QI Watchdown: I15 (Immortal Bard), or OH! FRENCHWOMAN!

It’s been a while since I’ve truly devoted time to QI, and watching through it, to the point where I’ve basically taken 2 years to finish Series I. And it’s a shame, too, as this is a very funny season, with 3 10/10 shows, 2 extremely fun shows with Ross Noble screwing with a special guest, and just lots of great material.

Here, we see one of the last few instances of QI doing a ‘these 3 panelists are here a lot, let’s put them all together’ show; Bill Bailey, David Mitchell and Sue Perkins are all on a ton, and they’re all here tonight, on a special Shakespeare-themed QI, which should definitely make Stephen proud. It’s sad they couldn’t get an actual Shakespearean actor, like John Sessions, Brian Blessed or Emma Thompson, for this one, but with these three, including a guy who’d appear on a Shakespeare send-up years later (Upstart Crow), I think we’ll be fine.

Everyone is dressed for the occasion, as shown in the Intros:
Screen Shot 2018-08-16 at 7.36.28 PM.png

Early on, Stephen asks about the David Tennant production of Hamlet, and asks who Tchaikovsky played. And it’s already amusing enough, seeing these four try to work out what that means. Eventually, Stephen reveals that he played the skull, which is a nice touch.

Stephen of course, quotes the line where Hamlet holds the skull, “alas, poor Yorick, I knew him, Horatio-”
Bill: “Alas, poor Yo-…wait a minute, THIS IS TCHAIKOVSKY!”

Screen Shot 2018-08-16 at 7.44.57 PM.pngDavid: “You’d hope that they had to dirty it up again…like that’s not just a bit of the guy that’s still clinging…”

David has another line, about someone who wastes their life, and donates their skull to theatre, “and then all the reviewers say “…I dunno, Yorick felt a bit stilted…”

Stephen: “Name the Scottish Play, that Shakespeare wrote.”
Sue: “Ah, Taggart!”

Bill has a great moment here, where he ridicules Stephen for always tricking him, and naming fake Shakespeare plays that are clearly the wrong answer…and then he guesses Macbeth, which Stephen, rather matter-of-factly, goes “…yes.”

Stephen brings up that even saying Macbeth is bad luck
Sue: “Yeah, you have to sleep with all your costars immediately.”

Stephen talks of the John Gielgud production of Macbeth, saying four people died during the production.
Sue: “Was that the one where they used machine guns in it?”

The panel goes off on the idea that turning off mobile phones in a theatre should just be made a superstition, so more people will follow it. And they just keep building on it, saying it was an ancient curse from the time of King Tut.

Stephen: “I was in a theatre not long ago, where someone’s phone went off, and the actor just went “OH, FOR FUCK’S SAKE!”

Bill tells the story of a production of Diary of Anne Frank with Pia Zadora, and she was so bad that “by the time the Nazis started knocking on the door, someone shouted out ‘SHE’S IN THE ATTIC!”

Again, just the casual dynamic of these guys talking about Shakespeare and theatregoing is just fantastic. After a bit, they all just start telling stories of onstage interruptions, and it’s all great.

And then Bill tells the story of doing 12 Angry Men onstage, and one of the jurors fainted onstage, and they all had to help him off. “and you see the audience going ‘…I don’t remember a bit in 12 Angry Men where one of the jurors…died..”

The West Side Story question, which Bill guesses that the original title of West Side Story was…West Side Story (and is Klaxoned) is one I knew: Originally it was set in the east side. Sue knows this immediately.

Screen Shot 2018-08-16 at 9.35.11 PM.pngBill: “…all their pipes have been airbrushed out of this photograph…”
[But don’t take it from me, take it from Sweary Bob. “YEAH, THEY’RE FUCKIN’ GREAT!”]

Stephen gets the audience to answer that the Lion King is based on Hamlet, which Sue, like me, doesn’t entirely agree with: ‘AT WHAT POINT DOES HAMLET SING ‘HAKUNA MATATA??”

Stephen: “What about the Tempest, what movie was made of that?”
Bill, on the Lion King thread: “Wicked!”
Bill: “SPEED! SPEED 2!”
Sue: “Harold and Kumar Get the Munchies”

The way Stephen pronounces ‘Syracuse’, as ‘Syyyy-racuse’, angers me, as a New Yorker.

Stephen asks for the other main candidates for the ‘who really wrote shakespeare’s plays’ theory
Bill: “Oh, hang on-”
Bill presses his buzzer, then turns to Alan and goes “…what was it?”
Alan, through his fingers: “…MARLOWE!”

Bill: “Could he have theoretically dictated these plays, to someone else?”
Stephen: “I suppose it’s possible. Barbara Cartland used to lie on her sofa and dictate her marvelous novels…”
Sue: [cringes at that description]

Stephen: “I don’t suppose Shakespeare used every word he knew in his plays, as he left a lot out…[quieter]…I don’t remember the word ‘clitoris’ in any of them…”

Bill goes on a tangent about printing, about copying a vole, and printing a vole…and then it turns into a discussion of marzipan voles, which…again, this is classic Bill here, just going off about random things.

Stephen instructs the panel to figure out what all these seldom-used Shakespearean words mean
Screen Shot 2018-08-16 at 10.26.55 PM.png
Alan: “…I’ve got a Swoltery Quatch at the moment…”
And he just looks over at Stephen, bashfully
Alan: “…it happened when I put me kicky-wickies on…”

Sue: “What is a kickie-wickie? Is that Russell Brand’s version of a football?”
Stephen: “It’s an affectionate term for a wife.”
David: “Domestic violence was a lot more acceptable, then…”
Sue: “Ah, the old Smashy-Washy…the ol’ Battery-Watter…”

On the list of words that DID catch on:
Alan: “FRENCHWOMAN? A bit of a stretch. “Yes, I invented it…”
David: “He invented ‘taking the space out’…”
Bill, french accent: “Zis is my wife, she is a…zuhdkfjg…uh, thingymagig, I dunno…what can I call her? OH! FRENCHWOMAN!”

Sue, on the list of phrases: “…How did he say ‘What the Dickens’? Dickens didn’t come along for another 200 years!!”

There’s a running gag where Stephen’s chain necklace keeps getting caught on his sleeve. It happens twice, and it gets laughter from the audience each time.
Stephen: “…this bit of ruff is not behaving, I’ve said that before…”

Sue, on the Dangerous Dan question: “Oooh, I sense I’m falling into a pit, but I’ll do it anyway…dunno why I’m talking like that…”

Stephen: “Of course, the trap you fell into, the rewriting of Shakespeare, was actually done by a famous couple, whose names were…”
Bill: “…Richard and Judy!”

On the Bottom actor who Morris Danced from London to Norwich
Stephen: “There’s a phrase that came of this-”
Sue: “Cocking about? Making a right tit of yourself?”

Stephen: “What d’you call a group of Morris Dancers?”
Sue: “…an ass.”
Bill: “A SWARM!”
Sue’s doing great with little jokes tonight
Bill: “Uhh, a plague?”
Alan: “A BELLEND!”
[and I’m gone]

Stephen mentions that American Morris-Dancing is taking off “in a big way”
Alan, American accent: “I’VE JOINED A BELLEND!”

The klaxons in this episode are kind of expected: Sue, in answering the Marlowe question, prefaces it by saying “…let me say it so you can mock me.”

This episode is great for collaboration as well, which is what the last show was missing: there’s a gag about a bill for a brothel, and all four are collaborating, juxtaposing restaurant bill jokes onto the brothel setting. It’s fantastic.

Stephen: “What made Lord Byron limp?”
[childish laughter]
Sue: “Now that’s a loaded question…”
Bill: “Item 4 on the brothel bill?…uh, eight hours of Morris dancing?’

Stephen: “There was a scandal, in which he’d possibly had sex with…”
Sue: “…a young…”
Bill, confidently: “Goat.”
And he just sits there, nodding

Stephen: “Now, what can the Queen do that an idiot can’t?”
Screen Shot 2018-08-16 at 11.01.54 PM.png
Bill: “…by the looks of things, kill people with their own eyes…”

Overall: Along the same vein as Films & Fame- a very entertaining episode with great facts, that may not have been the funniest. I still enjoyed watching, as the panel was very coherent, and all four were capable of working with each other. Sue had the easier jokes, and not all of hers hit; David was the quietest of the four, but still had a great night whenever he spoke up; Bill Bailey, of course, had the funniest moments, and, like usual this series, is a delight at all points. A very fun show, and one, as a Shakespeare guy, that I got a lot out of.

MVP: Bill
Best Guest: Bill
Show Winner: David
Best QI Fact: Tchaikovsky’s head
Best Runner: Brothel bill

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S09E05, or THE EMOTIONAL HOLES!

Captain, the Stephen Fry episode might be too British for American audiences!

And so, we’re up to two straight appearances of Frost and his Hawaiian shirts, paired with a different American each time. Tonight, he’s paired with Greg Proops. That will be fun.

Clive’s intros are classic:
“As described by Dr. Spooner, the Shining wit of Greg Proops
then, as described by the Good Sex Guide, the extremely quick Stephen Frost
then as described by an Alien’s Guide to the Universe, one of us, it’s Colin Mochrie”
Screen Shot 2018-08-05 at 11.48.36 AM.png
“and as described by someone who’s never seen him, the fantastically talented Ryan Stiles!”

Superheroes: Pants are Getting Too Small
Greg: Captain Caterpillar
Ryan: Cat Cleaning Himself Man
Colin: Nude and Proud of it Boy
Steve: Nipple Tweak Boy

The second of two unbelievable instances of Greg-Clive banter this series.

Greg, as Clive explains the game, is goofing around, doing a Superman pose and trying to fly
Clive, seeing this out the corner of his eye: “…okay, you’re AUDITIONING for this role now…”

Someone shouts out ‘USELESS MAN’, but Clive goes with Caterpillar man: “Caterpillar man gives him more to play with, because Useless Man is…kinda what he is.”
Screen Shot 2018-08-05 at 11.54.17 AM.png

Audience member: “Pants are too small!”
Clive, to Greg: “Funny thing- have we done that already?”
Greg, still hurt: “If we have, I’m sure it was fraught with hilarity…”

Greg, immediately pre-scene: “Which one am I?”
Clive: “You’re Captain Caterpillar. But you can bring elements of Captain Useless as well, if you want.”
Greg, gearing up: “Listen, I’ll be Captain Caterpillar, and you can just sit there and be Captain Useless like usual.”
Clive, after that doesn’t get a ton of response: “…oh, YOU’RE winning tonight, as I can see..”

Greg, as Clive’s still going on, realizing what hasn’t happened yet: “Isn’t it about time you make some sort of inappropriate American reference or something?”
Clive: “…Not yet, you do the show.”
Greg: “Thanks.”
Clive: “…ya yank…”
Greg, STILL WANTING TO GO: “I can take a few hits if you want-”
Clive, realizing how far this has gone on, and completely done: “GET ON WITH IT GREG!!!”

All this, and the game hasn’t even started yet. Whoa. Greg, immediately before he starts improvising, realizes what just happened, and emits a little Muttley laugh.

Ryan, as Cat Cleaning Himself Man, coughs up a hairball
Greg: “Oh, good, I can live in that later…”

Colin, as nude and proud of it boy, is fantastic. He just starts pelvic thrusting stonefaced, like it’s nothing.
Greg: “Well, I wouldn’t be THAT proud of it if I was you.”
Clive chuckles at this.
Greg, reexplaining the crisis: “Everyone’s underpants are too tight, except for YOURS of course.”

And Steve as Nipple Tweak Boy…hysterical. Poor Colin, though; I bet he expected Steve would tweak someone else first, but he is Nude and Proud of It Boy.

Then, Steve goes to Ryan’s, and smirkingly goes “OOH, LOOK, I’M TWEAKING A PUSSY!”
The audience, rightfully, dies at this.
Greg, as he re-explains the crisis, cracks completely. Steve is completely gone, though, whispering to Greg something like ‘that’s not getting on’
Greg, knowing how the censors work: “You can say ‘pussy’ if you’d like…”

Steve leaves before he can do a solution, but Colin thankfully comes up with one, a rather extensive one. Greg breathes a sigh of relief.

A pretty good round: its banter and teamwork elevates it, but Steve forgot to do a solution, and Greg was mostly just moving the scene forward.

Film and Theatre Styles: Steve and Greg (mechanic and Top Gun pilot)

Again, I’m glad we’re seeing this game with more than the usual Ryan-Colin combo.

Clive: “…there’s ALWAYS SOMEBODY who says ‘Swedish porn movie’.

This game starts like a round of Old Job New Job, where Steve acts like a regular, London car mechanic, giving him a three day estimate with a lot of terminology. The contrast definitely works.

Greg, saying why he needs the plane now: “There’s things I’ve gotta shoot down! There’s bad turns I’ve got to make! There’s chicks I’ve got to sleep with after!”

Hospital Drama style, Greg hands Steve the spanner, then Steve reprimands him, and tells him to give more force angrily….drops it, and then says, tenderly, ‘like you did last night’. It’s, again, a fantastic contrast
Greg: “You know, when I’m holding you like this, I don’t want to let go. I want to heal you. I want to take all the holes in you and seal them over.”
Steve: [breaks]
Greg, as the audience gets the wrong idea, TURNS TO CAMERA: “…THE EMOTIONAL HOLES.”
And I’m gone. Steve’s looking to Ryan and Colin for help.
Clive: ‘…it conjured up such a picture.”
Greg: “THIS IS A HOSPITAL DRAMA, NOT A SWEDISH PORN FILM. Get your minds out of the gutter.”
Clive: “SWE-”
Clive, quite obviously: “Swedish Porn Movie.”

Greg, immediately: “Oh, I’ve dropped de Span-ner…”

Greg ends this portion by looking around at Steve’s butt.
Steve, cracking: “I’ve got a lovely undercarriage, haven’t I?”
Greg: “You’re right, the light DOES stay on when you bend over.”
Steve: [bends over laughing]

Clive: “Beavis and Butthead”
Greg: [chuckling, pointing at Steve’s butt]

Clive: “Hammer Horror”
Greg: “Yes. I saw your crack.”

Greg’s posh English accent is fantastic, telling Steve he’s going to leave: “You can try to frighten me all you’d like, with your bizarre accent and tufty eyebrows.”

Pride and Prejudice
Greg: “Can’t you see I’m in love with you? I haven’t said anything for 35 years because I’m English and can’t express my emotions.”

The scene ends with Greg embracing Steve, asking him to ‘shoot me with your oil gun’, and Steve giving a gruff ‘GOOD GOD.’ As do we all.

A delightfully out of bounds scene. I don’t envy Steve in that scene, as I would have been cracking up throughout as well, but he did do a nice job of returning the favor in terms of improv, though Greg did a lot of the heavy lifting. It did feel like a fleshed-out, semi-plot-reliant F&TS, like the older series’.

Weird Newscasters – Greg is the anchor, Ryan (thinks he’s back in ‘Nam) is the coanchor, Colin (recently broke up with Greg) is the weatherman, and Steve (a compulsive gambler) is the ‘financial correspondant’.

Ah yes, the old setup, where Colin did weather and Ryan was co-anchor. They’d figure this out by S10.

Ryan: “There’s a big…pile-up on the freeway. Did you see it, Greg?”
Greg: “…well…no…”
Ryan: “You didn’t see it because YOU WEREN’T THEEEERE, MAAANNN…”

Ryan’s embittered Nam vet is fantastic, because…to be honest, that’s one of the better characters he plays. Either embittered Nam vet or embittered ex-husband.

Greg, handing off to Colin: “Sheila, looks like a fabulous weekend brewing.”

This wasn’t the greatest WN, but the game really took off when all four were acting on each other, or, rather, all three were acting on Greg. Towards the end, Colin was clinging to Greg, Steve won a bet, and Ryan was trying to carry Greg out. It was a fantastic combination of moments, which is a shame, as their alone bits weren’t as good.

Moving People – Ryan and Colin are two high-tech thieves stealing a famous painting from a gallery.

Lorna, the second audience member, gets behind Colin, but the other one is already there, so Clive directs her over to Ryan…who, noticing her looks, proceeds to take her offset by the arm.
Clive: “It’s not a social event, it’s just…”

Ryan already seems befuddled by the speed at which Lorna moves him, chuckling through a few line reads, like “…tell me…d’you like my new outfit?”

Colin: “We’re gonna have to crawl under the laser beams!”
Ryan, who’s been bent completely over: “…I’ve already started, Gary…”

There’s a surprising amount of character that Ryan and Colin add here, about Ryan’s past as a professional limbo-er.
Colin: “You’re right, I guess I’m going to hang my head in shame.”
The audience member doesn’t get this prompt, and moves his legs
Colin: “…but first i’ll move over here…”

Ryan realizes that what Lorna’s about to do is going to end badly, and cracks up, as his knees give out and he crashes to the floor.

Then…Lorna does this:
Screen Shot 2018-08-05 at 1.30.52 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-08-05 at 1.31.04 PM.png
IMMEDIATELY Lorna backs away and cracks up, and Ryan does his ‘losing it while staying still’ face from Dead Bodies
Colin: “NO!”
Ryan: “…GOD you’ve got a tight little ass!”

Ryan, as he’s still there: “…WAIT…we can hide the painting in the cheeks of your ass!”

The audience member FINALLY moves Ryan, and raises him up to Colin’s chest.
Ryan: ‘…but first, let me feed for a while.”
BUZZ. Both audience members lose it. As does the audience.

DEAR GOD. Another insanely funny game, made even funnier by the ineptitude of Lorna as a mover, and just how Ryan reacted to being moved. Too damn funny.

Props: Ryan and Colin vs. Greg and Steve

Ah yes, the infamous Chicken Toss props round.

Screen Shot 2018-08-05 at 1.35.03 PM.pngColin: “…if only the doves had seen that steamroller…”


Greg has an extended bit as ‘King of the Bin People’, looking out to the audience and commanding recognition, as Clive buzzes repeatedly

Then, Greg grabs Colin’s prop, and sets up the ‘Chicken Toss’, throwing Colin’s prop at Steve’s bin prop, and missing.
Clive: “Hang on, you’ve broken into their props!”
Then, Ryan, catching on, uses HIS prop suggestion to keep Greg’s going, and makes it in. Everyone cheers. Hooray for unity!

Again, a pretty fun Props round, as Ryan and Colin’s suggestions were the weirder, and funnier, of the bunch.

Party Quirks: Greg hosts
Steve: prisoner on a rooftop protest
Colin: has a stomach full of fireworks
Ryan: someone’s holiday photos

Steve, immediately: “I’m not coming down til we get better food than that” [pointing to Greg’s table]

Colin’s physicality is great here, even launching a firework out of his butt
Greg: “Colin, please, I just had the place decorated!”

Clive essentially gives Greg Ryan’s, and it’s a smaller, weaker PQ playing, but it’s definitely got charm to it.

Sports Commentators: Steve and Greg comment on Ryan and Colin, rival businessmen on a plane next to each other

This one’s, like most playings of this game, hit or miss, but it has some moments: Ryan farting in the oxygen mask, and shoving it in Colin’s face; Colin responding by inflating the life-vest inside Ryan, with Ryan doing great physicality there; The super-slow-mo recap of the last bit, with Ryan’s look of absolute terror.

Again, amusing enough, but this game never completely works for me.

Hoedown: Weddings

Clive: “…Weddings? Weddings make you sick? How many have you had?”

Clive: “And we start with you, Steve, as we can tell by the panic-stricken look on your face…”

Steve: “My brother got married…his name is, er, Gromit
And when he walked down the aisle, I began to vomit!”
Unfortunately, he screws up the punchline, and shrugs to Clive. He motions to Greg, still standing still, who then breaks.
Greg: “Is that it, then?”

Greg talks of loving marriages, but then growing tired of it after a few years: “it made me really sick, because my name is Lady Di.”
Of course, the topical reference…what, a month before the tragedy?

Colin, before he starts, looks over shrewdly at Greg, before starting, in his usual yell-singing:
Fantastic. Greg dances jovially at this.

The credit reading is great, as it features Ryan in his usual french babbling, which is always welcome.

Overall: I was surprised by this one. I mean, quality wise it was all over the place, with some great games and some empty ones, but…I wasn’t expecting this one to be THIS GOOD. Everybody knows Superheroes for the banter, and Props for the Chicken Toss, Film and Theatre Styles was electric, Moving People was pants-wettingly funny, and they even got a nice Hoedown out of the proceedings. Yes, Steve still brings up the rear of this group, but he’s still very funny, and had great moments throughout, but this was still the Americans’ show: Greg was great at keeping games going, and had a few over-exposure-y moments tonight (as is apparently custom this series), Colin was great throughout, and Ryan had the most standout moments, especially after Moving People.

Show Winners: Ryan and Colin
Best Performer: Ryan. He barely edges out the other two North Americans, but he still was solid throughout
Worst Performer: Steve. Just had the most faux-pas on the night
Best Game: Moving People. As much as I love Film and Theatre Styles, Moving People made me laugh HARD. And there was so much effort put in.
Worst Game: Sports Commentators. Not a lot to this one.

Whose Watchdown is it Anyway: S09E04, or Bernstein, there could be a musical in this…

At this point in Series 9, directed solely towards American audiences, we come across something…Quite Interesting indeed.

As I said before, every episode of Series 9 only features one or less UK performer, and usually someone like Steve Frost, Rory Bremner or Josie Lawrence, pre-established repertory players who can let the Americans do the heavy lifting. Except for this one. Episode 4. Josie Lawrence is here, but…so is someone who hasn’t appeared since Series 1 of the show, and knows a vastly different Whose Line than the one he’s about to guest on. And that is Stephen Fry.

Yeah. Dan and Mark thought that an episode featuring the SINGLE MOST BRITISH PERSON on the planet would help the appeal on Comedy Central. Now, granted…in 1997, Stephen Fry was semi-relevant in America, having appeared in the 1994 Meg Ryan rom-com IQ (with an American accent, no less), as well as starring in that year’s stateside Oscar-bait-y film…about a guy named Oscar (’97’s ‘Wilde’). I can only imagine people in the US knew who Stephen Fry was in 1997, but…were these people watching Comedy Central? Were these people watching Whose Line?

So, this episode is one of the last two legitimately mix UK dynamic and US dynamic; Stephen and Josie did scenes together back in the day, and are STILL very friendly; Ryan and Colin are the strongest duo the show’s ever seen. And they’re about to, essentially, do battle.

People in the audience are cheering loudly after intros, and Clive remarks: “Well, we’ve got a very lively audience tonight…for a very dull set of improvisers-”

Questions Only: All four are in Rome

Because, with Stephen Fry on the bill, of course they are.

Stephen flocks to the step for the top of the game, only for Clive to inform him that he’s starting.
Josie: “Come on, darling-”
Stephen: “Oh, I’m terribly sorry-”
Clive: “You’ve been away too long, I see..”

Stephen, of course, starts his scene speaking in Latin.
Josie, eventually: “Are you talking Latin or just taking the piss?”

Stephen also rolls out an unbleeped ‘FUCK’ on his first buzz-out of the day. It’s hidden under the buzz, but…at this specific taping, there’d be a less-hidden expletive, courtesy of Stephen, which we’ll get to. Two, even.

Ryan: “Did you order a pizza?”
Ryan, with an underrated line: “What did you order?”
Colin: “Don’t you have some grapes?”
Ryan: “…can you handle pepperoni?”
Colin: “What’s a pepperoni?”
Ryan: “……I DON’T KN-”

Josie: “Would you like a statue erected to you?” [eyebrow raise]
Ryan: “…what do you mean by erected?”

This scene is very silly, and not taken seriously by the performers, so when Colin comes down and asks Ryan “WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH MY FAMILY”, it’s the kind of jarring turn that gets Clive laughing immediately.
Ryan: “That was YOUR family?”

After Clive buzzes both our, Josie asks Stephen: “Are you going to the Parthenon tonight?”
Stephen then has a conundrum. He KNOWS the Parthenon is not in Rome. The Parthenon is in Athens. Because THEY SAY OF THE ACROPOLIS WHERE THE PARTHENON IS…you know the rest. But he’s conflicted, because he can either ‘yes-and’ Josie’s question, or he can say, with reality, that the Parthenon is actually in Athens. And that’s what he goes with, after a second, as Clive has already buzzed out Stephen for taking too long.
Stephen: “Couldn’t you explain that the Parthenon’s in Athens?”
And Stephen leaves, as Josie cringes onstage.

Josie, to Ryan now: “IS the Parthenon in Athens?”
Ryan, deadpan: “Would you like to buy a map?”

A really energetic QO round, even if Stephen took a bit of a learning curve, Josie forgot where the Parthenon was (and who she was talking to), and the scenes only really went back-and-forth when Colin and Ryan were up together.

Film and Theatre Styles: Josie and Stephen (hijacker and pilot)

Thank god, we see Stephen and Josie play this. No offense to Ryan and Colin, but they’ve gotten enough duo showcases lately.

Clive, fielding suggestions: “BILL AND BEN? CAN WE JUST UP THE ANTE A BIT HERE?”
Audience member: “Prisoner in Cell Block 8”
Clive: “Yes, an intellectual, thank goodness for that…”

I have a feeling that Stephen knew about the ‘twist’ from the getgo, as he has this confused expression as Josie enters, wanting to have a look at the ‘cock pit’, before finally going “…well, alright.” He had to have known what he was doing.

Stephen, “please, sit down on the, uhm-”
Josie: “On the-”
Stephen: “Yes, on the co-pilot there…”

Josie finally pulls up a gun, and threatens to shoot Stephen if he doesn’t take her to Cuba.
Stephen: “…..you know this is a simulator, don’t you?”
AND THAT’S PERFECT. The audience even applauds this.

Prisoner in Cell Block 8
Stephen: “That’s alright, everybody’s gotta have a first time, and usually I’m the bitch that gives it to ’em…”

Stephen’s Aussie accent in this is pretty damn great, especially his calculated pauses in his sentences, ending in “and THEN come to me and allow me to insert STRANGE things inSIDE ya.”

Clive: “Bill and Ben”
Stephen: [breaks]
Josie: [says a bit in Flobidob]
Stephen: “Oh, I was thinking of Bill Clinton and Tony Benn, I’m sorry”

At the start of World War II movie, he forgets who he is in the scene, and that he’s not the hijacker, so he continues flying the plane, now a war-style plane. It’s funny that he started this show as the competent scene partner, and now HE’S the Peter Cook.

Josie does a very nice proper accent while Stephen has goggle-hands and is doing the plane noise.
Josie, after a bit too much of this: “…will you PLEASE stop going off?”
Stephen: “I’m sorry, it’s the damn Gestapo, they fixed my fingers to my eyes”

Clive: “American soap opera, DIN-asty, Dynasty sort of thing”
Stephen: ‘Which?”
[the audience laughs at this]
Stephen: “I do a ‘DINasty, and I do a Dynasty!”
Clive: “Do both, and we’ll try to tell, Stephen…”
Stephen: “Alright, you have to say which one, whether Dynasty or DINasty-”
Clive: “DINasty”
Stephen: “…right.”
Stephen: “…that’s the one I can’t do…”

Stephen and Josie’s American accents are surprisingly great. Josie’s taking several breaths between words, and doing a GREAT soap opera performance.

Stephen, in order to properly throttle Josie, takes the stuffing out of her shoulders (or bra, I dunno), and yells “YOU’RE A COLBY, GODDAMMIT!”, the big cut-to-commercial line. And, fittingly, Clive buzzes.

A very funny round, even if, like late-era Tony and Paul rounds, it didn’t always stay in the realm of improv. Josie was fantastic, though.

Sound Effects: Colin looks for thrills at the fairground, Ryan does the SFX

Ryan starts by doing a tired, trumpety circus theme from afar. Already off to a nice start.

Colin has a great character trait here: he gets to the shooting range, fires, there’s a slight pop, and Colin looks around, disappointed. He’s an adrenaline junkie, he wanted a louder bang. He tries another one, same pop. He gets to a third. LOUD BANG. He smiles.

After the third bang, he looks over in fear. That is ALL it takes to show what happened. It’s masterful.

This one also has the visual of Colin grabbing an elephant by the trunk and throwing it off into the distance….only for it to land on someone else.

Then, of course, Colin going on a roller coaster. He absolutely NAILS the physicality, and the panicked expression the further and further up he goes.

A weaker ending, but still a very fun SFX round. Stephen was getting a kick out of it in the back.

Number of Words: Romeo and Juliet
Ryan: Romeo (3 words)
Josie: Juliet (4 words)
Colin: Juliet’s mother (2 words)
Stephen: Juliet’s father (6 words)

Again, note the classy scene description for Stephen

The scene is great from the getgo, and surprisingly dramatic. Stephen, though, is counting on his fingers, as he reprimands Josie: “ONCE! A! CAPULET! ALWAYS! A! CAPULET!”
Josie, as the applause for that dies down: “Ow, my right boob!”
Ryan: “My favorite one!”

Colin, entering: “WHAT THE.”
That’s literally all you need in this game.

Ryan, bringing back his Agatha Christie voice from S7: “I…..love…….Juliet”

As Stephen has more trouble counting
Stephen, finding an easy out: “…Kill yourself? Kill yourself? KILL YOURSELF?”

As Ryan and Josie ready the poison
Absolutely genius.
Stephen: “:ONE….TWO….THREE…”
Josie drinks the poison
Stephen: “….Oh my god.”

Josie, at a quiet moment: “….I feel like shit.”

Then, as Josie’s dying, Stephen, forgetting what game he’s in, calls out to someone offscreen “BERNSTEIN, there could be a musical in this!”

An extraordinarily silly scene: Ryan, Juliet and Colin had a firm grasp of the source material, and translated it well to the game. Stephen was just having fun. And I don’t blame him. As a true Shakespeare scholar, he must know that deep down, Romeo and Juliet isn’t a great play, so maybe he’s more familiar with the histories. I dunno, that’s my next QI to watch.

Props: Colin and Ryan vs. Josie and Stephen

Stephen, holding the prop, really a big pool noodle: “Uh, Miss Street-Porter, your floss has arrived!”
And they thought THAT would go over with the American audiences? If people barely knew who Stephen was over here, they most certainly didn’t know who Janet Street-Porter was.

Ryan uses the prop as a pterodactyl wings, as Colin just does his dinosaur impression, which certainly cracks up Clive.

Screen Shot 2018-08-04 at 9.47.07 PM.pngColin: “….Santa, we’re going on strike.”
Ryan, kinda amazed: “WHAT??”

Let’s Make a Date: Josie guesses
Stephen: a trendy vicar
Colin: Hates everything English
Ryan: eating a tremendously hot curry

A classic.

Josie: “Number One?”
Stephen, immediately: ‘Dick, call me Dick.”

Stephen, on what he’d invent: “I’d, uh invent…a kind of sharing…a sort of…outreach, if you like…MOST PEOPLE DON’T….a kind of sharing outreach…I think is what we really need, don’t you?”
Absolutely perfect. Stephen’s real-world detesting of religion certainly aides this.


Ryan nails this. Just by how agape his mouth is. And then his stomach starts rumbling, and he has this look of absolute panic.

Josie, already knowing exactly who Stephen is: “Could you explain to me a bit about the current book you’re reading, and why you like it?”
Stephen: “…The book I’m reading is a book I always read…at the moment, uh…I’ve got quite far into it, I don’t want to give much away…but it’s about a friend of mine, and I think someone who could become a friend of yours…he’s a sharing kinda guy. IN A LOT OF WAYS HE’S A BIT LIKE A GANGSTA RAPPER IN A STRANGE WAY…he’s out there ON THE STREETS…WITH THE KIDS……SHOOTING UP…but he shoots up with love!”
Josie: “Aww, that’s nice.”
Stephen, ascending in pitch: ‘Yep…YEP…*YEP*”

Colin: “Everyone drinks tea in those books. WHAT IS IT WITH TEA? I’VE PASSED STRONGER URINE SAMPLES THAN THAT!”

Josie, guessing: “I think Colin’s just bein’ himself…”

Josie: “And, uh, Ryan’s just eaten something very hot and pooed himself?”
Ryan: [grimaces]
Clive: “That’s it!”
Ryan, heading back to the seats: “I POOED MYSELF?”

A very strong game; obviously I loved Stephen’s quirk, but everyone had really nice moments.

Newsflash: Josie and Ryan in the studio, Stephen in the field, in front of a King Kong movie

Stephen as the centerpiece of this game does make me a bit nervous, knowing how Rory did.

Stephen’s surprisingly a natural at this game, but the audience is mostly just laughing at the ridiculousness of the King Kong film behind him.

Ryan: “Stephen, we’re worried about your safety, do you think you’re too close?”
Screen Shot 2018-08-04 at 10.00.28 PM.png
“…I don’t feel too close…”
Screen Shot 2018-08-04 at 10.00.35 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-08-04 at 10.01.05 PM.png
Perfect. Absolutely perfect.

Josie: “Is the man in the hand frightened?”
Stephen: “….is the MAN…IN the HAND…FRIGHTENED?”
Of course, at that point, the footage has him directly in the footpath of Kong, so Ryan and Josie start panicking again.

Ryan: “Stephen, do you have any form of protection with you?”
Stephen: “I’m afraid I don’t…I just have a BBC press pass…do you think that’ll help?”

Stephen guesses correctly, but after Clive kids him for ‘monkeying around’. Perfectly fine playing, and with a ton of really convenient moments of Stephen being in the right frame of shot at the right time.

Hoedown: Marital Problems

Screen Shot 2018-08-04 at 10.05.33 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-08-04 at 10.05.45 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-08-04 at 10.06.08 PM.pngPoor Stephen.

Josie’s is kinda forgettable, and then we get to Stephen. If you’ve seen his Raps, you know how much he’s dreading this. He even looks at Richard, and applauds him for keeping on as Stephen stalls.

Stephen, finally, not in time: “Music and sex are very similar to me….I just can’t…make them.
Whatever I do, or whenever I try to, I always find that the best way is to fake them.
I’ve been to that, uh, Anne Somers shop, I’ve been in every branch…
But the only way I can REALLY get it off is, with, uh, Richard Vranch.”
HA. AND RICHARD GETS A KICK OUT OF THIS. Fantastic moment from Stephen.

Colin sings as a whale who keeps talking about old boyfriends, finishing with “well, how the hell can I compare to a guy named Moby Dick?” Very clever.

And Ryan’s is clever, but forgettable.

OVERALL: This show had no right to be this good. And yet…all four were on, every game was funny,  and despite contrasting GREATLY with the Comedy Central audience expectation, it may have been the last breath of old Whose Line coming to save the show one last time. Stephen Fry, despite his moments of befuddlement, was wonderful here; sure, he wasn’t at ‘womp some skull on that, bitch’ levels, but he was enjoying himself, and worked well with all three. Josie was her jovial self, and brought out the best in everyone. Ryan and Colin stuck mostly to the background, but were great in scenes; Ryan mastered games early on, and Colin had some late victories. There were several classic games here, and just a surreal-but-fantastic mood throughout. An unlikely pick for ‘best of the series’, but still a valid one.

Show Winner: Stephen
Best Performer: ….yeah, I’m going with Stephen Fry. He was a LAWFUL improviser, and he was a FUNNY improviser, and he meshed so well with the other three. This is how a master returns to his craft.
Worst Performer: I’m only going with Josie because she didn’t have as many standout moments.
Best Game: Let’s Make a Date. Just had the best moments from all four.
Worst Game: Hoedown was the most uneven, but Stephen and Colin save it.