QI Watchdown: J3 (Journeys), or This is a Whole New Tactic He’s Doing

When I got the idea to start watching QI, I did the obvious thing, and went into youtube for funny bits featuring the people I knew were funny, like Phill Jupitus, Bill Bailey and people like that. Needless to say, several moments from this episode were well-reported on youtube, despite my friend Mick’s warnings that things would begin to go back after Series I ended.

With everything I know about this one, I’m excited to get to it.

I’m also excited because this is an intriguing panel indeed. Aside from having Phill, in full bearded mode, we have a return from Rob Brydon, who makes the first of his last two appearances this series. We also have the first entry into QI’s Oceanian expansion, as several Aussies and Kiwis appear on the show this series, starting with Cal Wilson, noted Kiwi humorist who would go on to recur on the Australian Whose Line (which reminds me, that show wasn’t bad. Steen Raskopoulos was a solid regular).

All the buzzers are travel related. Phill’s is a ship’s foghorn [“which you do, in fact”], and Alan’s is a bicycle horn.

Stephen says that Alan and he traveled to Australia, where they found Cal, lampshading that maybe some of these Oceanian imports may have come from this Alan-Stephen voyage. Though I imagine some, like Rhys Darby, would have happened anyhow.

After Alan tells a story about losing his passport between the airplane seat, ending with “and then I found it”, Rob, dumbfounded, looks over and goes “I’m sorry, is that Alan Davies or Peter Ustinov? If that’s the level of the bar this evening, I may go home!”

Stephen mentions that when you’ve lost something, it helps to say the name of the thing you’ve lost.
Rob: “dignity.”
Phill, taking the opposite approach: “Your wallet has a NAME? “PEREGRIIIINE! PEREGRINE! baaah. PEREGRINE!”
Stephen: [loses it]
Alan: “IT HAS NOW!”

Stephen then mentions opening a drawer, and going “where the hell’s the garlic peeler?”
Alan, at Stephen’s poshness: “garlic peeler…”
Phill: “ANDREW!”
Stephen, still laughing: “You’re missing my point about names…I meant the name of the thing you’re searching for…its normal description that’s found in a dictionary, not from a l-list of given names…it isn’t ‘Julian the cheese grater’…”

Rob, in subsequent appearances, has become great at pedantic explanations of things. Granted, I know he’s great at collaboration, but it’s not exactly clear if his stopping of the show to selfishly explain something by himself is ironic or not. It’s honestly just what Rob does.

The discussion turns to ‘should we let the queen eat a kiwi’, and Stephen says he’d say to her “stop eating that kiwi, you dreadful old woman…”
Phill: “I imagine you’d be a bit more polite. I mean, you are Stephen Fry, off the telly.”

Phill: “or, ‘YOUR MAJESTY…PUT THE PUFFIN DOWN’. Let’s just have a load of situations where we tell the queen to stop eating things.”
Stephen: “Okay, children, we now have a round of ‘Your Majesty, please put the puffin down.”

On the bird swallowing a live snail, Rob: “Does the snail go into his own shell? I don’t mean is he a little self-conscious…”

Rob talks about filming on a ship with James Corden: “Suddenly, the boat tipped, on an angle, one way-”
Alan, stating the obvious: “Did James Corden go to the other…”
Rob, under applause: “That’s very naughty, Alan…”

Rob: “A lot of people in Britain struggle with their weight, Alan.”
Stephen: “Yes, I do…”
Rob: “…I mean, I wasn’t thinking about you-”
Alan, still going: “Why, were you with him?”

Stephen: “Who used to go ’round in cabs with Richard Burton?”
Cal, giving a cheeky joke: “Was it Elizabeth HAILer?”

I’m noticing that the three guest panelists are all sort of keeping to themselves so far, though Cal is slowly getting better at collaborating. Rob and Phill are really only doing their own thing thus far.

Rob, in a callback to Series F, talks about a cabbie who recognized Rob from TV, but as he went on it became clear he was really talking about Ben Miller. And he was going along with it.
Rob: “And then he went “I tell you who you must get confused for…that old Welsh one!” And I said ‘oooh, Rob Brydon?’ and he went ‘yeeeahhh…’

Now, this runner starts innocently enough:
Stephen: “How long would it take you to bicycle from Land’s End to the, uh, northernmost point of Britain..”
Phill: “What, John O’Groats, you mean?”
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Phill: ‘NO, ASK CLEAR…WELL DEFINED QUESTIONS. Ya don’t buzz-buzz me on CHIT-CHAT!”

Cal has a great anecdote about a talking dog statue in Sydney, that rewards donations with “THANK YOU……WOOF.”

Alan, on the child statue with a coin slot: “Some of them have two slots, in their box.”
Stephen, being Stephen: “Women, I suppose…”
Cal buzzes in just to say “I RESIGN!”
Alan, calling back to last show: “We’ve established that this is not your area…”
Phill: “It’s like you’re talking about Narnia or something…it’s just a fantastical land that you’ve only ever heard about…”
Cal, giggling: “You make your way through the fur coats, and suddenly…”
Phill: “And for a while, you have a magical time, but then you meet an ice-maiden…”

At this point, Stephen just looks at everyone, and goes, inwardly, “oh dear god.” I bet that’s the indicator that this show’s really kicked in.

After this, the dynamic kicks in- Alan, Cal and Phill all contribute to a conversation about a dolphin playing golf. Surprisingly, Rob is keeping to himself, though.

Stephen reveals that puffins’ beaks fall off after they’ve attracted a mate
Phill, floored: “THE DIRTY, DIRTY PUFFINS…”
Rob: “Is it the equivalent of a woman losing her figure after she’s gotten married?”

Stephen saying that a baby puffin is called a puffling gives a universally wholesome response from the audience.
Cal: “How many people now have a new nickname for their partner?”
Alan, confused: “For their PARTNER, you said? I got confused for a moment, I thought you said ‘for their penis.'”
Cal: “For some people, that is their partner.”
Cal may be a bit quainter than Rob and Phill, but she’s having no shortage of fun moments tonight.

Stephen, wrapping up that question: “Assuming you believe in evolution, like that, uh…what was the name of the naturalist onboard the beagle?”
Phill: “…Charles Darwin, you mean?”
Phill, outraged: “….OH *FRY!*”
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Stephen: “There was a naturalist onboard the beagle, and it wasn’t Charles Darwin. He was the….”

Stephen reveals that on one of the islands the beagle visited, during times of famine, people feasted on older women.
Phill: “MMMM-MMM! THAT’S SOME GOOD OLD LADY! I’ve got the GILF Cookbook!”

Stephen: “We travel to an exotic place where they had jackal-headed gods. Where would I be?”
Cal: “Egypt.”
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Alan and Stephen are amused by this.
Stephen: “I mean, you didn’t quite say that-”
Cal: “Right, I should probably say it correctly- WHAT, EGYPT, YA MEAN???”
Sad Phill didn’t pull this one for the umpteenth time, but Cal certainly made it work.

The third act of this show starts out with some interesting segments that aren’t necessarily funny, but have a lot of good Alan and Cal stuff, and are at least intriguing. Again, Phill and Rob are keeping mostly to themselves.

Stephen concludes the tidbit about JFK keeping a coconut from the island he visited during the war on his desk as a good luck charm by saying “…didn’t bring him MUCH luck.” Rob laughs OUT LOUD at this one.

Stephen says he can even remember where he was when the JFK assassination happened.
Stephen, laughing: “And a voice told me…”

Stephen tells a great anecdote about his mother telling him she was in the Dorchester hotel in NY the day Kennedy was shot, then performing there himself (with Hugh Laurie, Emma Thompson, and some bloke from some lager adverts who I may have covered on the blog mere months ago) the day Reagan was shot, and saying that no member of his family is allowed to set foot in the Dorchester ever again.
Phill: “Which is why, during W. Bush’s administration, Stephen dined at the Dorchester every night…”
After the applause dies down, Stephen straightens his tie and prepares to continue.
Phill: “Waiter? Any news?”

Stephen talks about this desert event, where people do a marathon each day
Alan: “People are weird, aren’t they?”
Stephen: “I know, I have a friend who does it. She does it twice.”
Cal: “Did she have to go back because she’d forgotten something?”

Phill mentions Eddie Izzard, and his penchant for marathons…and then goes into one of the most pitch-perfect Eddie impressions I’ve ever heard: “REALLY? Uhhhhhh…okAY. I’M GONNA DO….A HUNDRED ‘AN TWENTY…DESERT MARATHUNS…IN A WEEK. True story.”
I’d seen him do Eddie before, but even then it didn’t sound this good. Like…far from ‘ALLO, I’M NORMAN WISDOM’ are we, Phill?

Alan, on what Napoleon said to Josephine on his way back from a journey: “I SENSE A TRAP…the only thing I KNOW about Napoleon’s Josephine was he said…what was it, Rob?”
Rob’s reaction is priceless. He’s shocked, then sort of muddles his neck over, and goes, softly “…Phill?”
Phill, immediately: “Cal?”
Cal: “I’m gonna do it…I’m coming back! Don’t wash!”

Alan even says “I only know the other one [he said]…Rob, what’s it…?”

Stephen, wrapping up regulation: “Journey’s end…in lover’s meeting. [beat] that’s, uh, from Shakespeare.”

Phill does end up in fourth, thanks to all of the WELL WORDED klaxons he fell into. Alan wins consecutive shows for the first time since Series G.

Overall: This did run a bit short of my expectations, as the panel felt a bit fragmented, especially Rob, who was either quiet or selfish for most of the night. There were also a few too many lulls without many jokes. But when this show was on, it was pretty great. Cal Wilson was honestly the best connector of the three guests, and was in a wonderful mood all night, while Phill had some funny jokes, though his funniest moments involved being at the brunt end of some traps by the QI Elves. I’ll also say that not all of Phill’s jokes landed tonight, and he felt more like his Series A & B self, quieter, and only popping up for louder jokes. But with Cal and Alan on, some intriguing bits of the show, and…the aforementioned Klaxon attack (you mean), this was definitely a nice enough show.

MVP: Alan
Best Guest: Cal
Show Winner: Alan
Best QI Fact: Missing 300 years
Best Runner: What, ______ you mean?

QI Watchdown: I13 (Intelligence), or “MARGARET, GET THE CORNFLOUR!”

Again, many times in Series I, QI tried to recreate classic lineups while still trying to plug forward with newer comics. So this show, featuring PHILL JUPITUS, as well as David Mitchell and Jo Brand, is reminiscent of a Series C or D taping, which is good nostalgia. With four left to go in I, this Series still has momentum, but doesn’t have as many ‘WOW THAT’S AMAZING’ shows as the first half did.

Tonight’s buzzers, each in succession, form the famous theme to Mastermind, though I would have appreciated some dramatic spotlights, or a smirking Paul Merton in the background. Alan’s is, of course, ‘UHHHHHHH….PASS!”

Stephen asks a question he prefaces as being incredibly difficult, and discussed in many academic circles: “How do you get a goose interested in volleyball?”
Jo: “…I’d like to reply with the question ‘How do you get ANYONE interested in volleyball?”

Stephen: “Name an intelligent bird.”
Jo, waiting for her Mastermind buzzer to end: “…..me.”

Jo: “Not really, I’ve got a very low IQ.”
Stephen: “Oh, don’t believe that for a second…”
Jo: “It’s 83.”
Stephen: “…my god, you’re barely even human-”
Jo brushes this off, saying she’s kidding.

Phill has a nice point that crows are only perceived as evil because of the dark music that accompanies them. If you put on more fun music, and give them a sombrero, there’s a different effect. This is a very Series B-esque digression, too.

Stephen: “What was the first move the government made to assemble the boffins at Bletchley Park?”
Alan: “…singles bar.”

This episode is starting with less emphasis on humor and more emphasis on ‘isn’t that amazing?’. Stephen talks of Alan Turing’s death by poisoned apple, and that it was widely believed that Apple computers dedicated their logo, the apple with the bite taken out of it, to Turing.
Stephen: “I was actually in a position to ask one of Apple’s founders, Steve Jobs, about it, and he said ‘no, it isn’t true….but god, we wish it were.”

(I find it very ironic that all of this Alan Turing information would be made public a year or so later, with the release of The Imitation Game.)

Stephen: “How long does the perfect job interview last?”
Jo, after waiting for her buzzer to end: “…how long does a blowjob take?”
The place goes mad. Jo is so far killing it tonight.
Stephen: “The extraordinary thing is…the answer is exactly what I’ve got on my card, and it’s ‘TWELVE SECONDS!'”

Stephen: “Have you applied for a job?”
Jo: “Yeah, I applied for many. Never got any, though.”
Stephen: “Well, you got this one.”
Jo: “Right…because I slept with you, as you well know…”
Stephen: “only the best 12 seconds of my life.”

Stephen, listing some questions they’re not allowed to ask at job interviews, stumbles a bit: ‘Are you originally from the O.K.- sorry, UK-”
Phill: “Yeah, but if you’re interviewing for a cowboy, that’s a good question…”

Stephen discusses that people aren’t supposed to answer the ‘what are your weaknesses’ question with a subverted strength, but a mild weakness.
David: “‘I’m a terrible thief…I, just, I love other people’s stuff…”
Stephen: “I also can’t concentr-Oh look, there’s a squirrel!”
Phill: “What are your weaknesses? Heroin and masturbating, not necessarily in that order…”

Stephen: “What are your strengths?’ Ah, now don’t say-”
Alan: “odor, I’ve got a powerful odor…It’ll only get stronger as the day goes on…”

Phill, on other questions they might ask to test your wit, gives a solid Phill answer: “Will you be participating in ‘Take your Kestrel to Work Thursday’?”

Stephen, pulling out another ‘Ingenious Interlude’, says ‘I’ve been trying to get better at these little chemistry experiments.’ Again, they’d be a permanent fixture come Series J.

After this Interlude, where Stephen puts a corn-starch fluid on a speaker, and has it react to sound pressure.
Phill: “You have just ruined every speaker of every QI viewer…”
Stephen, trying to continue: “Isn’t that creepy?”

Halfway through the show, a robot appears with some drinks. Having watched this show for several series, I’m not even shocked anymore.

Stephen introduces the robot, Asimo, to the panel.
Alan, as Asimo’s internal monologue: “Here i am, brain the size of a planet…opening DOORS,,,”

Stephen: “Why don’t you show us what you can do?”
Asimo: “I would love to!”
Alan: “Is it gonna kill me?”

Asimo approaches the audience, after going down some stairs.
Stephen: “Now he’s gonna do something that nobody in the audience is going to believe.”

Stephen: “Well, I think it’s only fair that you get some points.”
Asimo: “Thanks…but what I’d really like is a dance with Jo.
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I will say that having Asimo and Jo doing some fun, funky dancing together is one of the most original, cool moments in the show’s history.

Alan, as Asimo departs: “I can’t help feeling…that he is heavily weaponized…”

As they discuss if Asimo had the right voice, Phill brings out a gruff, ‘allo’ voice that could also be taken as one of his many dialects from NMTB (“ALLO, I’M FROM BOTSWANA!”)

David: “I think it would have been more reassuring if its dancing was more robotic. I find its attempts to be human…tragic.”
Phill: “What I’d like to happen now, is for it to be like Jerry Springer and for the robot to come on, going “WHO. ARE YOU. CALLING. RUBBISH.” And then big blokes in QI black t-shirts have to pull it off of him. “GET. OFF. ME. YOU. SLAGS. HE WAS. ASKING. FOR IT.”
Alan: “I. WANT. A .DNA. TEST.”

Stephen, starting GI with a question from the job interview section: “How many piano tuners are their in the UK?”
Alan, frantically, grabs the Nobody Knows card.

Stephen: “On a clock face, how many times per day do the two hands overlap?”
David: “…Yeah, this is definitely a question to avoid answering at all costs..”

The behind screen for a new question has a blue sky, and clouds coming quickly.
Alan, without a choice: “….theeeee Siiiiimmmpsoooooonnnsss….”

Overall: Solid episode, boosted by some really interesting stuff, and great performances by Jo, Alan and Phill. David had a quieter show, and brought up the rear, but he still won the game. Jo had the best lines, Phill had some great moments, and everybody was able to collaborate on jokes. Plus, ASIMO’s appearances made the momentum grow even more. A truly nice one, even if it took a bit to get going.

Best Guest: Phill
Show Winner: David
Best QI Fact: Cornflour vibration
Best Runner: Asimo

QI Watchdown: I4 (Indecision), or ‘IT’S TRUE, GIRLFRIEND!’

So far, this season of QI has been more than making up for the quieter, less amusing Series H. Up next, we have a combination that’s never really failed on QI, and that’s Jimmy Carr, Phill Jupitus and Rich Hall. All 3 have carried funny episodes on their own, and all three are wholly capable of collaborating.

Right off the bat, Stephen asks why someone was thrown out of the Magic Circle.
Jimmy: “Was he using…REAL magic?”

Phill reveals the trick was ‘find the Lady’, or ‘3-card Monty’ as they call it in America.
Jimmy: “I rather prefer calling it ‘3-Card Monty’ myself, because…’Find the Lady’…I had a really bad experience in Thailand once…”
Stephen: “Did you feel a bit of a dick?”

Phill, on the ‘Find the Lady’ demonstration: “…right, you three put money on a card each, and I’ll stick this [hundred] in a lady’s knickers from the audience…”
Stephen: “That’s a whole different game. That’s a whole other lady to find.”
Phill, standing by it: “There’s a lady that’s put her hand up, Stephen…”
Stephen: “She put her hand up what?”
Phill: Screen Shot 2017-06-05 at 12.24.57 AM.png

During Stephen’s discussion on tossing, as he holds a wad of money up, someone from the audience sprints onstage, yells ‘AAAH!’, grabs the money and leaves, prompting an audible ‘what the fuck?’ from Stephen.
There’s a few beats where nobody really knows what to think.
Stephen, finally: “…I think somebody thought it was real money.”
Alan, to the audience: “I’M NOT IN ON THAT! I just want you all to know…”

Great moment: Stephen asks, in all earnest, who expected the Spanish Inquisition.
Jimmy: “Was it, uh…no.”
The fact is that they were all waiting to make the Monty Python reference…none of them actually did.

Screen Shot 2017-06-05 at 12.30.38 AM.pngJimmy: “Was it the Klu Klux Klan? Because those two fellows…”
Phill: “I’m sorry, I thought that was the Pet Shop Boys…”

Stephen: “The fact is that the Spanish Inquisition always gave you 30 days notice.”
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Stephen, trying to continue: “If you were selected to be-”
Phill, miming a phone call: “Hello, is there a Mr. Rabinowitz? Yeah, it’s the Inquisition here…HOW AAARE YOU…listen, we’re gonna come ’round and we’re gonna pull your balls through your mouth.”
Jimmy: “We’re in the area…but only for the next 30 days…”
Rich: “So ya had to wait around the house all day. They’d be there ‘between 8 and 5’…”
Stephen: “Yeah, ‘torture my neighbor, I won’t be in’…”

Rich guesses the Spanish Inquisition was started in 1483, which Stephen is dumbfounded by, as it’s shocking close.
Stephen: “Was that a guess?”
Rich: [starts dealing out the fake money from earlier.]

Stephen: “It’s actually 1478, but you’re 5 years off-”
Rich: “Well originally it was 5 years- they’d call you and say they were coming around within the next 5 years…”

In the audience tonight is a winner of the IgNobel Prize, a guy who did research on scrotal asymmetry.
Jimmy: “I’ve got an issue- maybe you could help, because you’re an expert…”
Chris: “Perhaps I should examine you afterwards, it’s probably easier…”
Jimmy: “I think I should explain- one of mine is bigger than the other two…”

Chris: “Usually the right one is higher, and the left one is lower…and that’s the normal way around…”
Rich: “wait a minute…”
Phill: Screen Shot 2017-06-05 at 12.43.33 AM.png
Stephen: “PHILL, IT’S OKAY…”

Chris brings up the Aristotelian theory that testicles were used as sort of ‘weights’ to lower voices in people.
Jimmy: “And that’s NOT the case?”
Phill: “THAT is why Barry White never ran marathons…”

Phill, noticing the mouse on the behind-screen: “I think…if I were to stage an all-mouse production of West Side Story…”

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Alan: “The way this is set up, though, it does look like the hippo’s slowly sneaking up on the mouse…”

Stephen: “What could an Irishman never be if he didn’t have nipples.”

Stephen asks what the tactic is to make the correct decision, and he gives a hint by taking a drink.
Phill: “Drink lots of water!”
Stephen: “Yes, so that in forty minutes’ time-”
Alan: “You’ll be in the loo and you won’t have to make the decision…”

Stephen confirms that people make their best decisions when they really have to go to the loo.
Phill, absolute disbelief: “SHUT UP! SHUT UP!”

Phill: “I think I’m gonna do Celebrity Mastermind now. Just 20 bottles of Evian before I go on…”
And he just starts writhing around, uncontrollably, in his seat, needing a wee.
Jimmy: “Red Orange Hitler- I’m trying to think what that would be the answer to…WHAT IS YOUR SPECIALIST SUBJECT???”
Phill, naturally: “…PAINTING!”

There’s a great moment that goes unnoticed by half the room. Stephen talks of twins that committed a robbery, and went unconvicted because police couldn’t tell them apart.
Jimmy: “What if they were conjoined twins?”
Alan, in the background: “If we get caught, split up!”
Phill laughs here, but Stephen’s explaining so nobody else really does.

There’s a discussion on Identity Parades, and Stephen brings up the money-thief from earlier, and SURE ENOUGH…
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Stephen: “Was it #1, Stealing Our Money
or #2, stealing our hearts…or is it just me?
#3, stealing himself for a spanking
or #4…stealing a format idea from Never Mind the Buzzcocks…”

Before Phill can even respond, Rich gets an idea:
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Stephen asks everyone to give who they thought the culprit was, and asks Phill to go first.
Jimmy: “This isn’t fair, Phill’s had much more experience in this game than any of us…PHILL’S BUILT A CAREER on this game…”
Alan: “…he knows which one is in the Kooks…”
Phill does laugh at this one.
Phill: “Just stick a bass-player in there for me…”

Stephen, post-ID Parade: “Shows it isn’t always useful having an ID Parade-”
Phill: “It is on a pop quiz…”
Rich: “I got it right, too! You know how I got it right? I wet my pants!”

Stephen, top of GI: “Who was the first person to go ’round the world in 80 days?”
Jimmy: “Michael Palin…”
Jimmy: “REALLLY?”

Stephen discloses it’s a real person, and that it’s not Phileas Fogg

I will say…I’m kind of disappointed that none of the panelists knew it was Nellie Bly because I knew that from a Hollywood Squares question.

Stephen, on finding the genitalia of chicks, phrases it as “in 1929, the Japanese finally found a way to sex chicks, and-”
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Stephen: “1927, at the World Poultry Congress in Ottawa, it was-”
Phil, in hysterics: “THE *WHAT?*”
Alan: “That is a LOT of chickens…”

Stephen says that may have been a very big gig at one point, and Jimmy says ‘I probably did the last 15 minutes of it one year without knowing it.”
Stephen: “We’ve all been there. I once did Phillips’ Small Appliances.”
Alan, taking this the exact wrong way: “Poor boy…”
Stephen: “It was a long time ago-”
Alan: “Leave his appliances alone!”
Stephen: “…which is why I won’t have him in the house anymore…”

Stephen: “And the Zen-Nippon Chicken Sexing School was founded…”
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Jimmy: “…and you’re looking at a graduate!”

Stephen, on sexing techniques: “You’re not going to like this- they do a slight squeeze-”
Alan: “And if they go ‘OW!’- GIRL.”
Jimmy: “and if they go…’steady on, mate’…”

Stephen: “In Norfolk, there is a community of Vietnamese Turkey Sexers…”
Stephen: “I’m sorry-”
Phill, miming a gun to his head: “WHAT SEXY CHICKEEEEENNN…YOU TELL ME NOWWWWW..”
Stephen: “I know it sounds-”
Alan: “They live in tunnels under the fence…”

It’s great- Stephen asks what direction the moon sets in, and I already know there are two running gags that could be in play here. Rich, thankfully, sets off one by going “which moon are we talking about here, Stephen…”
Rich turns around in awe.
Jimmy: “This show is getting TOUGH…”

I am very sad that when Stephen asks ‘where does the moon set’, Phill didn’t buzz in and go ‘IT’S NOT THERE!’ But at least we got a ‘Rich and Cruithne’ moment out of this.

Phill wins, and he’s absolutely flustered. He turns to Alan and goes “I don’t know how that happened. I have NO IDEA how that happened…”

Overall: Our 3rd A+ of the season, and we’re already four episodes in. Jesus, Series I is just THAT GOOD. The panel was even sharper than it’s been all series, with literally everyone jumping in at all times, even Rich, who acted like he did back in Series B tonight, even if he did bring up the rear in the edit. Jimmy also had a good night, but his jokes didn’t always hit. Alan and Phill were tremendous tonight, not only in giving some of the best lines of the show, but just having so much fun together, joking aside and helping each other out with jokes. You can tell Phill and Alan are quite friendly outside the show. A ton of moments, like the Chicken Sexing discussion, Rich bringing up Cruithne again, and Phill getting yet another ID Parade, truly stand out.

MVP: Alan
Best Guest: Phill
Show Winner: Phill
Best QI Fact: Chicken Sexing
Best Runner: Rich and the fake money.

QI Watchdown: H15 (Hypnosis, Hallucinations and Hysteria) or ‘NOT THERE. MIRAAAAAGE.’

A few future trends that started with this episode- titling an episode with three long concepts instead of just a single word, stacking Phill Jupitus as the only semi-regular on a panel of two occasionals, and having Ronni Ancona on the panel only to shortcharge her in the edit. Tonight’s episode also has a…special-ish guest- Robert Webb is here, in his only appearance.

Stephen talks about a disease that causes hydrosceles of the scrotum.
Alan: “makes your scrotum go into a triangle?”
Stephen: “…no that would be ISOSCELES…this is Hydrosceles…”

Stephen continues, that this man’s scrotum grew to 40 kilos, and he ended up using it as a writing desk, which gets a response from the audience.
Ronni: “That’s a good attitude to have!”
Phill: “Yeah, I’d get a sharpie and paint the face on the front of a spacehopper onto mine…”
Alan: “I’d make mine look like a hedgehog..”

Stephen says that this Scottish doctor used hypnosis to a success with this patient.
Phill: “Your eyyyes arre heavy. “NOT AS HEAVY AS ME TESTICLES!”

Stephen says that pain comes from the brain, and is basically information.
Rob: “I can imagine someone banging on my thumb, and going “IT’S JUST INFORMATION! IT’S JUST INFORMATION!”

Screen Shot 2017-01-26 at 11.04.03 PM.pngStephen: “There is a very small hammerhead shark…”
Alan: “That is a toy shark.”
Phill: “Or a REALLY big diver?”
Stephen: “a frighteningly big diver…”
Phill: “I think we’d have heard of HIM…”

Stephen says that chickens can be hypnotized by holding a stick with fake eyeballs on them to them, and they’ll stare.
Ronni: “You just made that up!”
Stephen: “It’s in all the books, all the-”
Rob: “What, in all the books?  All the chicken-hypnotizing books?”
Phill: “Which is why you must NEVER let your chickens watch The Muppets.”
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Stephen: “D’you know how you wake them up, rabbits and guinea pigs, if they’re in that state?”
Alan: “…you let the dog in.”

Stephen talks about how he hypnotized a lobster in Maine, and attempts it in the studio, saying “it won’t move a muscle.”
Phill cracks up. Stephen realizes the pun: “Oh, MUSSEL!”

Then Stephen brings up a dog that could hypnotize humans, “Oscar the Hypno-Dog.”

Screen Shot 2017-01-26 at 11.12.41 PM.png

Just looking at the dog cracks me (and Phill) up

Alan: “I’m feeling it now…I’ll go and get the biscuits.”
Stephen: “The thing is…he could keep up that stare with a human for hours on end-”
[Jupitus giggling]
Rob: “Depending on what human would WANT to be stared at for that long…”

Stephen says that life flashing before your eyes is a way of your brain trying to find a past memory that will help you survive.
Ronni: “It’s pretty risky, though, isn’t it? You’re on the brink of death, and you’re rerunning, and you’re going “NO, NOT MY FATHER’S 70TH BIRTHDAY!”
Stephen: “Or…if you lose your keys, just put your head facedown in the basin, and start drowning yourself, until you get to the point where you last had them.”

Ronni brings up a great point: “D’you think that…with rising crime, that death’s door has become more security conscious?”
She’s actually good in small doses, and has good comedic points, but sometimes she’ll flag for the spotlight, or something Stephen will cut her off before she gets going.

Stephen reveals that there’s a cat with a degree in psychotherapy.
Phill: “I think Oscar’s sitting opposite her!”

Screen Shot 2017-01-26 at 11.29.27 PM.png

(Phill does a quick Oscar impression)

Screen Shot 2017-01-26 at 11.31.44 PM.pngAlan: “Are those hats falling from the sky? Oh, there are hands beneath them.”
Stephen: “Yes, there are.”
Alan: “Is that how you get your hat? They’re dropped out of a plane, and you have to catch them?”
Phill: “I’d like to think that underneath that photo, there are about 60 cats…”

The next question involves Stephen being elected Pope, and…
Screen Shot 2017-01-26 at 11.41.11 PM.png

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(Phill’s reaction is mine)

Stephen mentions that the Subliminal Messaging thing was even used in the Young Ones.
Rob: “Goes back to my childhood…”
Ronni: “Your childhood???”
Rob: “Yes, Ronni. Deal with it.”

Phill actually talks about a Judas Priest song that, in backmasking, allegedly encouraged people to commit suicide.
Stephen: “Halford even said ‘I don’t wish to paint myself as greedy, but if we were gonna put a message in, it would have been ‘buy more of our records…’ I mean, he also said ‘DO IT’ doesn’t mean ‘kill yourself.”
Phill, chuckling: “Stephen, the song WAS called ‘suicide solution’…”
(As Youtube Commenters have revealed…it wasn’t, but still)
Phill, crossing over to Buzzcocks: “FINALLY, BEING IN A POP QUIZ PAYS OFF!”

Stephen, summing up the round: “So, subliminal advertising DOESN’T Stephenfryforpope WORK…”

Stephen: “In the Catholic church, it is a sin to be superstitious…”
Ronni: “You’ll change that when you’re pope, won’t you?”

On the sight question:
Stephen: “So, what about Hitler?”
Phill: “What ABOUT Hitler?”

And now, the most famous part of this episode:
Stephen asks the panel to pinpoint the exact point where the sun goes below the horizon. Everyone buzzes way too late.
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Stephen explains that after a certain point it’s just a mirage, and it’s much earlier…which infuriates the panel, including Phill.

Phill: “IIIIII….HATE THIS SHOW. BECAUSE…the sun…IS THERE. And you’re going [Stephen impression] “NOOO.” “It’s the SUN!” “NOT THERE…..MIRAAAAAAGGGGE.”

Alan explains that in New Zealand, the hot sun bouncing off the road in low-elevation can cause blindness.”
Phill: “I dare say that the drivers in New Zealand, as they see the sun setting, are REASSURED TO KNOWWW….THAT IT’S *NOT THERE*.”

Screen Shot 2017-01-27 at 12.07.41 AM.pngPhill just holds this expression as Stephen sums up the round. He’s absolutely heartbroken.

First Question of GI:
Stephen: “What shape is this staircase?”
Stephen: “NOW PHILL…”

Rob buzzes in just to guess ‘spiral’, and waves his hands in the air as the klaxon sounds. It’s almost like a Jo Brand reaction.

Stephen talks about ducks and their spiral genitalia.
Alan: “When they procreate, does it kinda spin in like a screw?”
Phill: “And, if push comes to shove, and you’re in Argentina with a bottle of Merlot…”

Stephen: “Not only that, but it has the longest penis, relative to its body size, of any vertebrae.”
Phill: “Do you know that, or did the duck tell you?”

Stephen goes further, that the duck has a brush on the end.
Phill: “WOW, You can clean up after!”
Alan: “Like a Dyson!”

Stephen: “What do you think the brush is for?”

Rob gets another Klaxon by guessing the Molotov fellow created the Molotov cocktail…and again, he’s ecstatic about. Rob didn’t do a ton in this episode, but his enthusiasm, and his ability to collaborate, was pretty damn amusing.
Alan: “He invented the…slow, comfortable screw against the wall?”

Rob actually gets last this episode, which is…odd, but unsurprising.

Even as Stephen announces that Phill has won (with -2), he’s still pissed about the sun. He’s shaking his head, going “I’m not happy…I’m not happy…”

Overall: Not as good as last week, but still a pretty enjoyable show, especially for a series with a ton of middle of the road episodes. Phill gave this one a major boost, with some Grade A stuff from him, the likes of which we’ve not seen in a little while, but Rob had a few nice moments, and while Ronni was shortchanged by Stephen and the edit, she did have some good lines here and there. Also, Alan was in a great mood, because he and Phill work insanely well together. Some great moments, definitely rewatchable.

MVP: Phill
Best Guest: Phill
Show Winner: Phill
Best QI Fact: Oscar the Hypno-Dog
Best Runner: IT’S NOT THERE.

QI Watchdown: H6 (Happiness)

How appropriate. An episode called ‘Happiness’, and a panel of three people that make me very happy indeed.

The show made a grand success last year by putting Phill and Andy together, and had a less applauded success by putting Phill and Rich together. No sign of an Andy-Rich combo, though.

Tonight’s episode-long runner concerns the audience ‘pleasure gauge’, like the ‘noise-o-meter’ at a sporting event. The meter hits its highest (with laughs), and somebody on the panel gets a bonus point.

Stephen: “What would make Britain a happier place?”
Andy: “Hope?”
Stephen: “The Pope?”
Andy: “No, HOPE, not the Pope!”
Stephen: “I was gonna say, that seemed odd.”
Alan: “I thought you said a GROPE!”
Stephen: “A grope of the Pope-”

Alan: “I think moving us slightly south in order to improve the weather would make us happier-”
Phill: “Could you do that by just putting an outboard motor on Aberdeen?”
Rich: “You’re never in the same latitude. Britain just keeps cruising the globe. Like Somali Pirates…”

Alan: “Give everyone the mental age of six…”
Andy: “Well, the media are working on that, aren’t they?”
Huge audience response.

Stephen: “I mean, six-year olds cry 70 or 80 times a day”
Alan: “Yeah, because they can’t go up and down stairs without falling. Whereas I can.”
Phill: “70 or 80 times- WHERE IS this lachrymose six year old??? What does Uncle Stephen do???”
Stephen: “I try to teach them Latin, I just…”
Alan: “‘not the british museum, agaaainn!”
Stephen: “…don’t…”

Stephen talks about the ‘Make Slough Happy’ campaign
Rich: “I think one of the important things would be to get rid of the name ‘Slough’.”
Stephen: “I fear you’re right. It’s not a very happy name, is it?”
Alan: “Yeah, change it to ‘YIPPEE!'”

Phill talks about trying not to laugh at a mine disaster in the Wanky Colliery
Rich: “It’s like a headline I read in Ireland once- ‘Cork Man Drowns'”
THAT is why Rich Hall is still hysterical. Heck, he even gets a bonus Pleasure Gauge point.
Rich: “You know what…his name was Bob. COME ON!”
Even more applause. At this point all the applause just annoys him.
Rich: “Well…I think I’ve won this. I’m not gonna answer another question.”

Stephen: ‘But how many real friends do you have?”
Rich: “Just one. James Taylor.”
Phill bursts out laughing.

Andy: “Four. Actually, I’m not sure about him. Because he once spiked my drinks and stole my trousers when I was…he’s coming off the list, yeah.”
Phill: “Which d’he do first?”
And Phill holds this jackass-like expression, just getting Andy’s goat.

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 12.53.30 AM

This exact jackass expression

Andy just looks at him and goes, like he’s an idiot, “drinks first, Phill”, and goes back to his notes. The Phill-Andy dynamic is actually a pretty good one, only touched on briefly in Gallimaufrey, when Andy stole Phill’s identity for a round.

Stephen: “How can you tell if a friend is really pleased to see you?”
Alan: “They will….be engorged…”
Stephen: “You know 150 people that become engorged at the sight of you?”
Alan: “I know THOUSANDS…”
Phill: “I know Alan well enough for a light twitch…”
Alan: ‘You’re not in my 150, bruv…”

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Stephen describes this set of photos from a guy trying to find sincerity in smiling by wiring people to smile when they didn’t want to.

Alan: “These are all the QI researchers. Bending over backwards for the show.”

Andy: “Second one from the bottom, he looks like the bloke’s coming in from a different side. He’s been surprised.”
Phill: “Actually, Andy, there is a third probe you can’t see…”

Phill: “I imagine they gave them names, like ‘Fifty Eight, I forgot my mother’s birthday!’ ‘Sixty One, left the gas on!'”
Alan: “That’s not ‘left the gas on’. That’s ‘trod on a cat and it’s died.'”

Stephen: “The Duchenne smile, with only the mouth and not the eyes, is known by people who study this as-”
Alan: “A Gordon Brown.”

On how there’s no tipping in Singapore: “There used to be signs in the little rickshaws and things that said ‘no tipping’.”
Phill: “That’s like something drunk students do. Rickshaw Tipping.”
And then…Stephen gives Phill this look.

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With a subtle little purr attached to it.

And then literally everyone looks at Stephen. Phill’s feeling kind of gratified.
Alan: “That came out out loud, Stephen.”
Stephen: “I’m sorry, I didn’t-”
Andy: “We were all thinking it, but you said it!”

Stephen: “Why was everybody in the world expected to die laughing in 1910?”
Andy: “Was Michael McIntire going on tour?”
Alan: “That IS Arthur Smith on the far right…”

Rich’s story of John McCririck falling out of a boat is a pretty nice one, especially the part where he just gets back in the boat and says “alright, where were we?”, like nothing happened.

Stephen: “So, the bees, they…suck on your misery.”
(Phill laughs)
Stephen: “What, don’t look at me like that!  It sounded rather poetic when it came into my head!”
Phill: “There’s your cue to make your first Heavy Metal album, and you have to call it…suck on my misery.”

The show’s sort of slowing down in the last half, but there’s still some great stuff going around.

Stephen asks what dictates a convincing laugh.
Alan, channeling Johnny Vegas: “Ice cube in the anus.”
Stephen: “….RIGHT. Yeah, that might do SOMETHING…”
Alan: “It’ll make you laugh. Try it later.”

Stephen: “What is the five-pound note made of?”
Alan: “….PAPER.”
Alan: “Let’s just get that one out of the way…”

Overall: Fell off toward the end, but overall a pretty nice episode. Only Andy really stood out, as Phill and Rich gave their usual performances with a few standout lines. Andy’s become very good at weathering a packed QI panel, and Alan had a much more prominent show than his last few.

MVP: Andy
Best Guest: Phill
Show Winner: Phill
Best QI Fact: Bentham’s Front Lawn

QI Watchdown: H1 (Hodge-Podge), or Toblerone-Rolo Combo

Onto yet another Series of QI, the H series, featuring some definite flux in how the show goes, and who gets the reins of semi-reg-ship. Tonight has two people we’ve seen before, Phill Jupitus and Jack Dee, and one person we’re going to see dozens of times down the stretch, Ross Noble.

The buzzers are all ‘hello’ bells of some sort. Ross’s is a retread of Alan’s ‘RING-A-DING-RING-A-DING’ buzzer from a few X-Mas shows ago. Alan’s is just a Klaxon, which gives him a -10 right off the bat.

The very first question of the show concerns people with long hair, so the behind-screen shows two pictures of Ross bordering a photo of a woman’s legs and skirt, with a sad banked right between the legs. Ross even goes “the sad part is I’m wearing the exact same shirt.”
Jack: “I’ve gotta hand it to you Ross, you’ve got lovely legs.”
Ross: “Oddly enough, that suppository was the oddest shaped one I’ve ever used…”

Stephen: “The full question is why do bankers like long-haired men and short-skirted women?”
Phill: “bi-curious.”

Stephen: “What do bankers want more than anything else?”
Stephen: “And when do bankers make the most money?”
Jack: “Summertime?”
Alan: “In the 60’s?”

Stephen: “What starts with H and means you’ll always be the bridesmaid and never the bride?”
Phill: “Hepatitis C?”
Stephen, composing himself: “Oddly enough, you’re surprisingly close in a kind of way…”
Phill: “Herpes.”
Stephen: “You’ve got the right first and last letter.”
Jack: “Halitosis?”
Stephen: “Yes, that’s the right answer.”
Jack: “Is that right? I could have come up with that and gotten a laugh in the first place…”

On the conversation about breath ailments
Alan: “I had a picture taken once with a koala…”
Ross: “You could just leave that there…”

The whole conversation on koala’s breaths, how people can suck on Koalas if they’re suffering from asthma, is hysterical, because everyone on the panel is joining in, even Jack. It helps that Ross and Phill are so great at connecting people’s jokes.

Jack, voicing his disgust on the left-handed pencil sharpener: “They should have adapted when they were younger..Like, what’s wrong with having a stutter?”
Stephen: “It’s not a condition, being left-handed…”
Jack: “Well, you SAY that…”

Jack next gets the left-handed can opener, and he’s still really pissed off, and tries to open a can, right-handed, and just puts it down.
Ross: “The only thing that could annoy jack more now is if he opens that can, and it’s all left-handed peaches.”
Man, Ross’s humor is just the right kind of lovable absurdist.

Ross gets a question right about motorcycles and cameras, and he dodges a klaxon and gets points. After he’s graciously thanking people for the applause, he goes, perfect “I’d just like to point out…that is the only thing I know. And as you started to say that, in my mind I was going “…I know what he’s going to say here…I can use me one bit of knowledge.”

Stephen asks for what kind of gun his german word means. Someone from the audience shouts out “assault rifle”, which is correct.
Jack: “Uh, that was slightly scary there, wasn’t it?”
Alan: “Yeah, you know you said that out loud. You didn’t think about it…”
Alan, holding up the can of peaches: “Ah’ve got hundreds of these as well…”

Stephen reads out the Urban Dictionary definition for ‘hoplophobe’, which is the liberal fear of weapons, and has words such as “sissy” in it.
Phill, pointing to the guy in the audience: “I’ll tell you something…he wrote that.”
Ross: “I tell you what, I bet he wrote it with a left-handed pen.”

Alan goes over to the assault rifle, to try to set it up over the desk, but Stephen says that he’s the only one in the studio allowed to touch the rifle.
Ross: “I love the fact that somewhere there’s a memo that just says: “MACHINE GUN; FOR STEPHEN FRY’S USE ONLY.”

Stephen talks about bomb defusers using silly string to test the trip-wires.
Phill: “It’s nice that that’s a real thing, but I just prefer them leaning over a bomb going [party whistle noise]”
Alan: “With a Margaret Thatcher mask and a rubber chicken…”
Ross: “I have to say…that would have improved that film the Hurt Locker…”

Jack, on the ’round drill doing a square shape’ question, gives an answer that narrowly dodges a klaxon, even though it is wrong.
Ross: “That would have been brilliant, if it had gone ‘WOOP-WOOP-WOOP’, and EVERY WORD YOU SAID…was up there.”
Stephen: “ONE DAY!”

Stephen describes ‘a circular triangle’ that can be used to make a square shape.
Ross, confused: “A circular triangle??”
Phill: “Oh, no no no. This is your first time. This sort of thing happens ALL THE TIME on this show. [Stephen voice] IT’S A SORT OF CIRCULAR TRIANGLE…”
Alan: “And it makes a square…”

Ross: “It’s not the fact that I’m boggled by that…it’s the fact that I now realize that there’s a possibility that you could have a Toblerone-Rolo combo! A Roblerone!”
Stephen: “D’you know what will freak you out completely, Ross Noble? The name for this form of triangle is a Rolo.”
Phill: “You know the fact that we come on this show, and discover things? I feel like tonight is that I’ve just discovered that the best three words to hear in a Geordie accent is ‘toblerone rolo combo.’
Ross: “THANKS. Now everyone I meet’s gonna go ‘could you say Toblerone please? Poor Geordie man, dance for us.’
Phill: “You’ve got to form a band now, called THAT.”
Ross: “Alright, me and Cheryl Cole. Her, me, and Jimmy Neil.”
Jack: “And maybe I’ll play the trombone.”

After Alan masters the round peg-square hole: “Let me play with the gun! I want to play with the gun that shoots ’round corners!”
Stephen: “No, you can’t play with the gun.”
Alan: “Special instructors don’t let Alan play with the gun…”
Phill: “Police in London were BAFFLED tonight by a series of murders committed ’round corners.”

Stephen: “What is the roundest thing in the universe.”
Phill, raising his hand: “Just saying…”

Phill: “The earth is…thingy…it’s not round.”
Stephen: “No, it’s not round, it’s an…oblique spheroid.”
Phill: “WHOA NELLY FURTADO! He’s got a word for EVERYTHING.”

Alan, about the neutron star: “They’re really round.”
Phill, noticing a definitely-not-round object on the behind-screen: “THAT’S NOT *ROUND!*”
Stephen: “That’s a supernova I think-”
Stephen: “He’s very upset, aren’t you?”
Phill: ‘YES!!”

Stephen: “It’s only got a diameter of 15 miles or so, and there isn’t one near enough that you can see it-”
Jack: “Y’ever notice how we always have to take Stephen’s word for it?”

Stephen: “If I had a thimble-full of neutron star, it would weigh more than a mountain.”
Phill: ‘YEAH, BUT YOU *DON’T*.”

Stephen: “What’s made entirely of jelly and lives forever?”
Phill: “Shark-infested custard- WRONG JOKE.”

Stephen: “After it sexes- no, after it-”
Stephen: “Sorry…after it’s HAD SEX.”
Alan: “I have sex.”
Alan: “I can’t talk now, I’m sexing.”

Phill: “Monkey glands? Royal jelly?”
Stephen: “Monkey glands, and what do they MEAN by monkey glands.”
Phill, a la Stephen: “THE GLANDS….OF A MONKEY.”

Stephen: “They weren’t glands, actually, they were testicles.”
Phill: “Av…NO!”
Stephen: “They started as human testicles I’m sorry to say.”
Ross: “If you were to scale them up to the size of the earth…they’d take HOURS to scratch.”

The conversation they have about pirates at the bank, I didn’t write all of it down, but it’s fantastic, and everyone’s getting in on it.

Stephen: “There’s an International Talk Like a Pirate day, isn’t there?”
Jack: “Yeah, but Somalian.”

Overall: A wonderfully perfect opener to Series H. All four panelists were on and willing to collaborate, which is a rarity these days. Phill had the best night of the four, but Ross was wonderful and bizarre in his debut, making me very excited to see more episodes of his. Jack was more talkative than he’s ever been on QI, and was more willing to branch out and collaborate jokes. A ton of great moments, and a definite rewatch value.

MVP: Phill
Best Guest: Ross
Show Winner: Jack
Best QI Fact: Monkey testicles
Best Runner: Sexing

QI Watchdown: G14 (Greeks)

Because there’s such an emphasis on mixing semi-regs with newcomers, there aren’t a ton of repeat panel combinations on QI, but tonight is a combination we have seen before, way back in Series B, in the Bombs episode, which was one of the funniest, in my opinion, that series.

Now, Clive Anderson, Rich Hall and Phill Jupitus, as the former two were beginning to phase out of their QI semi-reg days, reunite for one more episode, this one concerning Greece.

Phill, on Stephen’s question about wealthy Athenians purchasing ships: “Well, if you were rich, did you have to-”
He then realizes there is indeed a Rich sitting next to him, and a golden opportunity.
Phill: “Not if you were Rich, because that would…Have you ever funded the greek navy?”
Rich: “I have never funded the Greek navy, not to my knowledge, no, but if history has taught us anything, it’s that I should’ve.”

Stephen reveals the origin of a Roman orgy came to describing a dinner party.
Rich: “There was also stuff for kids, at an orgy. It wasn’t all just adults. What, a petting zoo?”

Stephen: “What else do we know about the Spartans?”
Alan: “They were really good in that film, 300. Very erotic. Quite camp, actually.”
Stephen: “Very camp. Oddly enough, it could have been much camper, because in the actual historical fact, those 300 spartans were accompanied by 700 thespians!”

Stephen describes how the Spartans beat the Athenians, how they weren’t in favor of math, science, the arts, and just in favor of war, how much of a travesty that was.
Stephen: “It’s a bit like if the Klingons beat the Vulcans, in the world of Star Trek.”
Alan: “That would be AWFUL.”

Stephen: “Do you know the word Laconic?”

Stephen: “Athens sent a message to Sparta, they said “if we beat you, we will not spare your children, we will destroy your civilization, we will kill everybody, we will spare no one.” The Spartans sent back a one-word reply.”
Alan: “Bothered.”
Stephen: “No. Similar…”

Stephen: “He won the gold medal for poetry.”
Phill, not buying it: “SSSHHHUT UP…”
Stephen: “OH, YOU THINK THAT’S WEIRD? All the way up to 1948, there was a gold medal for town planning in the Olympics.”
Clive: “Won by Milton Keynes.”
Stephen: “LOST by Milton Keynes, you would imagine…”

Stephen mentions that sculpture was also an early Olympic competition.

Stephen: “Who knows what Olympic Gold Medals are made of…”
[silence for give seconds]
Alan: “They might be…partially…”

Eventually Alan just says “gold, they’re made of gold.”
Stephen: “OH, BLESS YOU…”
Phill: “Hang on, I think they might have another one in there…CHOCOLATE!”

Clive: “Why are they so big. Like, they used to be smaller-”
Phill, looking at the ones on the behind-screen: “THEY’RE NOT ACTUAL SIZE, CLIVE.”

Stephen: ‘If it left a mark, it wasn’t gold.”
Phill, over-serious version of what Stephen just said: “and if you were eating lead, you would…DIE.”
Alan, remembering an old QI fact: “But there’s no lead in pencils…”

Alan, on Greek plate-throwing: “I can remember when I was on holiday, but there were too restaurants, one with plate throwing, and one there wasn’t.”
Clive: “Camden, then…”
Alan: “It was the main choice you made of an evening. Plate-throwing or not-plate-throwing? And you sit in the quiet one, having a nice quiet meal, and about half-ten you can hear them kick off..”

Stephen: “Nowadays it tends to be something softer…”
Alan, serious: “Women.”
Stephen literally has to stop to compose himself. It’s ridiculous.
Stephen: “I don’t even know where to begin with that one.”
Alan: “Obviously not the best women, the second…”
And then he mimes throwing a woman across the room, which made me laugh hard.

Stephen: ‘Because I can say that Alan is coming in last.”
Alan: “It’s one of my best features…”

Overall: Fairly strong show with great moments, though the slow parts in the middle detract from its greatness a bit. Panel was on, and Phill, Rich and Clive interacted like their S2 selves, with a lot of teamwork and good gags. Alan was also really fun tonight. It was just strong in the beginning and ending, and couldn’t keep the momentum going all throughout.

MVP: Phill
Best Guest: Phill
Show Winner: Clive
Best QI Fact: Naked gym

QI Watchdown: G9 (Gallimaufrey), or VHERE IS YOUR LICENSE??

I just walked right into a QI miracle. I just got out of one of the funnier QIs in a WHILE (Germany), and now we’re going into an episode with PHILL…and ANDY HAMILTON (who doesn’t appear enough!)…and HUGH DENNIS! Three people who’ve been really great on this program before…and hopefully they can combine for an even bigger one.

I mean, sadly, this is Hugh’s last QI, but he only did two so it’s not too big of a loss. Besides, his protege Chris Addison will be here soon enough.

Hugh is intro’d as the ‘gauche-gutted Hugh Dennis’. He smiles, and then turns to Andy and goes ‘what does that mean??’

Phill’s buzzer is a very light horn-and-string piece…so of course he starts head-banging to it. Alan’s buzzer is, for some reason, George Formby.

Stephen: “I called you gravy-eyed. What do you think that means?”
Hugh, taking the literal approach: ‘Eyes like gravy?”

The very first round is a Call My Bluff of Georgian slang. Andy immediately goes ‘please don’t do it like Robert Robinson, or I’m walking off.’
Stephen, as Robinson: “A Gentleman of Three Outs. What can it mean? AANDY HAS THE AAANSWER.”

Andy says it’s a person “without money, without wit, and without manners.”
Stephen: “So it’s sort of like a Piers Morgan of the 18th century?”
Andy: “Before he got rich, yes.”

Alan says it best about the Call my Bluff: “Why are we playing Call My Bluff? It’s a shit game. WE’VE INVENTED A REALLY GOOD GAME, and here we are playing a shit game! On Call My Bluff, they’re busy playing QI and they’re having a RIOT!”

Phill’s CMB anecdote, of an out-of-work actor getting really, really into his bluff in an effort to get work, is really wonderful, and proves how great Phill is on this show.

Stephen says the Captain filled the whole tub with sewage-
Alan: “And then left it. Like the hotel bathroom.”
Stephen: “It vas like dat when I got zere, ya ya…”
Alan: “Don’t go in dat vun, my goddd..”

Stephen said he’d been at boarding school and have a raid to the kitchen to steal some of the jelly.
Alan: “That they left out especially for the ones that were gonna raid the kitchen…’the kids have been raiding the kitchen again. better leave some jelly out.”

Hugh: ‘If people do get up very early, they will justify that by saying “Best Part of the Day!” You think, ‘it’s not, it’s just PART of the day…I see it another bit of the day…”

Surprisingly this is a very Andy-led show, which is weird, because Andy is usually the guy that sits back and lets the others go. Phill is giving a ton of stuff, as is Hugh, but there’s a lot coming from Andy, and the episode’s reflecting that.

All four have to guess each other’s handwriting in one bit. However, Phill made it very easy by writing, in his, ‘Hello, My name is Phill Jupitus.’
Stephen: ‘I wonder who that could be…”

Hugh, who clearly doesn’t remember his last time on: “May I ask why [in that photo] am I wearing a beret?”

The ‘Phill’ one ends up being Andy, and it’s really, really good handwriting. Hugh gets it because of all the stuff he’s been scribbling on his scripts.

It’s weird, because I thought the ‘Points of View’ one, that turns out to be Alan, was Hugh’s, because I know how often the ‘Points of View’ topic comes up on ‘Scenes we’d like to see’ (Frankie Boyle’s “DEAH POINTS OF VIEW, I’D LIKE TO COMPLAIN ABOUT THE WEIRD ACCENT YOU’RE READING MY LETTAH IN???”)

Phill is asked how he knew it was Alan’s.
Phill: “I just thought…that looks like Alan wrote it…which is the only way you can play this game…”

Stephen, evaluating: “Close lettering is…unstable, I’m afraid.”
Alan, justifying: “There wasn’t much room on the paper!”

Stephen: “The Goldilocks effect is used in business. You set a price on something.”
Phill: “And then you set three bears on them.”

Stephen: “Who had the first-ever driving license?”
Alan: “The queen.”
Stephen: “You couldn’t be wrongerer. The queen has no need for a license, though she drives.”
Phill: “So what does she show the person at Blockbuster’s then, to prove her address, then?”
Stephen: “A 20 pound note.”

Hugh says that Karl Benz had the first-ever driving license.
Alan: “He just made one for himself. “I ZHINK I NEED A LICENSE?? Into sis MACHINE…ZIZ LICENSE TO DRIVE…zhere, I can drive.”
Phill: “Now you’re License #1.”
Andy: “I bet the first thing he did when he got on the road was stop the next bloke and go “VHERE IS YOUR LICENSE???”

Stephen talks of the Steamboiler Supervision Association that started making licenses.
Alan, same German voice: “ZE S.S……*A.*”

Stephen: “Until the 14th of May, 2002-”
Alan: “He was still doing it. “NUMBER ONE MILLION ONE THOUSAND…”

Stephen: “If I can see a black-and-white film, I can see which side the light’s coming from.”
Alan: “Yes, but not in the DARK, Stephen. Sometimes you are relying on the color, let’s face it…”
Stephen: “Yes, you’re right-”
Andy: “I mean, don’t argue, because that is what the terrorists want…”

Hugh, on why birds go south for the winter: “I think it’s because of the warmth.”
Stephen: “Yes, but what is the advantage of the warmth?”
Hugh, practical: “WELL…YA FEEL NICER??”

Stephen: “What happened to the Snail Telegram, or Snail Telegraph?”
(photo of a snail sitting on top of a telegraph.)
Andy: “That’s…that’s not it, is it??”

Stephen talks about the snail telegraph system, and “amazingly he got someone to invest in it.”
Hugh: “And that, gentlemen, is how we cracked the Enigma Code.”

Stephen: ‘Take a child and give them a really sugary drink. What happens?”
Alan: “I haven’t got any kids. I’ve no idea.”

There’s a photo of a very darkly-furred monkey. Alan, without missing a beat, goes “that’s Russell Brand.”

Phill winces after hearing he’s got -17. He has a full facial reaction, too.

Overall: Another really nice show, with all four players doing some really solid stuff. Phill was back to mowing down jokes like usual, after a down show a few episodes ago, and Hugh had another toward-the-background show, though still really funny. Andy, however, was the real revelation- he dominated this show, having some of the best jokes, and feeling like he’d anchored shows before. It was really something special.

MVP: Andy
Best Guest: Phill
Show Winner: Hugh
Best QI Fact: Snail Telegraph
Best Runner: Hugh’s feminine side, or VHERE IS YOUR LICENSE???

QI Watchdown: G3 (Games)

Three episodes into an already-solid season, and we’ve already met with our first Phill episode of the season, as well as our second Sean episode in a row, so, if anything, this will be a fairly ridiculous ordeal. Additionally, we have a return appearance from Liza Tarbuck, who hasn’t appeared since that episode where Jeremy Clarkson made some stuffed dogs screw.

Phill’s got a Boston Red Sox pin. Again, trying not to hold is against him.

Phill’s buzzer is the usual ‘Gladiators Ready’ yell, which seems to puzzle him. Sean’s is just a very long arena buzzer…which also seems to confuse him. Liza’s is GOOOOOAAAAALLL. Alan’s is a less-than-triumphant ‘good game’.

The first scenario is one where Sean, Alan and Phill all have to truel for Liza, and Alan is asked which one, of the other two he should shoot, if he has 10% accuracy.
Alan: “Shoot m’self.”
Sean: “Hang on…I’d shoot Liza.”
Stephen: “What, then you’d have a gay three-way?”

Stephen, on John Nash, says he suffered the horrible effects of being played by Russell Crowe in a film.
Liza: “Gladiator?”

Phill: “Is the Ouija board really a game? I never remember any Ouija scenes in a film, and at the end, going ‘right, who won?”

Stephen says that Ouija boards were for contacting a part of oneselves.
Alan: “Dead people just joined in. They thought ‘this is the one for us.’

Phill: “Are some dead people trying to communicate with the living through Monopoly?”
Goddammit, Phill. How I missed you.

Sean, on Ouija board: “Where the competitive element?”
Alan: “You contact dead people…have a go…”
Sean: “Or you contact dead people…and they box.”
Alan: “And then they tell you how it went…”
Sean: “Ghost boxing! (a la Ghostbusters) GHOST-BOXING! On SkySports 2!”
Alan: “You see people in sheets, going” (and then he motions people flailing arms around in sheets)

Stephen: “During the American Civil War, who were the Scallywags?”
Phill: “I’m fairly sure it wasn’t the S.S.”
Stephen: “Well, that’s the odd thing-”
Phill: “IT’S THE S.S.??”
Stephen: “No.”

So far, very weak episode. Just failing to get off the ground. Liza’s not doing much, the jokes aren’t holding the momentum, and it’s just not holding my attention.

Stephen: “What kind of contest might end in either a checkmate or a knockout.”
Sean: “Well, choxing.”

Sean: “You could do that with other sports, couldn’t you?”
Stephen: “Like, go on then…”
Sean, trying to think of one: “…well……Chugby!”
Alan: “Darts and swimming…SWARTS!”

Stephen: “How do you win money from a casino?”
Liza: “Magnets!”
Alan: “Counting Cards!”
Phill: Prostitution!”

Liza ends up winning, which we may have seen coming.

Overall: There were some moments of insanity, but overall this was a dull show that couldn’t get things moving. Sure, the Sean-Phill dynamic was extra fun this week, and some of the questions brought up good quick answers, but there weren’t any bits that transcended the momentary ‘ha-ha’. Phill, meanwhile, was back to his Series E days of not especially doing much. Thankfully, Sean Lock was not, providing some of the best moments this episode.

MVP: Sean
Best Guest: Sean
Show Winner: Liza
Best QI Fact: vegan gladiators

QI Watchdown: F7 (Fingers & Fumbs), or ‘JUST DO A STONE!’

Now, I could be mistaken, but we might be in for a really, really good one.

Not just because of the panel. Having Phill, Dara and Jo on their own is good enough, but TOGETHER? THAT’S MAD. No, I’m excited because I’ve seen a lot of clips from this one in best of’s, and I’ve been very excited for this one, because it looks to be one of the funnier episodes around. Plus, it’s a spiritual sequel to Eyes-and-Ears, topic-wise.

The buzzers are all body-part-themed songs. Phill’s is ‘Twenty Tiny Fingers’, which confuses him, as he looks at his fingers. Dara’s, which never ceases to crack me up is, ‘Knee Bone’s Connected to the…’, and as he hears it, he changes to a joyful facial expression, bobs along for a few bars, and then returns to his dissatisfied look. Jo’s is ‘Shattapa You Face’, which Stephen even catches himself singing along to.

Stephen: “Now, there is a forfeit. If you use a particular f-word during any stage of this eveni-”

Stephen mentions that anytime someone gets a forfeit, they have a chance to go double-or-nothing in a game of rock-paper-scissors.

Stephen: “What’s the best opening move for paper-scissors-stone?”
Dara: “Say…’you go first!”
Jo: “Is it having a real rock?”

And then Jo has an answer that Frankie Boyle would applaud: “Make sure you play with a Saudi shoplifter. Because they could only do rock, couldn’t they?”
Phill: “That’s it. Avoid doing it with Abu Hamza.”
Dara: “Abu Hamza can’t do that. Abu Hamza can only do a question mark. ROCK! PAPER! QUIZZICAL EXPRESSION!”
Stephen: “He can do, quizzical expression, corkscrew, or thing for digging stones out of horses’ hooves.”
Phill: “He’s not a swiss army…cleric.”

Stephen says that in India and Indonesia they do R-P-S with animals.
Phill: “Right, so they play…Elephant…Cow-”
Stephen: ‘No.”
Phill: ‘Elephant, kestral.”
Dara: “KESTRAL? Does the kestrel carry off the elephant or does the elephant eat the kestrel?”
Phill: ‘Elephant…covers kestral. Kestral eats ant.”

Stephen instructs Dara and Phill to put the pencil sideways between their teeth. Phill gives a line that made me lose it for a few seconds. “Would you rather we had a ball gag, Stephen?”
And then continues, “it all started, innocently enough, with pencils. They all woke up…in Dortmund four days later”, and he mimes being tied up with the pencil in his mouth.

Stephen: “They did a test where people held the pencils like [Phill and Dara], which makes you smile.”
Dara: “It’s not making me fookin’ smile.”

Dara and Stephen square off and end in a draw for the second time of the night. Alan, exasperated and still muffled, goes “SOMEBODY THROW A ROCK!”

The entire sequence with the pencils in the mouths made me laugh very hard. There was just something so amusing about the whole thing. Even better, Phill continued to keep the pencil in after Stephen said to take them out, saying “LET’S SEE HOW THIS WHOLE SERIES GOES WITH PENCILS IN OUR MOUTHS!”

On the ‘kisses in France’ question, they put up a map of the French area, and it says in different areas how many kisses on the cheek are customary. Phill, on a roll, goes “and now, the snogging forecast…”

Stephen: “What can you tell about a footballer from the size of his fingers?”
Jo: “Is it his position on the wag-penetration index?”

Stephen talks of a guy who researched the science of the middle two fingers.
Phill, calling back to an earlier joke: “Did he take the duck into the echo chamber?”
Alan: “that sounds so much like a euphemism I don’t even…’Is this the key for taking the duck into the echo chamber?”

Great Jo moment. As Phill is answering a question there’s a sound coming from Jo’s desk. They turn over and she’s already having water. The panel is confused. She goes “sorry, I just coughed and sneezed…and wet m’self at the same time.”

Conversation on dreams:
Alan: “I was…on a boat…with Elvis Presley.”
Dara: “….oh, this is in a dream! Ah, go on. Sorry.”

There’s a great moment when both Phill and Dara start doing Elvis impressions telling Alan to wake up. Phill goes “stop peein’ on yourself, Alan.”

Phill, on Elvis: “There’s always that moment where he’s on stage that you could tell [he was shitting himself], going “we’ll have…a…BLLUUEE….Christmas…WWWWITHOUT-YOU!”

Stephen asks what would make someone think that Alan is a criminal.
Jo: “is it the shifty little eyes, pointy nose, and general sort of little pug face?”
And after that, Jo literally falls over laughing, as Alan sort of laughs a bit at himself, but peers over at Jo in confusion. Alan goes “I’ve never seen you happier”, as Jo continues to flail about cracking up.

Jo’s Aristotle description has the word ‘venerous’ in it, “as in venerial.” Alan turns to her and goes “HAHA!”

Literally all four are bouncing off of each other, which tends to happen with a panel of people who’ve worked together. phill is obviously having the best night, but is aiding other jokes and wrangling other panelists in.

Phill does this whole Shakespearean verse about the duck in the echo chamber, which is hysterical…only Stephen tells him he mistook a dost for a doth. And he gets all antsy about it. Phill goes “English Lit- U. English Language C. Good fucking luck, my friend.”
And already, Phill has his fist out and ready.

Once again they both get scissors. Alan, even more frustrated now, yells “DO A STONE!!!”

Stephen: “How would you describe the famous Thatcher effect?”
Phill: ‘Yes. You get the country to bend over…and you give it one until its eyes water.”

Jo on Thatcher: “It was great when she became Lady Thatcher, because she sounded like a device made for removing pubic hair.”

Stephen reveals that the upside down pictures of Thatcher were really inverted right-side up, which frightens Phill, to the extent where he points to the photo and yells “BUUUUUURN THE WITCH!!!”

They do the same photo effect to Alan, to which Dara goes ‘that’s a face you wouldn’t want to see after a 69, eh?”

There’s a great bit where Stephen says “JEEEEEEEESUS’, after the conversation about seeing faces in things (not to be confused with Sean’s ‘JEEEAAAAMMMM!”) And then he goes on about sacrilege.
Phill: “You make Richard Dawkins look like a fuckin’ Buddhist.”

Phill finally wins a battle because Stephen picks paper. Alan’s reaction is great. He’s like “finally!”

Stephen: “What use did [David] have for 200 foreskins?”
Jo: “Who cares, it’s a feminist’s dream?”
Phill: “He deep-fried them and invented hula-hoops.”

Stephen: “Where would you find the world’s largest organ?”
Alan: “In a cathedral like St. Peter’s in Rome, or (reaching) somewhere, like Seville”
Stephen: “Good answer, but not the correct one-”
Alan (out of options): “A blue whale!”
Stephen puts his head in his hands, nearly ashamed.

Phill: ‘Rik Wakeman’s house.”

Alan: ‘Then why do people think that your cock has to do with your foot size?”
Phill: “It was a rumor started by clowns. ”

Stephen: ‘Now, how many muscles are there, incidentally, in your fingers?”
Phill: “One if you play your cards right”(wink)

AS IF THAT LINE WERE NOT ENOUGH, as the audience (and Stephen) rebound from that joke, Phill puts the pencil back in his mouth and looks at Stephen, flirtatiously. It’s the funniest thing I’ve seen on this show in a while.

Alan tries smiling and frowning at the same time, saying “I’M USING 23 MUSCLES!” he then flips off the other side of the panel and says “STILL 23!”

Once Alan goes “fuck off” and gets his klaxon, the whole panel starts buzzing. “PLACE YOUR BETS!” goes phill. Dara goes “He’s been talking stone all night, you think it’s gonna be stone?”

You know it’s been a hell of an episode when Stephen starts the scores with “In first place…with -24….”

Phill wins, which is pretty great, as I did not see it coming. Alan loses, which you could have called at the beginning.

Overall: An episode that undoubtedly belongs in the QI Hall of Fame. Smashing performances all around, great teamwork from all four, great lines from Dara and Jo, and, most importantly, the quintessential Phill Jupitus performance. From flirting with Stephen to yelling with a pencil in his mouth to arguing grammar with a Shakespeare scholar, the man was unstoppable tonight, and proved why he’s the King of QI.

MVP: Phill
Best Guest: Phill
Show Winner: Phill
Best QI Fact: the duck in the echo chamber.