what was the highest selling book of the 16th century?”
Phill: “The little book of syphillis.”

There’s a conversation about leaning over to cover a fact. Sean says “I did that in an exam once. I farted, and someone thought I was cheating.”

Stephen: “Where is the best place in England to find Nutters?
Charlie: “On one of your documentaries…”

Of course, Alan has the oldest joke in the book:
Alan: ‘We had a Jimmy Glasscock at school.”
Stephen: “Did you?”
Alan: “Yeah. You could always see when he was coming…”

On the ‘bluebirds on the White Cliffs of Dover’ question, Charlie does a nice takeout, making Stephen think he’s gonna say White Cliffs of Dover, but really just saying Lake Windermere.

On hearing that there aren’t any bluebirds in England, Alan goes ‘well, can’t we bring some in?” Phill, always the crafty one, goes “let’s just spray up some robins…”

Stephen, on the swans: “They have penises, like ducks.”
Sean, confused: “THEY HAVE PENISES IN THE SHAPE OF A DUCK???”
Phill: “That’s why swans look so smug. They’ve got the big duck-shaped penis under the water…”

Stephen: “What is the most common cause of death among the swan community?”
Charlie: “The queen.”

Stephen: “What is the Oxford’s History of England all about?”
Sean: “England.”
KLAXON
Stephen: “You’d think it would be, but, no.”
Sean: “France.”
KLAXON

Stephen: ‘Where does England get its name.”
Charlie, exasperated, expecting a klaxon: “Oh, alright, the Engles.”
Stephen: “…yes.”
I love how the episode started with Charlie getting an obvious answer wrong, and ended with him getting an obvious answer right. Full circle, really.

Phill technically wins, but since everybody is below the negatives, the audience gets the actual victory, which is pretty funny.

Overall: A solid episode, with some nice moments, a a very nice debut by Charlie. Sean and Phill sort of stayed to the background, and the dynamic sort of suffered, but it was still a good enough episode, just not as good as it could have been. Definitely not without merit, like Charlie’s run of obviously wrong answers, Alan’s Glasscock joke, and a few great Sean moments.

MVP: Alan
Best Guest: Sean
Show Winner: Phill
Best QI Fact: A Bum Gang!

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