QI Watchdown: F10 (Flora & Fauna)

Part of the new tradition of keeping some semi-regulars and mixing them with someone who’s never been on the show before, tonight’s QI features Jimmy Carr and Jo Brand, and also features journalist, politician, and failed-ballroom-dancer John Sergeant in a guest appearance. Sounds like a low-profile panel, but let’s see how it turns out.

John Sergeant and Jo Brand look remarkably similar. Just thought i’d throw that out there.

All the buzzers match the theme, of course. John’s is a lion’s roar, which seems to startle him. Jimmy’s is a wolf howl, which he reacts well too, even trying to mimic the wolf. Jo’s is an elephant noise, which Jimmy seems to love. Alan’s is a small dog.

Stephen: “What does my button-hole [containing a flower] tell you about me?”
Jo: “That you’re a closet heterosexual.”

I do like the fact that John is loose and playful with Stephen. After Stephen mentions that the red flower indicates a current period, John flirtatiously goes “so are you saying I can have you or I can’t have you?” He reminds me a lot of Clive Anderson in that way, in a manner very unmatching the way he looks.

Alan: “Menstruate is a weight in boxing. You know, fly-weight, menstruate…”
Jimmy: “It’s the most aggressive of them, too…”

Stephen then asks them to name the opera the book was turned into by saying “and it became the opera, for five points”, and then sticks his head around waiting for an answer. Jimmy goes “is that the answer. ‘For Five Points’, very good…”

Stephen describes this opera, featuring the girl and the seven men who bring in several separate drawers, that became a film. Jimmy adds, “called Snow White. The seven guys with a one girl is a bit…”

Stephen: “And the film based on [the flower book] is…”
Jo: “Carry On Menstruating.”

I love how we’re one question in and all four are having fun. Even John, who I’ll admit is a bit quieter than the others, is even contributing some.

John describes the vacuum cleaners, that they ‘go woof-woof-woof’ and then suck up the fleas. Jimmy, on a roll tonight, goes “I think your vacuum cleaner may be broken, if it’s going woof-woof-woof. I think you might wanna take that one back, get a new one.”

John: “Isn’t the other thing that makes them interesting is that they’ve got two penises…I mean, I don’t want to bring it up so suddenly…”
Stephen: “Nono, we’re always at home to penis news.”

Then everybody starts talking about how both flea penises would ejaculate at the same time, and both Jimmy and Jo go, “yeah, from experience, that wouldn’t really work…” John, deadpan, goes “of course, we’re talking about very tiny penises though

And then Alan, relating this to the fleas that can jump 80 times his height, which, if applied to humans, would allow them to jump over the Eiffel Tower, goes “Can they ejaculate eighty times their own…I mean, if you had your own flea-power, would you be able to cum over the eiffel tower?”
Stephen: “It’d serve those damn Frenchies right, wouldn’t it?”

John is nice because he’s more inclined to give information, but at least he’s very interesting about it, and not pedantic about it (like John Sessions or Rory McGrath). He’s closer to like a Vic Reeves or a Gyles Brandreth, because they have personality there.

They turn on the flea circus clip, and QI turns into Mystery Science Theater, because you here Jo and Alan start riffing. Jo even asks, of the guy with the magnifying glass, ‘why’ve they got a serial killer operating that thing?”

Literally an episode after having Rob Brydon and Ben Miller, two likely clones, on the same panel, Stephen turns to Jo and John and says “you two aren’t related, are you?”

Stephen: “What is the only odd thing about the only fish in the world that lives in a tree?”
Jimmy: “It’s a squirrel.”

Stephen asks why flamingoes stand with one leg only. John gives the right answer (because they want to go to sleep), and as the audience applauds, you can hear Jimmy go “I was gonna say ‘land mines'”. And just then, fascinatingly, the applause turns into full-on laughter.

Stephen, on flamingoes: “They’re really interesting, because they can drink boiling water?”
Jimmy: “How the hell did they find THAT out? Probably a very cruel man found that out. ‘ERE YA GO!'”

Stephen: “D’you know the difference between a frog and a toad?”
Alan: “Spelling!”

Stephen tells this curious story about exploding toads in a factory or something. And he asks, “do you know what the cause of this was?”
Jimmy, without missing a beat, goes “Al. Qaeda.” Alan, adding on, goes “SUICIDE TOADS!”

Stephen: “What’s the worst thing that could happen in a Fairy Ring?”
Jimmy, misconstruing: “Well I’m not…you know there’s a time and place for this sort of thing…and it’s 10:30, Graham Norton show.”

Stephen: “And if it’s a living thing, and it’s neither flora nor fauna…”
Jimmy: (GASP) Leprechaun!”

Jimmy, on the one frog onscreen: “Now hang on there. That frog has gone from being bummed by another male frog to having someone else’s pee injected into him. This frog’s having a horrible day!”

Here’s what I like about John Sergeant. He’s very smart. He’s got this way of connecting the louses from the second bit of the show all the way back to the fleas from the 2nd question, and makes a very good point about animals dying out. He’s not the funniest person on this panel, but what he says is very interesting, and makes sense. I really like his presence on the show, because I feel like I’m learning something…unlike Rory McGrath, who just shouts information and doesn’t even begin to present conclusions.

Stephen: “How does a ferret build an airliner?”
Jo: “Really weasily.” (cracks up)
Jimmy: “If it’s any consolation, I was SECONDS behind you…”

Stephen: “What’s the fastest thing in the natural world?”
Alan, and everybody watching at home: “Blue Whale!”

Stephen reveals the question has to do with sex, and Jimmy is outraged. “Scuse me, the FASTEST THING ON EARTH? Is this a slight at me?? Because I had a very busy week.”

Stephen: “It’s the fastest thing in biology. Nothing moves faster.”
John: “But what about an aircra-oh-”
Stephen: “In biology…”

Stephen: “What do you call a slug with a shell?”
Alan, looking up at his buzzer: “Not falling for that one…”

The audience wins, but the contestant with the highest points is Jimmy Carr, which is actually pretty surprising.  I would not have called that. I would have said John.

Overall: A very nice episode marred by a mid-episode lull. Jimmy, Jo and Alan are all on a roll this episode, and John gives some of the more intriguing observations we’ve had in a while. The dynamic worked, even with John, and there were a bunch of great moments. Not a flawless show, but one worth another watch.

MVP: Jimmy
Best Guest: John
Show Winner: Jimmy
Best QI Fact: The bumming frogs.


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