Over the next two series of QI, it’s gonna be noticeable that the BBC is piping in a moratorium that there’s got to be at least one female panelist on the program in an effort to allow more female comics to be featured, which I can definitely agree with. Yes, QI does lend itself to a ‘boys club’ dynamic, especially in its earlier series (Sean Lock’s shows boosted this narrative), but the last two series of the show have proved that panelists like Sandi Toksvig, Sue Perkins and now Victoria Coren-Mitchell are capable of providing fantastic moments.
Tonight’s show puts the moratorium to the test- Jo Brand is the anchor, Sue Perkins is the comic foil and Liza Tarbuck is the informational assistant. Three women and Alan, a tactic that would be revisited a few more times (I believe there was also one with Alan and three noted lesbians), but this assortment seems like a nice start.
A nice buzzer pun: the first three have party favor buzzers, party horns. Alan’s is Lesley Gore’s ‘It’s My Party’. Of course.
Jo gets the ball rolling rather quickly:
Stephen: “What begins with J and appears to be alive?”
Jo: “…is it me?”
Liza: “James Blunt?”
Stephen: “Closer, I reckon.”
Sue, bashfully: “…Jeremy Clarkson.”
And, as with custom, Sue outstretches her arms, as if she’s Andy Dufresne, and basks in the OWA.
Stephen restates the question
Sue: “Jedward, then. I’m revising my answer.”
[Also: Two Jedward references in two episodes. Man, they were milking this topical joke for all it was worth]
As Stephen explains why this is the case, Jo absent-mindedly guesses jelly, which is correct.
Jo: “Bloody hell!”
Stephen goes over all the uses for pigs
Stephen: “A pig’s bladder is used as tambourine skin.”
Jo: “I knew those folkies were evil…”
Sue: “You don’t want to get in a pen with a pig who’s approaching sexual maturity, as I learned at my cost…”
Alan: “And how ARE the piglets?”
Sue: “THEY’VE GOT NAMES, ALAN!”
Alan: “Porky and Perkin…”
Stephen, correcting Alan under the applause “it’s PINKY and Perkin…”
Just an general observation: everyone seems to be having so much fun so far, giggling and laughing. It helps that everyone seems to know each other well, and that these three are just in good moods. Granted, only the small lines are hitting thus far, but it seems to be a very fun dynamic so far.
On the line, from Stephen, “it stops you from being able to speak properly”, a picture of George W. Bush appears on the behind-screen. Yes, this was well into the Obama administration, but Bush jokes were still easy back then.
So they develop a contraption to speech-jam, or delay speech to the ear by a fifth of a second, in an effort to confuse brain activity…and try it out on Alan, by having him read from a book on jam. But…it doesn’t really work, and the only thing that happens is that Alan has to bring the book closer so he can read clearer. Stephen is dumbfounded, and suggests they try it on Jo.
It does happen to work on Jo, as within about 4 seconds she gets very confused, as Stephen starts with the jammer turned on.
Stephen: “…thank GOD it works for you…”
Jo: “I’ve got schizophrenia now…”
Liza’s turn goes fairly well, though the book does go into lines about bumholes and buttplugs,
Stephen: “YOU MADE THAT UP!”
Liza: “I didn’t! Mrs. Beaton. Dirty old bitch…”
As Sue switches places to have her turn: “I wanna see what happens to Mrs. Beaton and the buttplug.”
When Sue tries it, she starts out very well, but after a while she begins slurring, and slowing her dialogue, now just acting drunk while still trying to soldier on with it. She even says “I sound drunk now!”
And, after she’s gone on for a while: “owww, my head, where’s everyone gone?”
Liza admits later that her radio experience may have made her better at using the device, as she’s used to hearing herself on air with a delay.
Stephen: “I’ve got jumbo wrists and I’m covered in tit juice. What have I been up to?”
Jo, amidst cracking: “…is it a night out with Tarbuck and Perkins?”
Stephen, describing other fisherman ailments: “You can also get haddock rash…”
Jo: “Why are you looking at me?”
Jo does mention that it’s similar to pregnant women having swelling
Stephen: “That’s right, a lot of people can’t take their wedding ring off again after they’ve given birth”
Jo: “Yeah, and they’re pissed off about it…”
Stephen: “What was unique about Fanny Farmer’s cup size?”
Liza, once again, just doubles over laughing. This is almost as bad as the gis stuff from last episode.
Stephen, still reestablishing the question: “…and it’s nothing to do with fanny-farming being an occupation.”
Again, the panel loses it.
Liza: “I NEVER THOUGHT I’D HEAR HIM SAY THAT!”
This is also the second show in a row that mentions Sherlock Holmes, though this one is more about the magazine where he first appeared, rather than his ejaculations.
Sue, on a question about Marie Antoinette’s bosom, says that she hates the term ‘breasts’, and people should just be more forthcoming about it, say ‘boobs’, or ‘jugs’ as Liza suggests.
Stephen: “I like ‘titties”
The audience beats Sue to this, but she goes “I’M SURE YOU DO!”
Sue: “YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST!”
Stephen, on the Antoinette cups: “And you can have replicas, if you’d like to have one in your own house.”
Alan: “I Do.”
Liza talks about going in to have a bra measured, and having the person open the curtain, look at her, and go “I can’t help you.”
Alan: “I’LL MAKE YOU A BRA, but I can’t help you…”
After the conversation about what women go through with bramakers, Stephen shudders, which gives the effect of a motorboat. He realizes the connotation and facepalms. Poor, poor Stephen.
Stephen even gives a breast-related dirty joke.
Sue: “Yeah, tonight’s the night you turn…”
The show does take another lull not too soon after, with both the IWS and the miracle berry segments just limping along. Like last show, a lot of the humor is solely cheap innuendo, and this panel doesn’t do anything with the innuendo other than just fall victim to it.
On this matrilineal society
Alan: “WHAT THEY WANT TO DO…is they want to put the necklaces on BEFORE they put the hat on…”
Stephen: “What’s the main ingredient in fish jam?”
Alan: “I SENSE A TRAP…”
Stephen: “So what’s the main ingredient to Hitler bacon?”
The ending Jolly Jape involves all four attempting to drink from a water cup with holes in it, which Sue has a ton of fun with.
Alan wins with +11, which is a triumphant end to this one, but…Jo lampshades that for the sake of the booking people, it would have been nicer if a woman won.
Sue, even: “This experiment in women on television has failed.”
Overall: Despite some fun moments in the middle, and a general jovial mood, this show was generally disappointing, with either deafening lulls, or moments that relied too heavily on innuendo, like the entire miracle berry sequence. It’s not the fault of any of the panelists, who all did well, but it was one of those shows that just couldn’t really take off past funny answers and…the occasional boob joke. Sue and Liza knowing each other definitely helped, as both were bouncing off each other all night, and Jo, while more subdued, was still funny, but…not a lot to excavate from this one.
Best Guest: Liza
Show Winner: Alan
Best QI Fact: sentient jelly
Best runner: Stephen’s tit fixation
A shame that one was a downer, but coming up next we have one I’ve been excited to cover for a very long time.