QI Watchdown: 12 (Illumination)

A few lasts here, as this is Jack Dee’s last QI appearance, and Rich Hall’s last appearance until much later, which is sad, because we’re gonna lose two of QI’s resident grumps, but on the plus side…we still have Chris Addison for a little while. I know people don’t seem to like him, especially on Mock the Week, but he’s an amazingly funny fellow who’s won several emmys for directing Veep, and even if he’s mostly gonna be playing the defensive tonight, he’ll definitely be a good presence against said grumps.

The buzzers are cool tonight. Jack’s is a lightsaber noise, which he uncharacteristically gets a kick out of, and mimes wielding. Rich’s is a loud clang/thunder clap, which he shrugs off.

The show-long runner involves a set of symbol cards, which the panelists have to decipher. Alan, of course, has the right idea.
Screen Shot 2017-09-28 at 5.05.33 PM.png

Alan: “THAT’s Lady Gaga…”

Also, as Stephen explains the Nobody Knows card, and Chris and Alan hold theirs up, the NOBODY KNOWS sound effect blares in, giving Alan a nice heart attack there.

Stephen’s going on about the invention of lamps and bulbs.
Rich: ‘Well, what did moths do before then?”
Stephen: “I mean…how come moths don’t come out during the day if they’re so fond of the bluddy light…”

Chris: “You know, Edison electrocuted an elephant- this is one of my favorite facts of all time-”
Alan: “I think you know this because you saw it on QI…”
[or Bob’s Burgers…]
Chris: “Yeah, the problem with joining you people so late is that you’ve already covered basically all of human knowledge…”
Alan: “I’m listening to the story going ‘…now this rings a bell…'”

On the people that turned on the lights in Blackpool, including Jayne Mansfield, Michael Ball, and Dale Winton
Rich: “Ohhh, they should have electrocuted him…”

Stephen, going on: “But it cost them 50,000 pounds worth of ele-”
Alan, misreading: “TO GET DALE WINTON??”

Chris: “Pancho Villa actually took his name from his grandfather, which is one of the best names I’ve ever heard-”
Rich: “Aston.”
Chris, getting it: “…Aston Villa? No, it was Jesus. Jesus Villa, which just sounds like the Pope’s summer home…”

Stephen says that Pancho Villa’s war was staged by the American film business. For more information, watch the 2003 HBO film ‘And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself’. No, seriously. It’s got Antonio Banderas in it.

Chris Addison’s tactic, which is a lot more visible now that Dara’s not with him, is very information based, with a ‘this is what I know about the topic’, but not in the Sessions way of being pedantic.

There’s an even better conversation on what Pancho Villa’s last words were, as he was killed while in his car.
Jack: “It may have just been ‘reverse’.
Rich: “or ‘CUT!'”

Rich: “I think the number one rule of war photographers is ‘always run towards the shot when everyone else is running from it’…which, I think, weeds a lot of people out right away…I’m gonna shoot WEDDINGS.”
Dear god, I missed him..

On the ‘transparent coat’ subject, Stephen and Alan bring up the invisible Ford Anglia from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, as well as some Romulan technology. Lots of very geeky moments, especially considering the lightsaber moment with Jack.

AND THEN, Stephen mentions Jim Lovell, and Rich is very quick with ‘oh, the Apollo 13 guy…’. Man, the references are just FLYING today. Add that to just some really cool stuff i’m not writing all of down, and this is a pretty cool one so far.

I’m very disappointed, because Chris brings up that his main subject is the moon, and I was expecting Rich to pipe in and go ‘WHICH MOON ARE WE TALKING ABOUT STEPHEN?’ I mean, we just had one earlier this season, so it could be worse.

Stephen: “Tell me something interesting about the original geishas.”
….
Jack: “They’re all men.”
Stephen: ‘YES!”
Jack: “…oh god…”

I’ve noticed that this season there’s been at least one instance per episode of introducing a visual, or tactile, aid for the panelists to expand upon a subject with. In talking about the hydro-gel beads, there’s a bowl of water with a bunch of them in front of each pairing, and they’re allowed to explore. This is slowly working toward the weekly prop-segment Stephen will institute next series, but it’s still loose enough to give good moments.

Jack, on the hydro-gel: “Might have a play around with that later…”
Stephen tries to move on, but can’t, as the whole place erupts, as Jack cheekily looks around.
Alan: “Jack’s gonna put his willy in it!”
Jack: “I’ve already put it in that one…”
Alan: “…it’s weird, because when he put it in, you couldn’t see it…”

Stephen: “Why can’t blindfolded people walk in a straight line?”
Alan: “Can’t see where they’re going…..NNNNNEXT QUESTION!”

I love how in the midst of being grumpy and pervy, Jack Dee manages to have a brilliant point about why people can’t walk in a straight line while blindfolded. Again, beneath the character’s exterior is a legitimately smart person.

And now, one of the greatest klaxons in the show’s history. Stephen commands the panel, the viewing audience, and everyone watching, to close their eyes and point to where they think is Northeast.
And then everyone in the room, INCLUDING ME AT HOME, gets a klaxon for going the wrong way.

Alan: “NO, I’M NOT POINTING!”
Stephen: “You were pointing down for some reason.”
Alan: “Nonsense, I was just stretching me leg…”

Stephen: “Closest was Chris, I think.”
Jack, after Chris’ huge day: “You’re not gonna tell me Chris gets points for THAT as well…”

Stephen: “What use, to a pilot, is a Morning Glory?”
Alan, already seeing this the wrong way: ‘AAAH…”
Chris: “Well, when your joystick fails…”

Screen Shot 2017-09-28 at 11.12.11 PM.pngThe audience reacts even more now that THIS is on the behind-screen.
Alan: “I think it’s the co-pilot’s joystick as well…”
Chris: “That’s why they always sound so relaxed! ‘Morning ladies and gentlemen….mmmmmmm….”

Stephen: “What can you tell me about an Indian Granny Cloud?”
Alan: “…is it a fart, in a restaurant…”
Jack: “Or do they go up in the sky and they can’t remember what they went up for?”

Stephen: “Name the largest black body in the solar system.”
Rich: “Oprah Winfrey”
HUGE audience reaction.

Stephen: “How long does light from the center of the sun take to reach the earth?”
Alan: “Now……….I know this….it might not be in the center because that’s a trick, but light from the sun takes 8 minutes.”
Stephen: “…..mmmmmmmm”
KLAXON

Stephen: “How many earths would you be able to fit in the sun?”
Alan: “Four. EASILY,”

Overall: Light and fun, if uneven. The fact of the matter is you had three people playing very separate games, to varying degrees of success. Nobody really came together on anything. I mean, it was a funny show, had some good moments, but the collaborative force (that will likely be very present next show with Phill, David and Jo) was gone. Jack had his best show in his last show, Chris had some great lines, and Rich, in his last show for years, was quieter than he’s even been.

MVP: Jack
Best Guest: Chris
Show Winner: Rich
Best QI Fact: hydro-gel
Best Runner: blindfolded walking in a straight line.

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QI Watchdown: I11 (Infantile), or ‘Laugh and Lie Down’

One of the many episodes this series where we have two final appearances of occasional panelists in one show. Tonight is the last time we’ll be seeing Dave “the bearded Starsky and Hutch fan” Gorman, and Lee “CEILING!” Mack on QI. The former hasn’t done enough on QI to garner the reaction, but the latter has DOMINATED every single one of his episodes, and will be missed.

Tonight’s show also features Ronni Ancona, who’s very funny below-the-radar, but gets hate from youtubers just for talking.

On the then-pope Benedict, or Ratzinger, they showed a picture of him in his youth.
Stephen: “There he is on the right, with those eyes-”
Lee: “Some would say the ‘far right’..”

On guessing singles ad abbreviations, Stephen suggests ‘we’
Dave: “Week ends?”
Stephen: “A bit more graphic than that, I’m afraid-”
Dave: “Well-endowned?”
Stephen: “YES!”
Ronni, of course, is outraged.
Alan: “You could just put that, couldn’t you? Put ‘well-endowned’, and then the box number.”

Stephen suggests ‘ALAWP’, and that it’s similar to WE’
Alan: “A large…and wavy penis…”
Stephen: “All letters answered with…”
Alan, still not getting it: “…a penis.”

Dave, after getting a few of these: “I’m not sure if this is gonna help me or not, but some of these acronyms are shared by the world of pornography..”

And then, with BBW, Alan guesses ‘big blue whale’.

Stephen: “If you had yellow in your back left pocket, it meant that you like being, er, peed on…”
Lee, already smirking: “And what does it mean if you wear a big yellow thing ’round your neck, hanging down?”
Screen Shot 2017-09-25 at 11.28.31 PM.pngScreen Shot 2017-09-25 at 11.28.57 PM.png

Stephen: “What did the king of India’s daughter enjoy doing with Flippity-Flop and Jump-kins?”
Dave, channeling Danny Baker: “If they’re not rabbits…then something’s amiss…”

Stephen: “This game also goes by a more contemporary name-”
Alan and Dave, simultaneously: “TIDDLYWINKS!”
They turn to each other, shocked, laughing

Dave gives a few terms to prove how proficient he is in Tiddlywinks.
Lee: “I can see why you’re using those lonely-hearts columns, there…”

Also, Stephen introduces rings the players can throw at hooks on center stage, like the old carnival game.
Ronni, brushing off her ring: “I’ve just got a bit of dirt in my pocket…”
Lee, taking this the wrong way: “Then, let’s hear it…”

Ronni, as Lee’s squaring up: “Oh, HE’LL be unbearable…”
Stephen: “It’s alright, he’s already unbearable…”

Stephen asks the panelists to explain several boxed pub games, one of which is ‘laugh and lie down’
Lee: “Laugh and lie down- THAT is a box of rohypnol.”

Stephen explains that, well, NOBODY KNOWS, because all three games were banned, and nobody really knows how to play them, just that they exist.
Lee: “I love the idea of a barman just going…”HEY, ARE YOU PLAYIN’ MILKING CROMMOCK- ‘No.’…”
Alan:

Screen Shot 2017-09-25 at 11.47.44 PM.png

I laughed for 30 seconds at this one

Lee: “Two blokes doing that, probably one cow going ‘…muuurrrr…”

Stephen: “Competitive SMOKING was also very popular-”
Lee: “OH, COME ON…”
Screen Shot 2017-09-25 at 11.49.57 PM.png

Ronni: “That’s a bit smug…”
Lee: “Well, he’s the champion…”

Stephen: “What was the longest running attraction at Coney Island?”
Alan: “Was it an elephant?”
Dave: “Bearded woman, perhaps?”
Lee, the logical answer: “Was it a bearded elephant?”

Stephen: “There was one particular woman who came to see this every week for 37 years-”
Lee: “Cliff Richard!”
Stephen, after breaking: “…he was not what you’d call usual entertainment-”
Lee: “Ah. Cliff Richard!”

Alan Davies gets the award for the darkest joke of the night:
Stephen explains the top attraction at Coney Island were Human Incubators, prematurely-birthed children that would sit in incubators, and people would pay 25 cents to see them.
Alan, confusing the machines with skill cranes: “was there a grabbing hand…?”
Stephen, after the audience laughter subsides: “You are an evil man.”
Dave: “It’s an Angelina Jolie pick’n’mix…”

Stephen reveals that Eleanor Roosevelt kept her baby in a cage out the window.
Ronni, with her one funny line of the show: “Is this the question that Michael Jackson couldn’t answer…”

Stephen also says that Eleanor Roosevelt’s maiden name…was Roosevelt.
Lee: “D’you think she actually changed her name? Because if not, you’ve not officially got the same name. I mean, you’ve GOT the same name, but it’s not the same as registering it….d’you know what I mean?”
Stephen: “I sort of…”
Lee: “The reason I ask ‘dyou know what I mean’, is because I’m not sure I do.”
Dave: Screen Shot 2017-09-26 at 12.04.36 AM.png

Stephen, on the doctor who invented the epidural: “He injected his assistant’s lower spine with cocaine…”
Lee: “She fell over, said it worked.”
Alan: “They played ‘laugh and lie down…”
Lee: “Could have been worse, they could have played ‘milking cradock…”

Stephen: “How can you tell the difference between a french baby and a german baby?”
Lee: “It’s not often you can do the same joke twice in one show, but is the German baby on the far right?’

There’s a brief lull in the tail end before GI, but Alan saves this episode from falling into the depths by doing an impression of a goat falling down a dam.

Stephen: “Where did marsupials come from?”
Lee: “…Marsupia.”
Stephen: “…it could have easily been the right answer…”

Overall: A mild episode with some really funny moments toward the middle. This episode found its groove rather quickly- Dave supplied the information, Ronni provided setups to jokes, Lee provided punchlines to jokes, and Alan helped them collaborate. Lee, as usual, had the best night, as his humor really seems to compliment the program, and it’s sad he won’t be returning for more. Dave Gorman had a great show, as he was definitely enjoying himself, and supplying a ton of good information. Ronni…has lost her way.

MVP: Lee
Best Guest: Lee
Show Winner: Dave
Best QI Fact: Incubator Babies on Coney Island
Best Runner: Laugh and Lie Down

QI Watchdown: I10 (Inland Revenue) or Thought Crime for Alan Davies

Another Sandi episode (feels like there’s been, like, 20 of them recently), but, on the plus side, we have two bald guys to counteract her. One has been here a billion times before, and it’s Dara O’Briain. The other is a SPECIAL GUEST STAR, in award-winning comedian and part-time-pub-landlord, Al Murray. All of tonight’s guests have been on Mock the Week, at least in the first 2 series. So this could be a nice one.

I got a kick out of the i-related intros Stephen does for every one, like the ‘eye-catching’ Sandi or the ‘eye-watering’ Al…and then the ‘I-RISH’ Dara O’Briain, which he gets a kick out of.

All the buzzers are I-related. Al’s is an amusing animal noise that even he doesn’t know what to think of.

Al mentions that he took tax advice from Harry Hill. This begs the question- do all bald funny british people know each other?

Sandi talks of a tax inspector who spent several days going through all the boring details, and at the end, when they hadn’t found anything, he’d gone ‘to be honest, Miss Toksvig, I just wanted to meet you’.

The first bit is about the transgender community of tax inspectors in Pakistan that are sent to embarrass people who don’t pay taxes by dancing in their shops until they do. Not a ton of very PC responses here, though Dara brings up a good point of ‘there’s only so many transgender people in Pakistan…they have to be very busy, they’re belting out ‘I am what I am’ in shops every day…”

Sandi, on the ways of annoying tax-avoiders: “What do we do here, then? Morris dancing outside people’s shops?”

I like that so far, Al is playing the game, going for the questions, as a guest star would, and focusing less on cracking jokes. With Dara here, I feel like there’s already the ‘bald funny guy’ quota checked off.

Sandi: “I once bought a racehorse by mistake…”
Dara: “What had you originally gone into the shop for?”
Sandi: “…I was there as a tax inspector…”
Dara: “You wanted a pint of Activia pouring yogurt, and you got a racehorse..”
Sandi: “…oh you HEARD about my little problem I had…”

Screen Shot 2017-09-19 at 4.25.58 PM.pngSandi: “That house would make a great Advents calendar…”
Alan: “Yeah, there’d have to be a HUGE chocolate behind it…”

Alan, on the narrow houses of Norway: “It’d be nice to have the stairs in a spiral,  but there should be a pole down.”
Stephen: “Have you even been down a fireman’s pole?”
Al, seeing the double-entendre: “…no, I haven’t..”
Stephen: “You really TRIED to keep a straight face…”

Stephen, on fireman’s poles: “It’s horribly squeaky, as well. They should be oiled.”
[A moment of laughter]
Al: “Well oil’s FLAMMABLE…you can’t turn up at a FIRE covered in oil…”

Stephen, still on fireman protocol: “Two machines a breast is usual, and-”
Alan: “Sorry, I just thought of breasts. Like ‘two machines?'”
Stephen: “TWO MACHINES PER BREAST?”
Sandi: “It was an odd moment, Alan, but I was with you…”

Stephen asks for the highest-paid sportsman of all time, and behind-screen shows pictures of Tiger Woods, David Beckham and (I believe) Rafael Nadal.
Sandi: “I assume it’s not one of those…”
Alan: “I was gonna SAY one of those…I was gonna say the one on the left.”
Stephen: “Were you? Well, not the best LAID-”
KLAXON
Alan, since he didn’t actually say Tiger Woods, looks around, betrayed, going ‘THIS IS RIDICULOUS!’
Dara: “THOUGHT CRIME! THOUGHT CRIME FOR ALAN DAVIES!”

Alan: “Is it true that people were killed in the filming of Ben Hur?”
Stephen: “Yes, in the silent film, the original-”
Sandi: “But you couldn’t hear them…”
Alan: “A card comes up: “AAAAAHHHHH”
[i laughed harder than I should have at this]

Stephen: “Who had to return to their birthplace for the census?”
Sandi: “….this is going to be one of those things where we say ‘Joseph and Mary’…and it isn’t Joseph and Mary because that isn’t what you wa-”
KLAXON
Sandi: “Yeah, it isn’t that at all, because-“Z
Al: “Tiger Woods?”

Stephen mentions the biblical prophecy mentions “the stem of Jesse. Does anyone know what that is?”
Sandi: “…there’s so many answers, I don’t even know where to begin…what time is this broadcast?”
[Second show in a row where someone asks THAT…]

Stephen spills a portion of rejected bible scripture, about an infant Jesus standing up and defeating a dragon.
Stephen: “Wouldn’t you have paid more attention in Sunday school if that had been in there?”
Al: “And you’re reading that in your Harry Potter voice as well…”

Stephen: “Now, what did the 2001 census reveal as the 4th largest religion in Britain?”
Alan: “…this is gonna go off, but I’m gonna say Jedi…”
Stephen: “OHHHHHHHH”
KLAXON

I will say that there haven’t been this many klaxons in a show since the early series, and this is feeling a ton like a Late-series-A show, in the best way possible. The panel is balanced, everybody’s making jokes, the guest star is focused on playing the game.

Stephen mentions a moment from last series (Horrible), where Dara mentioned that ‘surely, fish don’t have tongues’, and Stephen brushed him off.
Dara: “No, you stood over me, I remember vividly, with a cane, and you BEAT ME, saying ‘YOU ARE HERE AT MY MERCY!”

After Dara is given points, as fish actually don’t have tongues.
Sandi: “i’m sorry, is he gonna get points for something…and we weren’t even THERE?”
Al: “I know LOADS of stuff I haven’t said…”

Stephen, to Sandi: “Don’t feel bad. You may get points in…two years’ time.”
Dara: “Someday, when you least expect it, you’ll be sitting, having coffee, and Stephen Fry will appear and go ‘…some points.”

Stephen: “But what is this fake-tongue actually for?”
Al: “…FOOLING…Dara O’Briain.”

This questions ends up being a Nobody Knows question, which nobody gets.
Sandi: “If I do it now, will I get points in 3 years?”

On the Dollar Bill’s ‘all-seeing-eye’, Dara: “…so, a COMMITTEE decided on that? That’d be remarkable whether you get it past a committee.”
Alan: “So we’re all agreed! Floating eye on top of the pyramid!”
Dara: “Yeah, a freaky, disembodied eye. We all like that? ‘YEAH, SOUNDS LIKE A GREAT IDEA!'”
Alan: “I STILL WANT THE COCK-AND-BALLS!”

Stephen offers points if the panelists can name english words derived from the native Mexican language pre-European invasion
Sandi: “Chocolate?”
Stephen: “Yes, that’s one.”
Sandi: “….I’ve run out.”
Alan: “Burrito?”

After Dara gets a point for ‘tequila’ even if it was process of elimination.
Al: “That’s not knowledge, that’s a crapshoot!”
Stephen: “…welcome to QI…”

Stephen: “What did Prince Albert invent?”
Alan: “Ohhhh, cock ring.”
Stephen: “OHHHHHHH”
KLAXON
Alan’s buzzer: “AYAYAYAYAYAY-”
Alan: “….the combover.”

Stephen: “What noise does a mute swan make? And you’re allowed to do an impression if you’d like.”
Sandi, gruff-cockney voice: “…ALLO.”
Alan: “…I can break yer arm!”
Al: *mimes talking with nothing coming out*
KLAXON

Overall: A surprisingly fun show, made possible by a tone that brought us back to the earlier, spryer eras of the show, as well as deconstructing what made the show great. Alan and Al were great suppliers of klaxons, and Sandi and Dara were great suppliers of jokes, with an emphasis on Sandi’s work, as she did a pretty nice job of keeping things funny and not boring people to tears.

MVP: Sandi
Best Guest: Dara
Show Winner: Sandi
Best QI Fact: Prime Minister and AA
Best Runner: Dara’s leftover points.

QI Watchdown: I9 (Illness), or The Michael Winner Joke Hour

QI this season had started a trend of booking two panelists with very similar interests or comedy styles, and a third that contradicts the first two. For instance, having Sandi and Clive, two very cultured comics, and then throwing in Henning Wehn, a quieter, more broad German humorist; or perhaps having Sean Lock and Frank Skinner, two picky, annoyed comedians who go for the jugular, and the meeker-by-comparison John Bishop.

Tonight, we feature Andy Hamilton and Jo Brand, two short people with wry senses of humor that have been known to either make or break huge panels…and then a newcomer, Dr. Ben Goldacre, an acclaimed science writer, essentially the Brian Cox of the medical and pharmaceutical world. This will be interesting.

Thanks to the theme, they’re all in doctor’s outfits. Which is a nice gimmick.

The buzzers are a nice 3 vs. 1 throwback: Jo, Andy and Ben have sounds heard in a doctor’s office, like sneezing and coughing. Alan’s is the somber death march.

The show starts with Stephen giving the panelists a questionnaire on their sleep cycles. Jo responds by falling asleep on the desk.

Stephen: “There’s a theory that only men are prone to napping. Jo, do you ever nap during the day?”
Jo: “Only during sex.”
Alan: “Is that…doing sex or watching sex?”
Jo: “…either. I don’t mind.”

Stephen, on using antimony as a constipation aid.
Stephen: “Once it had passed through, you would then…rummage through your leavings…and wash it, and use it again.”
Alan: “RUMMAGE THROUGH YOUR LEAVINGS?”
Stephen: “Wasn’t quite sure how to put it…”
Alan: “I’m gonna use that from now on…”

Stephen: “And these things would get handed from father to son, through generations…”
Alan: “My father’s leavings, and his father’s leavings as well…”
Andy: “THAT is the earlier example of a repeat perscription…”

This is just an observation, but Ben Goldacre looks like how Milton Jones looked before the explosion.

After Ben has another anecdote about John Harvey Kellogg and his anal-yogurt methods.
Andy, curiously: “What time’s this show going out?”

Andy grabs an early Nobody Knows card by saying that no one really knows how Placebos work. To be honest, neither does Brian Molko.

Stephen says that ‘studies show’ isn’t a very logical way of believing someone, and that Ben will want to know the specifics of the study.
Ben: “…to be fair, I think that this show is actually more guilty of that than anyone else-”
Stephen, trying to shoosh him: “MUUHHHRLXGJDFGLJ”

Stephen mentions that there’s a lot of vomiting in space, in zero-gravity.
Alan: “What, drifting around the cabin?”
And then Alan mimes eating a bit of floating vomit. So far, this has been a very highbrow show…

Stephen: “D’you know what causes seasickness, though?”
Jo, rolling her eyes: “Is it going up and down on the sea?”

Screen Shot 2017-09-12 at 6.00.22 PM.pngStephen: “Oh, that must be from the film of A Perfect Storm.”
Alan: “Oh, it HAS to be from a film. I can’t imagine that to be an exceptionally good photograph taken from another boat..”

A great deal of Jo Brand’s jokes tonight have to do with Michael Winner, which means either she ran out of ‘my husband’ jokes, or her ghost-writer is Ian Hislop from 1995.

Stephen: “You’ve really got it in for the Winster, haven’t you?”
Jo: “I have.”
Andy: “Is this because he hasn’t been returning your calls, Jo? Is that what it is?”

Andy, after another Winner joke: “I’ve got this fantasy of Michael Winner sat at home going ‘It’s Friday…what shall I do? I know, I’ll watch QI. Jo Brand’s on. She’s my favorite!”

Screen Shot 2017-09-12 at 6.07.18 PM.pngStephen, ever one to keep a joke going: “…who the hell is THAT?”
Alan: “I don’t know, but that’s what the girl’s thinking as well…”
Stephen: “They’re all thinking ‘I WOULD’, aren’t they?”

Interestingly, Ben says that the latest DSM is coming out in 2013. Not a ton of psychologists seem to like that one, especially in terms of how it refers to autism.

Stephen, having the panelists guess a potential DSM-IV term: “Sluggish cognitive tempo disorder.”
Andy: “CAN’T DANCE.”
Stephen: “…guilty feet have got no rhythm..”

The good part about this episode is that Stephen can turn to Ben whenever he needs an expert opinion on a topic, or a question, and he’s…really nice. Unlike, say, Brian Cox, he doesn’t always join in and joke with the panelists, but he’s still making this a very educational episode.

Ben, while on a topic, says: “it was about saying ‘desire is a matter of…clitoral bloodflow imaging, and…nitric oxide molecules in your body-”
Alan: “I think that might have been the most disgusting thing I’ve ever heard. Clitoral bloodflow imaging?”
Stephen: “….DOT COM?”

Stephen: “Who was the last british monarch to be deliberately killed?”
Jo: “Was it one of the ones who got beheaded?”
Stephen: “Uhhhhhhh…no. You’ve managed to avoid saying Charles the 1st, whom most people think-”
Jo: “Yeah, only because I couldn’t blood remember which one it was…”

On the doctor that gave King George V a lethal injection, Stephen, reading from the doctor’s diary, goes: “I did it myself, because it became obvious that Sister Bea, the king’s nurse, was DISTURBED by the procedure…”
Alan: “SO I INJECTED SISTER BEA AS WELL…”
And I’m gone.

Stephen: ‘What would you call a man who eats literally everything?”
Jo: “Winner!”
KLAXON: MICHAEL WINNER.

Stephen: “He eventually proceeded to drink the blood of patients and eat some of the corpses in the morgue…”
Jo: “You know who’s like that, don’t you?”
Laughter.
Jo: “I don’t even need to say it anymore, do I?”

It’s a nice detail that Jo puts, in the name column on her sleep survey, ‘JO MARLON BRANDO’

Stephen, reading over Andy’s: “Your total, which you haven’t bothered to do, and thank you so much for that-”
Andy: “I got too TIRED!”

Stephen, top of GI: “Why shouldn’t you sleep with a dog?”
Andy, channeling Sean Lock: “He won’t respect you in the morning, will he?”

There’s a runner in GI with Stephen, going back to an earlier bit about the preposterousness of said statement, ending every fact with ‘and above all, be sure to avoid fatty and spicy foods.’ And he just keeps going with it!

It’s funny- when Andy is announced as 1st place, you can hear a disappointed Jo go ‘ohhh’ in the background. She, as well as I, was hoping Stephen would go ‘TONIGHT’S WINNER!’, so Jo could make one more Michael Winner joke.

Overall: I might even say this was better than the last episode thanks to the Michael Winner runner, the fatty and spicy foods runner, and a bit more teamwork and equality than, ironically, the episode about Inequality. Still, I’d call this one an ‘alright’ show was well, because it never really broke out of ‘good’, and there weren’t any HUGE moments, even if there was an Alan line that I loved, or some good moments from Andy. Jo had the best show, by not sticking to her laurels and having a nice time, though Andy should be commended as well. Ben had a nice showing, but wasn’t as inclusive as Brian Cox.

MVP: Jo
Best Guest: Andy
Show Winner: Andy
Best QI Fact: recycled antimony
Best Runner: Michael Winner.

QI Watchdown: I8 (Inequality), or How About Some Marrowing?

From an episode literally about smashing ewoks into a lake of farts to a more cultured, sophisticated QI, featuring Clive Anderson and Sandi Toksvig, a pairing made famous when one was calling the other short, and the other was calling the first one bald. And in the other corner, we have German comedian Henning Wehn. This should definitely be different from E7.

Stephen: “Now, tonight’s show is about inattention…and ineptitude. Alan, what is tonight’s show about?”
Alan, caught off-guard: “…inattention and ineptitude.”
KLAXON. RIGHT OFF THE BAT.

Stephen announces that this show will be about unfairness, so something will be fair…so he starts the show by announcing that Sandi has won with 54.

I love that Henning’s buzzer is a high-pitched ‘DON’T MENTION ZE VAAAR’. I’m half expecting Sean Lock to pop out and start miming machine gun fire.

Right off the bat, Sandi gets a klaxon by saying that a statue, marked as ‘the puritan’, is of…a puritan.
Alan: “THAT is unfair..”

Stephen reassures Sandi that “It doesn’t matter, because you’ve already won.”
Sandi: “You know, I’m quite relaxed about the whole show…”

With Henning’s first line, I already like him: “Puritans, they regarded luxury as sinful, didn’t they? So some of them set off for America, and the others opened B&Bs in Britain.”

Screen Shot 2017-09-12 at 12.36.38 AM.pngAlan: “In this painting, did that Native there…did he bring that tree, to hide behind?”

Stephen says that a man in 1600s Connecticut was put to death for ‘lying with a beast’, or in this case a local pig.
Clive, putting it together: “He laid with a pig…”
Sandi: “Did George have his end away with a piece of pork?”
Clive: “No, he fancied a bit of crackling, that’s all…”

Stephen says the pig was brought on trial, and both the pig and George were executed.
Sandi: “Did the pig just shyly look at George in a kind of…’I remember that night’ way?”
Alan: “The pig came in and said ‘THAT BASTARD! HE NEVER *RANG*…HE JUST *USED* ME!”

Sandi: “Did you know that in Alabama, it is illegal to wear a fake mustache in church THAT CAUSES LAUGHTER.”
Clive, who is KILLING IT tonight: “they nabbed Groucho Marx on that one…”

(By the way, we’re 11 minutes in, and Henning’s said one thing. Quiet fellow, but funny when he does talk.)

Alan talks of a radio interview with an actress who’d been playing Lara Croft (after Jolie…and before Vikander?)
Alan: “Cut a long story short, they airbrushed her nipples out of the poster. Her nipples were showing through her costume…”
Clive: “But this was RADIO…”

Sandi tells an anecdote about doing a sitcom with ‘the lovely Mike McShane’. With Sandi and Clive in the same room. Man, this reminds me of a watchdown I should be doing fairly soon…

Sandi: “Mike was playing a sort of sex expert, and we were figuring out what would be in his apartment, and he would have a coat rack made entirely of penises. And this went to the Channel 4 lawyers, who said ‘yes, well you can have the penises, just as long as they’re not erect.’, and I said ‘…well, how will it work as a coat-rack, then…”
The panel spends about 15 seconds laughing at this, as Stephen tries to demonstrate how to hang a coat on a bunch of flaccid penises.
Sandi, after the laughter subsides: “…not my specialist area, but nevertheless…”

Stephen, in talking of the prince of Wales, reminds the audience that it’s only a recent development that child abuse has become frowned upon, and that it’s now illegal.
Sandi: “IT IS??? [cringes] Just on the way here, a small urchin annoyed me…”

Stephen has a snafu about Sarah Ferguson: “As that would the day that she would be marrowing- sorry, marrying…or, MARROWING Prince Andrew.”
Alan: “She loved marrowing Prince Andrew”
Sandi: “I think marrowing is illegal now.”
Clive: “Now, that’s a great phrase. ‘Well, then, how about some marrowing!”

Sandi, summing up the show so far: “D’you know…this is the most fun a Danish person has had with a German since 1945…”
Henning, pressing his buzzer: “DON’T MENTION ZE VAAAR!’

Henning has a very nice rant about how British people are so entitled about a war that they were too young to fight in, and you can tell he’s very passionate and very enthusiastic, but he’s not finding a ton to relate to in terms of the questions tonight.

Stephen talks of the train companies’ strategy of making the people on the third class cars look dirty so people would pay for 1st class.
Clive: “DON’T SAY THIS OUT LOUD…because i’m sure Ryanair will have an idea…”

Stephen explains how weird it is to here a German talking about cricketer terms, such as a ‘Yorker’.
Henning: “What’s a googly, then?”
Stephen, knowing what’s coming, cracks up: “A googly is, uh…”
KLAXON.

Sandi talks of a cricket game on St. Helena, “and they were playing on a pitch which was by a cliff edge, and the gentleman ran back to catch the ball…and DID catch it, and then fell unfortunately. It was put down as “caught [dead]”

Stephen talks of Oakland Raiders defender Lester Hayes, who covered his hands in ‘Stick-Em’. As the son of a Raiders fan, I’ve heard this one a few times before.

ANNNND THEN, Stephen talks of 3-foot-5-inch pinch hitter Eddie Gaedel of the St. Louis Browns, another one I’ve heard about.

Henning, after his ‘DON’T MENTION ZE VAAAAR’ buzzer sounds: “…ah, I forgot about dat…”
Clive: “We haven’t…”

On why the lepers were given bells:
Stephen: “It was to attract people, to give them arms…No, NOT ‘GIVE THEM ARMS’ IN THAT SENSE…”

Stephen: “I mean, most of us are unlikely to catch leprosy even if…even if we LICK a leper..”
Sandi: “Now THERE’S a game show…”
Clive: “Why do I see Noel Edmunds presenting that?”

Overall: A merely alright show, though, as it’s Series I, better than most merely alright QIs that have been. My main gripe is that the panelists weren’t exactly unified. Sandi would tell her various interesting stories, Alan would make cracks about the behind-screen paintings, and Henning would occasionally say something relevant and funny. The only person who truly worked on connecting and making jokes was Clive Anderson, and sadly this is one of Clive’s last QIs. I always enjoyed how different Clive was here than he was as the strict, stoic disciplinarian on Whose Line.

MVP: Clive
Best Guest: Sandi
Show Winner: Sandi
Best QI Fact: The dirty third class
Best Runner: mentioning ze war.

QI Watchdown: I7 (Incomprehensible), or When you say ‘Tossing Ewoks into a lake of farts’..

I feel like most of QI has been building to this episode.

Back in Series G, there was an episode where QI’s embodiment of ridiculous humor, Johnny Vegas, went toe-to-toe with QI’s then-supplier of interesting information, Rob Brydon, and the two ideologies clashed as the episode went on, while David Mitchell just sort of watched.

Tonight, Ross Noble, one of the most ridiculously funny people QI has ever had on, will be playing with Professor Brian Cox, one of the smartest men in the UK, one of the most charismatic informational presenters, and a guy who made Dara O’Briain look like the stupid one (which harkens back to Chris Addison’s Dara impression-‘So, WHAT YOU’RE SAYING, PROFESSOR COX, IS THAT IN A PARALLEL UNIVERSE, THERE IS A ME, WITH HAAAAAAIR”That’s right, Dara…’)

And then, on the other end, you have Sue Perkins there to watch.

The buzzers are funny tonight. Sue’s is a child’s voice saying ‘WHO DID IT, DADA?’ (which she says is ‘a million types of wrong, there’). Ross’s is a bunch of telephone sped up voices, which he unsuccessfully tries to imitate.
Alan’s is just a ton of Alan voices all played at once.
Brian: “…was that your internal dialogue?”
Alan: “I think so!”

Brian, on the rodent noise question, vouches for the animal language person: “my director on one of my documentaries got a phD from Oxford, studying frog communication.”
Stephen: “…he was a professor of French.”

Brian: “We sat out there in the Outback, and he was able to discern three words.”
Sue: “Was one of them ‘ribbit’?.”

Ross: ‘[the prairie dog’s] got that fact because he’s got Philip Scofield’s hand up his bum…”
Stephen: “Ohhh, THAT takes me back…”
The audience, of course, takes this the exact wrong way-
Stephen: “No, WHEN I SAY THAT TAKES ME BACK…”

Stephen explains that prairie dogs are able to distinguish height and color, but not gender.
Ross: “Apparently, if a transvestite in a tartan approaches, they explode…”

Stephen asks what the Pope’s librarian initially thought of Saturn’s rings, and Brian mentions that Galileo jokingly thought that the planet had ears.
Stephen: “No, I’m not talking about something SENSIBLE, I’m talking about the librarian for the POPE…”

And then…this bit:
Stephen: “He genuinely believed that after Christ’s ascension to Heaven…the rings of Saturn…were where he put his foreskin…”
Brian: “FIFTY THOUSAND MILES ACROSS! IMAGINE THE SIZE…”
Stephen: “They weren’t aware of that-”
Sue: “Gee, I need a place to hang this massive foreskin on…”

Brian, after hearing of said librarian’s dissertation: “This is how to interest teenagers in astronomy…”

(There’s a pretty stinging Mock the Week swipe that Alan has, but…I’m gonna let that slide, seeing as I rather enjoy that program…or at least Series’ 1-15 of it…)

Brian becomes the first NON-ALAN person to get the ‘Nobody Knows’ bonus, for saying that nobody really knows how the rings of saturn were formed. Right up his alley, too.

As Stephen congratulates the ‘true scientist’ for guessing the answer, Alan goes ‘AHEM’, and we cut and see he’s had his card up as well.
Stephen: “….well done, NOW…”

After Brian takes some time with some truly interesting information on the moons of Saturn:
Ross, earnestly: “Of all these moons…and this is the one thing I wanted to ask you, of all these moons, which one is MOOOST likely to be the home to Ewoks?”
[And the audience goes wild, of course, because this is a great moment.]
Brian, rebounding like a champ: “It would be, uh…TITAN, actually. It has a thicker atmosphere than the earth, so….you’d…need to be furry…”
Ross nods, approvingly, and starts jotting it down. I’m just glad these two polar opposite mindsets could work together to make something hysterical.

And then Stephen, being Stephen, goes ‘you’re just gonna have to destroy the one that has Jar-Jar Binks on it, I suppose…”

Stephen talks of astronauts seeing penguin poop from space.
Ross: “Yeah, they pile it up like toothpaste, and they put it together to spell out ‘Piss Off Spacemen’..”

It’s mentioned that helium’s the 2nd-most abundant gas on the planet. When asked why, Sue keeps perking up and going ‘squeaky voices’.
Eventually this gets her a KLAXON (“Making your voice go funny”), and she rears back in a Jo-Brand-esque arms-out stance. Like, her works here is done.

Okay, here’s why I like Brian Cox. Unlike somebody like John Sessions or Rory McGrath, Brian Cox has all of this knowledge not from the desire to pedantic, but from years of experience and studying. He’s lived all of this knowledge, in terms of astronomy and such, and he can take this knowledge and make it interesting, knowing full well that QI’s a comedy program as well as an informational show. His information enhances that of a given topic, rather than just being random, trivial knowledge. Hell, he might even rank higher than Gyles Brandreth in this regard.

Also, what’s even better is when Ross pitches a ridiculous question, Brian can actually use science to theoretically answer it, even if, after another iteration of this, Sue’s going ‘OW, MY BRAIN…’

Stephen: “When…is the present?”
Sue: “Ohhhh…I’m not gonna fall into that trap. WHO’S gonna say it?”

There’s a nice runner where whenever Brian says something intelligent, both Ross and Alan start taking notes, even out of context.
Alan: “the sun has exploded….we’ve eight minutes to live…”

After Brian says that all electrons are just the one electron going through time several times.
Ross: “I have a feeling that when you’re late for a meeting, you’re an absolute nightmare…’you were supposed to be here 8 minutes ago”well…actually…’ ‘OH, GOD, HE’S DOING IT AGAINNNN…”

Stephen starts lighting candles to start a new topic.
Ross: ‘Is this the point where we all have to kneel down and pray to Jesus’ foreskin?’

Brian makes a point about nitrogen gas being heavier than air, and pushing all the air to the top of the lift. So people can suffocate, even if it’s Nitrogen.
Ross: “Every Al Queda cell that’s watching this tonight is going ‘WE’RE NOT DOING IT RIGHT!”

Stephen talks of a professor dipping a fresh rose in liquid nitrogen, and smashing it on the table, saying it was shockingly beautiful. Nobody else on the panel seems to share this sentiment.
Stephen: “I think you’re humoring me. I think you want me to go back to foreskins.”
Ross: “No, I think it’s a hilarious Valentine’s Day prank.”
Brian: “Imagine if they did that on Saturn’s moon titan, where the atmosphere is so cold-”
Ross, fetching his notebook: “Hold on, TITAN? THAT THE ONE WHERE THE EWOKS LIVE! HANG ON! Basically you’re saying that you can SHATTER an ewok!”
Brian: “YES!”
Brian: “It’s got layers of liquid methane, because it’s so cold. It has the consistency of water, so there’s methane rain, methane snow. There’s a lake of methane that’s the size of Lake Superior.”
Sue: “Methane, which is essentially a fart? Liquid fart? I don’t wanna go there! Strike it off!”
Ross: “If I could stand on a planet, and throw an ewok into a lake of farts, that would be-”
John: “Well, you couldn’t because it’d shatter…”
Ross: “……EVEN BETTER!”
Stephen: “It’s your heaven. Everyone has their own heaven, and that’s yours.”
Ross: “Hang on, when you say ‘tossing ewoks into a lake of farts’…
Stephen, seeing where he’s going: “STEADY…”
Ross, smiling: “That’s EXACTLY what I meant…”

Ross: “You know what? After this show finishes, I’m off. I don’t care. You’ll never see me again. ‘Where is he?’ ‘He’s off tossin’ ewoks again..into his lake of farts.”

Stephen, trying to keep the show going: “What variety of lettuce did they serve on board the titanic?”
Sue: “Iceberg!”
KLAXON
Sue collapses into that same Brand-esque ‘don’t care’ pose from earlier.

Stephen says there may have been 700 heads of lettuce because that’s just how much was saved.
Sue: “They SAVED the lettuce but not the people? FIFTEEN HUNDRED PEOPLE DIED! And they went ‘GET THE LETTUCE, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD…”

Stephen: “No, it was actually 7000 heads of lettuce.”
Ross: “No wonder the bloody thing sank, then. It was filled with lettuce…”
Brian: “Hey, lettuces float!”
Ross: “…THEN WHY DID IT SINK, THEN? WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE?”

There’s a round where the panel has to complete slogans for areas of the UK.
Stephen: “Welcome to Northamptonshire, let yourself-”
Sue: “…down.”
Ross: “‘let yourself out..'”

Stephen: ‘Welcome to Tower Hamlets, let’s make it ______”
Alan: ‘…out alive.”

Stephen, on satnavs: “I’ve just done voice for them, so that-”
Ross: “What, does it go ‘Turn left- now the interesting thing about…”
Alan: “Did you do it as if you were talking to me? LEFT, MORON!”
Ross: “If you make a left turn instead of making a u-turn, does the [klaxon] come on, and ‘WAAAAH-WAAAH-WAAHH…”

Sue nabs the SECOND ‘Nobody Knows of the night, by saying that nobody really knows the correct definition of a galaxy. Man, everybody’s just intelligent all-around tonight, even Ross Noble…

Overall: A truly fascinating show, not only being truly informative and thought-provoking, but also being truly hysterical. Ross Noble’s interactions with Professor Brian Cox made for some of the funnier moments of the series, and Sue Perkins had some insanely funny moments herself, leaving Alan with the least extraordinary day. Brian definitely seemed like he was enjoying himself, and was definitely the right person for this show, capable of spewing knowledge, as well as being able to laugh at himself (and mostly at Ross Noble.)

MVP: Brian
Best Guest: Ross
Show Winner: Brian
Best QI Fact: Goat-webs
Best Runner: Throwing ewoks into a lake of farts.