QI Watchdown: I1 (I-Spy)

It’s been a while since I’ve done a QI episode, so I might as well FINALLY get onto Series I, which has been described as the ‘last of the Golden Age’. To be honest, I don’t know how the dynamic’s going to be tonight- on one hand, you have Lee Mack, who’ll probably keep the panel in disarray, and on the other, you have Sandi Toksvig, who’ll try to keep the panel in order. And then you have Jimmy Carr ebbing and flowing in between. Interesting to see how it goes.

Alan’s back to his James-May-esque long hair in this episode.

The buzzers are actually pretty amusing:
Sandi: a sexy ‘aye, aye…”
Jimmy: a captain’s ‘AYE, AYE!”
Lee: a German “AY YI YI YI YIIIEEE”
Alan: “I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts…”

Also new this season is our first big season-long runner since the Elephant card, which is the Nobody Knows card- once per episode, there will be a question that legitimately has no recorded answer, and they’ll play the card at that point.

Stephen asks for the difference between an Ai and an Ai-Ai. Sandi correctly says that it’s a sloth, but Stephen asks for what an Ai-Ai is-
Jimmy: “…Two sloths?”

Stephen reports that the Ai only comes down from its tree to defecate.
Jimmy: “Surely the whole benefit of living in a tree is you can just…”
Stephen: “…poo on whomever you’d like?”
Lee: “Maybe they’ve got a downstairs toilet?”
Alan: “Yeah, once you’ve had it put in, you’ll want to use it…”

Sandi inches closer by guessing it’s a Lemur.
Stephen: “Right, which means it can only come from one place…”
Lee: “OOH! Bradford!”

Sandi: “I’d imagine the animal on the left has an easier job finding a well-fitting hat.”
Lee: “…and a girlfriend.”

After Lee describes a Jimmy joke as just two old codgers on the streets trading insults about their wives.
Stephen: “They do that on the streets of New York, only with ‘yo momma’…”
Lee, channeling Rob Beckett: “They do what with my momma?”
Screen Shot 2017-05-19 at 10.32.03 PM.png

Stephen does slide in one really nice joke about the Navy: “D’you know how they separate the men from the boys in the Navy? With a crowbar.”

Stephen: “Why won’t the Mona Lisa stop staring at you?”
Jimmy: “I mean…she’s only human…”

Stephen describes the phenomena of eyes following you around the room on a painting.
Lee: “What if you’re behind her? That only works with paintings of owls…”

Stephen, still to Lee: “There are other paintings- what’s the most famous painting in the Wallace Collection in London?”
Lee: “…you know you’re looking at the wrong person, eh?”

Lee brings up a very good, and correct, point about looking through the artist’s eyes, instead of just looking for the subject’s eyes. Sandi, for some reason, keeps batting this down, calling it inconsequential, while Lee now has to sort of fight to keep the idea alive.
Sandi: “You know what? In a really nice way, Lee, I’m going to say I don’t think you fully understood it.”
…Even though that is played for laughs, that’s an insanely condescending thing to say to a person on national television.
Even Lee goes “if you had changed the word ‘nice’ to ‘patronizing’, then that would have made sense…”

Stephen shows an example, a sculpture of Einstein that looks like it’s going outward when in reality it’s buckling inward. Jimmy, wowed, goes “…oh, you’re twisting my melon, man…”
Shaun Ryder would be proud.

Jimmy’s absolutely wowed by this phenomena, and is even more wowed that his eyes make the same mistake when it goes round a second time.
Lee: “Listen, we’re not gonna fall for it this time…”

Jimmy: “Are we gonna bother with the rest of the show? Because I could happily watch this all day…”

Stephen: “There is this whole science called gaze detection, and it’s-”
Stephen then realize it may have another meaning, and everyone’s already gotten it. Jimmy’s just going “DON’T LOOK AT ME…”
Lee: ‘Oh, it’s a SCIENCE, is it Stephen???”

Sandi talks about going to a wedding in front of a huge field, and as people were taking photos of the couple, “there was a horse in the background with the most…gigantic…areas of expertise I’ve ever seen…and that’s all you can see in the photographs! They couldn’t actually crop it out, it was so large…”

Sandi tells another anecdote about rafters on the Zambezi who bring dogs with them incase they’re attacked by a crocodile.
Alan: “…and they throw the dog at the crocodile?”
Stephen: “…as a peace offering?”
Sandi: “Yes, as a sort of a tapas…”
Jimmy: ‘And, sorry, did your boat have a dog, or did they just have YOU…’We’ve got a small lady from the BBC we’re using…”

Stephen: ‘Who finished off Russia’s Greatest Love Machine?”
Lee: “BONEY M!”
Alan: “…I can’t believe that hasn’t set [the klaxon] off…”

Stephen talks of a prohibition-era scheme to get people to sign life insurance and let them drink themselves to death.
Jimmy: “Had they not met Irish people before??”

Alan’s joyously riffing this bit as it’s going on, already going “they ran out of booze!”, and “we’re gonna need a bigger pub!” as Stephen’s talking.

There’s this whole story about this guy Mike Malloy, who survives several drink-related attempts on his life, including drinking antifreeze, turpentine, and being stuck naked in the snow covered in ice water. He’s eventually killed by someone sticking a gas hose down his throat, which the audience responds to with ‘awwws’
Jimmy: “But BEFORE THAT, when they were trying to kill the man…you were going ‘well that just sounds like bloody good fun! But with the gas hose, you went ‘that’s not playin’ straight…it’s an interesting morality you’re working with…Take a good, hard look at yourself..”

Stephen, wrapping it up: “Well, that’s the story of durable Mike Malloy”
Jimmy: “Did he tell you that?”
Lee: “AND HE’S HERE TONIGHT!…and he comes in naked, full of gas…’OH, THEY DIDN’T GET ME, YA KNOW…”

Stephen: “There are a few myths on the internet that most people might eat eight spiders a year…”
Sandi: “OOF…”
Jimmy: ‘No, the myth is that when you’re sleeping, spiders crawl down your throat.”
Sandi: “Oh, please, PLEASE tell me that’s not true…”
Stephen: “It’s not true…often.”
Lee: “No worries, it’s not true- it’s hedgehogs!”

Stephen, top of GI: “What can you tell me about the lifespan of this lobster?”
Lee: “I dunno, but look at the size of the fish he’s just caught…”
Screen Shot 2017-05-19 at 11.21.21 PM.png

Stephen mentions that it’s not possible to know how old a lobster is, and Sandi adds that some may be sitting on the ocean floor the size of submarines…but we learn that the largest, on record, was “oh, 3 and a half foot long.”
Lee: “That’s a lot smaller than a submarine…”
Stephen, taking him literally: “Yes, it’s a lot smaller than this studio…it’s a lot smaller than many things, but it’s the largest lobster that’s been caught.”
Lee: “Sandi did say that there may be ones the size of a submarine…”
Stephen: “Oh, sorry, I missed that bit…”
Stephen: “I’m sorry, I’ve gotten too used to you saying rather stupid things…and I apologize, on bended knee.”
Lee: “What, stupid things like ‘lobsters can live forever and grow to the size of submarines?’ That kind of thing?”

Sandi, just noticing: “What doesn’t make sense is that in the photo, if it’s underwater it shouldn’t be red…”
Stephen: “Ah?”
Sandi: “No, it should be black-”
Who’d of thought that Sandi, who tried to out-intelligent Lee earlier, would wind up with the first klaxon of Series I?

Stephen, still on lobsters: “They also, rather like the people of Doncaster, they communicate by urinating…”

Jimmy complains about having to pee, on this discussion of peeing in a bag, so Sandi hands over the inward Einstein sculpture from earlier as Stephen vocally rejects the idea.
Jimmy: “Which side do I piss into? I can’t tell?”
Sandi: “D’you know…I never thought I’d see Einstein in that position…”
Jimmy: “Not so clever now, are ya?”
Stephen, making the obvious joke: ‘Suddenly it’s…PEE = MC squared!”

Lee gets a klaxon by pronouncing ‘Ye Olde Pork Pie Shoppe’ incorrectly, so after Ye is revealed as just The, he incorrectly does Olde and Shoppe again.
Lee: “Okay, at least I’ll get this one…pie!”
Stephen: ‘YES!”
The audience even applauds this one.
Jimmy: “How Northern is that? If someone’s just flicked onto this show, and they go ‘oh, Lee Mack’s on’, and they you just go ‘PIE’ and there’s a round of applause.”

Stephen: “What went up by 57% during the Blitz?”
Jimmy: “…house prizes?”
Lee: “Was it Mother Brown’s knees?”

Sandi wins, Alan loses, and Stephen ends with a quote from Yogi Berra, though I wouldn’t be shocked if half the viewing audience had no idea who Yogi Berra even was.

Overall: MAJOR success going into Series I, with a panel that wasn’t afraid to connect with each other, with Stephen, and with concepts from earlier in the show. Lee Mack had the most composed show I’d seen him in, as he was willing to connect facts and keep the dynamic going, even with Sandi, with whom he had a major disagreement with tonight. Jimmy had some nice moments, but hasn’t really stood out in an episode since the early days. Sandi did vex me a bit tonight, but she still had a nice enough show, and Alan was kind of quiet but still himself. Tons of material, tons of fantastic moments, a truly impressive start to the series.

MVP: Lee
Best Guest: Jimmy
Show Winner: Sandi
Best QI Fact: Lobsters
Best Runner: Einstein sculpture.

QI Watchdown: H16 (History)

Well, it’s taken us about a year, but we’ve FINALLY made it to the end of Series H. While this has had some pretty nice moments, the bulk of the series was pretty ‘meh’. There weren’t a ton of bad episodes, and there were some great ones here and there, but in the midst of what’s considered by many as a golden era of QI, this is a tad disappointing.

Tonight, we have three of the more civilized, intelligent people in Qi on the same panel: Rob Brydon, Sandi Toksvig and David Mitchell. Only David has been on an above-par episode this season, the Health and Safety show, and while Rob and Sandi have had some great showings, they haven’t themselves been a part of a great show. Hopefully this changes tonight.

Stephen, top of the show: “Let’s start out with something nice and easy: name a henge…”
Panel: “….”
Alan: “Now, come on…”

David gets the first klaxon of the night (which is rather quick for a bunch of really smart people) by guessing Seahenge, which Stephen says just has ‘henge’ in it, and isn’t a henge.
Alan: “So, the word henge in it…that, uh, that’s wrong?”

Talking of the Druids at Stonehenge:
Rob: “Presumably…I mean, they can’t all have parked miles away, they must have stickers in their windows with a little druid sign on it…which also gets them into KKK meetings…”
Stephen: “They just have to straighten up their headdresses…”
Rob: “They can park near the burning cross.”

Stephen asks what carhenge is, and Rob’s initially quite confident, but the picture changes and he’s like “maybe it’s not that.”
Eventually he says “it was featured on the liner notes for Bruce Springsteen’s The River, part of the song Cadillac Ranch…it’s all these Cadillacs, and- oh, that’s not it, is it?”
[The shot is panned all the way out, as if the klaxon’s about to sound]
Stephen: “It is!”
Rob: “IT IS! IT IS!”

Stephen: “It was a memorial to his father.”
Sandi: “Was he killed in a car accident?”

Stephen talks about lay lines, including an example, of how every Woolworth’s lines up to an exact picture.
Sandi: “It does look like if you folded it one more time, you’d get a frog.”
David: “Surely there are more…”
Stephen: “Oh, there are hundreds more-”
David: “So it’s been very selective.”
Stephen: “What, and people who believe in lay lines AREN’T?”

Stephen passes around ancient golden bowls. Alan says that his has a hole in the bottom.
Stephen: “You’ve all got holes in the bottom?”
Stephen realizes the flaw here, and responds with a “HEY!”
Screen Shot 2017-01-31 at 11.38.16 PM.png

Rob: “You know what I’d use this for? If I were eating pistachios at home, while watching the Emmerdale omnibus…I would use this to-”
Stephen and Alan: “KILL YOURSELF!”

Stephen says that an older way of measuring time was setting candles so that a cannon would go off at twelve noon.
Sandi: “That must be a fantastic way to wake the children.”
Alan: “Yeah, in a hail of bullets. ‘GET READY FOR SCHOOL!’ ‘BUHBUHBUHBUHBUHBUH!”
Stephen: “DANCE!”

Additionally, China had a type of joss stick that would burn for increments of time, and would change scents in intervals.
Sandi: “Oooh, it’s cinnamon, I must collect the children!”

Stephen tells the panel that sponges can reform their initial shape after liquidation.
David: “So, they’re essentially like terminators?”
Stephen: “YES! EXACTLY! But Terminator 2.”
David: “So it’s definitely evil? Like, it could destroy all sponges?”
Rob: “That’s only natural sponge, not the one you get at Halford’s…”

Stephen: “Time speeds up as you get older. I had an aunt in her 90s who said “GOSH, IT CAN’T BE BREAKFAST *AGAIN!*”

David: “What, to the queen mother, everything ever 1964 has just been a big BLUR! She must have thought ‘my horses are DEFINITELY getting quicker!”

Then, this comes up on the behind-screen:
Screen Shot 2017-02-10 at 5.59.36 PM.pngAlan, to David: “You look hilarious on the end…”
Stephen: “THAT…is a CHARACTER. Somebody has got to write a sitcom around David Mitchell’s character…”
David: “I feel like, in this war film, I die about 2/3rd of the way through…”

Sandi, proving again that she’s a welcome presence on the show, tells a story about reboarding a plane after a plane in front of them had crashed, and the pilot saying, on the intercom, “I know many of you are seasoned travelers and don’t normally watch the safety instructions, but PERHAPS TODAY…”

Stephen reports that plane patrons are at ease with a pilot with an Edinburgh accent, immediately followed by, in a Billy Connolly accent, “I DUUN’T THINK THA’D BE VERY GOOD…”

Sandi brings up that the chairman of the pork pie association is a vegetarian, and David is completely baffled.
Screen Shot 2017-02-12 at 2.45.42 PM.png
David: “Yes, but how…what-”
Stephen: “HE’S ANGRY, NOW!”
David: “No, I’m absolutely…god, what’s this man DONE with his life? You can’t, on one hand, say that it’s wrong to eat animals, and then dedicate your life to marketing a ground-up pig!”
Stephen: “…you’ve got a point!”
David: “It’s just like a pacifist…nuclear weapons manufacturer!”
Alan: “Maybe he thought it was a job being chairman of Porkpie HATS…”

On what this object is:
Screen Shot 2017-02-12 at 2.50.24 PM.png
Sandi: “Is it an over-large hearing aid?”
Stephen: “Yes.”
Sandi: “…WHAT?” [bursts out laughing]

Stephen: “Who succeeded Harold as King of England in 1066?”
Sandi: “…Is there a trick to this?”
Stephen: “…No, you just need to name the person that succeeded Harold as King in 1066…”

Overall: True to form for this season, a ‘good enough’ ending. Nobody had a truly bad day, but the episode only occasionally got out of a ‘middling’ rut. Sandi probably had the best night, followed by David, not to close a quieter Rob out. Just a quieter, ho-hum show, not bad but just middling.

MVP: Sandi
Best Guest: David
Best QI Fact: Bowlingtons

Best Episode: H1, Hodge Podge, featuring an insanely on-panel, a great debut from Ross Noble, and a toblerone-rolo combo.
2nd Best Episode: H14, Hocus Pocus, featuring a surprisingly game Daniel Radcliffe, Lee Mack arguing about the I-before-E joke, Graham Norton answering a question about sailors, and the show ending with a dead panelist.
Worst Episode: H3, Hoaxes. Mostly thanks to an emphasis on information, and Danny Baker, this one never really got off the ground, despite Sean Lock’s best efforts.
Episode Most Worthy of Another Watch: H10, Health and Safety. Just a nice episode I undervalued a bit in the initial watchdown that still has enough great moments…mostly thanks to Ross Noble.
Best In-Episode Runner: Gyles Brandreth’s insistence on touching Sue Perkins, H2: H-Anatomy. Just the way this got funnier as it went along, especially with Sue’s horror.
Best Recurring Guest: Ross Noble, for being a newcomer to the series and ABSOLUTELY DOMINATING three episodes. Impressive stuff, especially considering he’s a fixture for the rest of the run.
Most Underused Recurring Guest: Rich Hall. A quieter, less present showing on two occasions.
Most Improved: Jack Dee, for being a nice presence on two pretty nice episodes.
Worst Guest: Ruby Wax, H5, H-Animals, for not adding anything and for just being confused by the proceedings.
Best Guest Appearance: Eddie Izzard, H9, House and Home, for…being Eddie Izzard and having a grand old time.
Guest We Wish Wasn’t Done After this Series: Graham Norton, H14, Hocus Pocus. Because he’s always a nice presence in episodes, and…I wish he was on more.
Most Welcome Return: Gyles Brandreth, H2, H-Anatomy, for coming back and knowing everything, yet still contributing fairly to a pretty nice episode, and playing well with the rest of the panel.
Rookie of the Year: Ross Noble. See above.
Best Single Moments: Toblerone-Rolo Combo (H1: Hodge-Podge), Pushing hippopotami into the swimming pool (H5: H-Animals), The Quickfire Hypothetical Round that Took Ages, (H8: Hypothetical), Blowing Smoke up Someone’s Ass (H10: Health and Safety), CEILING! (H14: Hocus Pocus), IT’S NOT THERE! MIRAGE! (H15: Hypnosis).

QI Watchdown: H11 (Highs and Lows)

Another episode featuring someone who hasn’t been on since the early series’, which seems to be a theme this series, tonight’s features the return of Fred MacAulay, proud scotsman and friend to Greg Proops. Also here tonight is our second Sandi Toksvig episode of the series, and our first Rob Brydon episode of the series, so it might be a pretty good one.

The buzzers are a series of ascending sung high notes, except for Alan’s which is a disastrously low note.

Fred helps Stephen pick out a few tartans onscreen, only for Stephen to say that the whole tartan thing is rather recent, and not as important as people have been led to believe.
Fred: “I’m not sure if I’ll be able to continue, Stephen, I’m welling up…”

Stephen explains that everyone could get away with wearing the Stewart tartan, as it’s appropriate, as subjects of the Queen.
Sandi: “But I couldn’t wear it.”
Stephen: “Right, you’re not a British subject-”
Sandi: “No, I’m Danish…”
Stephen: “Is there a Danish tartan…perhaps made of a pastry?”
Sandi, after a laugh: “Yes, that’s our entire culture in a nutshell…you forgot the PORN films, you silly boy…”

Stephen mentions that Americans call tartans ‘plaid’.
Stephen: “D’you know where the word plaid comes from?”
Fred: “…means TARTAN!”

Screen Shot 2016-12-23 at 11.31.49 PM.pngAlan: “He didn’t know how to put that on, did he? “oHHH…If I move, it’ll fall off…just take the picture…”

Fred: “A lot of people will be wondering what a Scotsman wears under his kilt. A true Scotsman will never tell you what he wears underneath his kilt, but he’ll show you at the drop of a hat…”
Stephen: “I’ve seen dandruff on the shoes, that’s a giveaway…”
The whole audience “OHHHHHH….”s here.
Sandi: “I don’t feel well, now…”

Sandi talks about her private school making girls wear two different pairs of pants to prevent boys from tearing them off.
Sandi: “They were terrified that we’d have anything to do with boys. Meanwhile, I was in a dorm full of girls, and quite happy…”
Stephen: “I was gonna say…”

Screen Shot 2016-12-23 at 11.38.20 PM.pngSandi: “Oof…he’s a big boy…”
Rob, saying his first line of the show: “Good to see Mel Smith getting back out into the public eye…”

After the caber-tossing footage, Rob: “That could just be a man in early January disposing of his Christmas tree.”

Stephen, to Fred: “Do you know anything about the great Donald Dinny?”
Fred: “Donald Dinny…that’s an instruction, in Scotland. DONALD! DINN’E! WHATEVER IT IS YOU’RE THINKING OF, DONALD! DINN’E! DENNY, YOU CAN, BUT DONALD…DINN’E!”

On why Haggis was smuggled from Canada to the US for Burns Night
Sandi: “Because the US does not approve of inedible food.”

Fred talks about this Scottish poem for Burns Night which was translated to German, and then back to English, and through mistranslation, the phrase “chieftain’s people” and whatnot read as “Mighty Fuhrer of the Sausage People.”
Stephen, over applause: “Oh, that’s fabulous! That should stay!”

Stephen: “I heard a Scotsman say “Oh, I don’t know why you English people go on about our accent being impenetrable. Americans find it easy to understand, easier than English.” And then I saw Trainspotting in America and there were subtitles all the way through…”

Stephen asks where Chinese Burns night takes place:
Sandi: “Chinese Burns Night? Isn’t that something unpleasant underneath your wrist??”

Stephen: “After scaling Everest, what did Sir Edmund Hillary do for an encore?”
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Alan: “He had a massive teeth-off with Sherpa Ten-Sing.”

Rob realizes he looks a TON like Hillary.
Sandi: “Did he become a Welsh comedian?”
Rob: ‘Me or him?”

Rob: “There’s not much you can do with it, though…”
Alan: “You can do a Kiwi accent…”
Rob, Kiwi accent: “I mean, sure, I’ve climbed a lot of mountains in my time…but it’s not something to go on aBEEET…I’m sorry, I’m struggling-”
Alan: “Needs a bit of work, there, Rob…”

Rob: “I remember, after that photo was taken…we had a hell of a day. I had just finished telling a joke to my friend there, and he was PISSING himself…”
Stephen: “What was his name?”
Rob: “His name was Bert…”
Alan: “His name was Sherpa Ten-Sing…”
Rob: “Well, yes, but TO HIS FRIENDS…”

Screen Shot 2016-12-24 at 12.24.49 AM.png
Stephen: “Here he is, looking slightly less like Rob at this angle…”
Rob: “Who does he look like here…he looks like Edmund Hillary..”
Sandi: “He does look kind of awkward, like, “yes, I am going to marry her, because I LOVE her…”
Rob: “In that picture I look more like the chap in the drawing, actually…”

Stephen: “Speaking of Yetis, what would be the quickest way of getting Brian Blessed to the top of Everest?”
Rob: “Tell him they’re putting on a production of Peter Pan…Ken Branagh’s directing…and he’s a shoo in for Captain Hook.”

Fred: “You say he went 28,000 feet without oxygen, but he had to have had some…”
Stephen: “Sorry, without the assistance…”

Rob: “He’s not really as prized as he should be, Brian Blessed…”
Stephen: “He calls me Spunk-Bubble. ‘HALLO SHPUNK BUBBLE, HOUGH AH YOOUUGH?”
Alan, mid-laughter: “Why does he c…”
Stephen: “It’s another explanation…”
Rob: “And did he do it without oxygen??”

Stephen: “There are other ways of telling temperature…”
Alan: “Finger in your bum.”
Stephen has several stages of reaction. First he gives a direct No. Then a confused look, then a ‘yeah’, then an aroused look, then back to the panel. It’s fascinating, really.

Stephen: “No, I, uh..the field cricket.”
Alan: “Oh, of course, sorry, field cricket in your bum…”

On the chirping cricket increasing temperature.
Rob: “Well it makes sense, if you’re in the hot country, if you’re tossing at night and can’t get off-”

Screen Shot 2016-12-24 at 12.56.14 AM.png


Rob: “NO. NO. NO. NO.”
Screen Shot 2016-12-24 at 12.57.18 AM.pngScreen Shot 2016-12-24 at 12.57.32 AM.png

Sandi: “…sounds like it.”

On how an Englishman and Frenchman met in the middle of a tunnel under the channel, and how the communicated.
Rob: “Sonar?”
Alan: “Shouting.”
Stephen: “No, not shouting.”

About a Colonel who missed in the channel, and “went home and shot himself.”
Rob: “Did he hit?”

The first question of GI:
Stephen: “Name a country where English is the official language.”
Stephen: “Oh, my children!”
Fred guesses Wales…and is somehow correct. Of course, Alan guesses England and gets a Klaxon.

Rob, as a joke: “FRANCE!”
Stephen: “…no.”
Rob: “D’you know when you’re thinking, and you think to yourself ‘is it, it sounds so crazy’, and then you say ‘go on, leap into the abyss’-”
Stephen: “Odd use of the word ‘thinking’.”
Screen Shot 2016-12-24 at 1.12.43 AM.png

Stephen: “We’re looking for the official name for a phobia of heights.”
Alan: “Height-o-phobia.”
Stephen: “…usually they’re in greek…”

Alan spends most of GI getting pretty much every Klaxon in the book, which is a nice throwback to Series B, sort of like this show.

Overall: A good show, though shockingly devoid of any standout moments. There were several good lines, and it was a nice panel, but, aside from Alan, nobody was really collaborating with each other. The dynamic was low, and even if I wrote a lot, it still couldn’t break out of ‘okay’ for me, which is a shame, because Fred had a pretty strong start, Rob had a lot of good lines, and Sandi was great at drawing conclusions here. Solid enough, but flawed.

MVP: Rob
Best Guest: Sandi
Show Winner: Fred
Best QI Fact: Edmund Hillary and the Yeti
Best Runner: Brian Blessed

QI Watchdown: H8 (Hypothetical), or The Answer is NOT to Poo on the Scale!

PHEW…It’s been a WHILE since I’ve done a QI. Six months to be exact. Still, I think it’s about time we dove into another one. Let’s see what we’ve got.


This one…might be a mess.

This is, in fact, a Johnny Vegas episode, and it also features John Lloyd, who has produced countless programs such as Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Blackadder, and Have I Got News For You…as well as this very program. This may be a case of throwing a production member into the mix in lieu of actual talent, and as I recall, this didn’t go well the last time (thanks to a certain loaf of bread named Howard Goodall). Good news is our anchor is our first Sandi Toksvig appearance of the season.

Tonight’s show, according to Stephen, is all hypothetical questions, questions with no answers, which is nice, for a change.

Johnny, tonight, is wearing a black, logo less baseball cap, and a hawaiian shirt. I know he’s just playing the part of his character, but he is coming off as very obnoxious, even though that’s the point.

John Lloyd’s appearance is explained, as this is the 99th taping of the show, they wanted to bring him out and see if he was up to the task, and he seems very gracious about it. So, from that standpoint…I get it.

First question of the night: “What’s the best way to weigh your own head?”
Alan: “You cut it off…”
Stephen: “Yes, but then someone else would have to weigh it-”
A bit late, the KLAXON goes off.

Stephen says that it can be achieved by putting your head in a bucket.
Johnny, being Johnny: “You could put apples in to make it fun…”

Johnny: “But what if the air-pockets get in your ears?”
Johnny puts his hands in his ears, to explain. Sandi, seeing this, goes “take your fingers out of your ears, or you won’t hear the answer-”
Johnny, under the applause: ‘FUCK IT!”

Sandi tells a story of his grandfather, who had two glass eyes, one of which was bloodshot: “We called it grandpa’s party eye. And when he’d go out, he’d put the bloodshot eye in and say ‘I’m going out, and I won’t be back until they match!”

So for, John’s piping in with information. This may be what we’re in for. He gives a fact about Sir Walter Raleigh’s wife carrying his head in a bag for thirty years.
Alan: “I can see why John invented this show- for the information he’s been carrying around in his pocket for years…”
Johnny, deadpan: “It was on Buzzcocks last week…”

Sandi: “I bet it was a few years before anyone wanted to sit next to her at dinner, Lady Raleigh. People going ‘oh, she’s not going to bring the head, now, is she?”

On Paradoxical Undressing:
Sandi: “Is it like counterintuitive undressing, like taking your clothes off when Jeremy Clarkson wants you to?”
Ooooh. Sandi, you know he’s on in two weeks, right?

Stephen mentions a man who can control his own body temperature
Stephen: “And we contacted him-”
Alan: “And he said he’s not coming in here because it’s freezing…”

John talks about people who would steam wet towels to dry with their own body temperatures.
Sandi: “Can you hire these people?”
Alan: “They’re a good act, they’d get on Britain’s got Talent.”
Sandi: “Yeah, that’d be good… ‘What are you gonna do?’ ‘I’m gonna dry this wet towel!”
Alan: “You can do patterns on wet towels with your hands. It’s ART!”

Stephen said that in the 1800s, there’s a test created to determine if a person is dead or not.
Alan: “If they’re watching Eastenders without reaching to turn it off…”

Stephen talks of the various tactics people tried to determine if someone was dead.
Alan: “Don’t try all of these with one person. ‘AUUUGH!…AIIIIGHH! GAAAHH!’

Stephen, continuing: “Putting leeches on someone’s bottom…”
Johnny: “This just sounds like a normal day of my mom getting me up for school…”

John, still supplying information, talks of a clown, Grimaldi, who willed his head be cut off before his cremation.
Sandi: “He wasn’t just weighing it?”

Stephen also mentioned that extreme putrid smell was a nice indicator of death
Sandi: “So if you had…really bad personal hygiene but you weren’t actually dead…”
Stephen: “Yes, it could be…”
Alan, cracking up: “He stinks! He must be dead! ‘But he’s walking around, he’s talking!’ ‘HE’S DEAD!”

John has this whole theoretical discussion with Stephen about whether or not a falling tree makes a sound if there’s nothing around, and while it’s interesting for QI, everyone else sort of watches. Johnny does make a nice, surrealist line in there, but it’s dropped quickly to go back to the discussion.

Though, as Stephen is bringing up a really nice point to sort of finish off John, Johnny’s on the other side going “GO ON! GO ON, STEPHEN!”

Johnny, putting in one last point: “But if the tree fell down, and no one was around to see it fall, it should still be upright…”
Sandi, trying to bring it back: “Anyway, Alan, are you keeping well?”

Sandi, putting a bow on what was supposed to be a quickfire round: “If a quickfire hypothetical round takes a rather long time, is it still quickfire?”

On aliens and directions
Johnny: ‘Aliens might not have only one version for left. That’d be a hellish SATNav. LEFT…NO…-”
Alan: “Not that one, not that one, not that one, YES!”
Johnny: “…lllllleft!”

Stephen’s next hypothetical is about whether a lorry loses weight when all its pigeons lift off of the bottom of the truck. Johnny is about to make a good point to why it’s not…and relates it to “when you do a #2, and you haven’t actually lost any weight.”
Stephen: “Ah…so we’re in a slightly different wheelhouse then.”
Alan: “If you will, crap on the scale…”
Alan: “Leave the scales, do the #2, come back to the scales…”
Sandi: “The money I’ve wasted on enemas…”

Stephen: “Perhaps it’s time to move on from our hypotheticals…”
Alan: “That was very quick!”

John gives another correct answer, and goes “I’m on the wrong show, I should be on Mastermind or something…”
I mean, at least he admits it..

Stephen talks about the 27 Club, which of course I’ve heard of, but none of the panelists seem to know about. When Stephen starts listing the members, all John can name is ‘the Stones guy’, Brian Jones.

Stephen also talks about the curse of the 9th, all these musicians who died after their ninth symphony.
Alan: “What an unusual serial killer that must have been. There should have been CSI: Vienna…”

On what would happen to a Siamese cat in the fridge:
Alan: “It would turn into an ordinary cat”
Stephen: “ALMOST!”
Alan: “It would turn into a dog!”

Stephen’s looking for an animal. Alan gets the klaxon with bat, and guesses mole, but under Sandi’s breath. Johnny guesses mole, and Stephen awards him the point, though Alan, and the audience, attest that he did it first.
Johnny, going back to John’s argument: “No, because sound isn’t a thing and it didn’t travel!”

Stephen, as a finale, asks which actually came first, the chicken or the egg. The panel responds with 5 seconds of silence.

Sandi has a nice joke, about a chicken and egg who’ve just made love, and “as they’re having a post-coital cigarette, the chicken says “well, that answers that old question…”

Stephen: “What’s the longest recorded flight by a chicken, in history?”
John: “13 seconds, isn’t it?”
Stephen, floored and kind of done: “….YES. THIRTEEN SECONDS IS THE RIGHT ANSWER…”

Overall: Fun show, with a lot of nice moments, even if was kind of thin in some areas. John’s presence on the show was obligatory, and he had a lot of information-based moments that didn’t always add something to the narrative, except if Johnny, Alan or Sandi wanted to screw with him. Sandi was the best panel contributor tonight, giving some of the best answers, and being a great connector. Johnny had a quieter game than he ever has, and was more composed in character-he had nice moments, just less of them. Good enough show, but imperfect.

MVP: Sandi
Show Winner: Sandi
Best Runner: the quick fire round that wasn’t.

QI Watchdown: G7 (Girls & Boys)

Getting back on the GI wagon, and up to a pretty stellar looking episode, featuring a panelist who’s just beginning to appear more (Sandi Toksvig, your future QI host), a panelist who never appeared enough (Ronni Ancona), and a guy who I’ve been waiting to see on QI for a little while (Jack Dee). And all on a topic about gender. Sure to be a fun one.

Stephen: “Before the 20th century, the colors were pink for a baby boy and blue for a baby girl.”
Jack: “How could they be wrong for so long?”

Stephen: “Right up until the mid-15h century.”
Alan, jokingly: “Boys were called girls.”
Stephen: “Yes.”
Alan: “THEY WERE???”
Alan puts his head in his hands, dumbfounded.
Stephen: “You have to rethink everything now, don’t you?”
Alan: “This is the most extraordinary episode yet!”

Stephen: “And girl children were called…gay girls, apparently..”
Sandi: “I had no problem with that…”

Sandi: “I like pink. Pink makes the boys wink, and I’ve known quite a few boys that are winkers, you see…”
Jack: “Bit sexist, don’tcha think?”
Sandi: “I’ve only just started…this is just the beginning.”
Jack: “Well I’m gonna come down on you like a …ton of bricks in a second…”
Sandi: “Well, you’d be the first boy in my life that’s done so.”
Stephen: “They can get a man on the moon, but they can’t get one on Sandi…”

Jack is Phill Jupitus’ delivery with Rich Hall’s demeanor, and I like that combo.

Stephen: “What’s the best way to get a girl.”
Alan’s buzzer: “‘ELLO DAHLING!”
Alan: “…usually works…”

Alan: “Nowadays, people think that, if you have the football on, during…you know…you’ll have a boy.”
Sandi: “If you’ve got the football on, you’ll be lacking at having sex at all…”

Sandi: “I think there’s a relationship between a sense of humor and the male sex organ.”
Alan: “People are always laughing at mine…”

Sandi and Ronni answer the ‘why are there not too many women on QI’ question by going into detail about female comedians, and how there aren’t many, and how there’s a hesitance of letting them on. Out of nowhere, while they’re going on about it, Jack buzzes in:
Jack: “Is it because once you get them started, they don’t shut up?”
Man, that is pretty perfect. Jack should have been on QI AGES AGO…

Stephen: “Drunk women have 50% more testosterone coursing about their bodies..”
Ronni: “They’re drinking the wrong things…”

Jack gives a sentence in pig latin to Stephen.
Ronni, flirtatiously: “OOH, YOU SCHOLAR!”
Jack: “Plenty more where that came from.”

Stephen: “What does your granny have to do with a killer whale?”
Ronni: “They’ve both got stomachs filled with plastic bags that they’ve eaten by mistake.”
Oh, how I missed Ronni…

I’m sorry, but Alan’s voice when talking about the men dressed as nuns made me stop and laugh. Alan, in a  very proper 40’s England commander voice, goes “Now look out. We’re expecting them to come as nuns. Beware of nuns. With the hands.”

Alan talks of growing a mustache recently and having it come out grey, “and then my wife said “yeah, and you’ve got a grey pube.”
Jack: “Or was that someone else?”

They put a bunch of words on the board that Germans couldn’t pronounce, including Belvoir, which is pronounced ‘Beaver.’
Sandi: “I’m gonna use that if I ever become a dame. I’ll go “no, it’s pronounced DAME BEAVER.”

Stephen: “Why are men better than women at reading maps.”
Jack: “Well, they’re not, you see-”
Jack: “I was so trying-”
Stephen: “Your one attempt to be decent.”

Stephen: “What is unfair about the prize money at Wimbledon?”
Jack: “They only give it to you if you’re really, really good at tennis.”

Overall: A fairly decent episode, if down a few pegs from the last few. The dynamic was definitely a lot thicker, and that makes up for the slowness in the middle. Sandi was wonderful tonight, and definitely made the most of the theme, while Jack made a great debut. Ronni, as she’s done lately, didn’t say the most but was very funny.

MVP: Sandi
Best Guest: Jack
Show Winner: Sandi & Ronni
Best QI Fact: Nazi Nuns.

QI Watchdown: G2 (G-Animals)

Well, two episodes in and we get a lot of big additions. First of all, we have a pentagonal panel for the first and only time, squeezing a third panelist onto the non-Alan side. Secondly, we have our first Bill Bailey episode since the Christmas Episode in Series E, and it’s so good to have him back. We also have our first Sean Lock episode of the year, and this episode also features two newbies. One is a very nice special guest, and the other is the first appearance of someone that will become a well-used QI recurring guest.

Sandi Toksvig is someone I’ve thankfully heard of, and one I respect. She was only a recurring guest on three seasons of the UK Whose Line, but she managed to become a standout, because of her energy and delivery. She also had a way of screwing with Clive Anderson that became classic. She left the show after a while, came out, and suddenly wound up on QI. I love that she’s here, and I hope she’s as funny here as she was on Whose Line.

John Hodgman, who Americans best recognize as the human representation of a PC in the “I’m a Mac, and I’m a PC” commercials with Justin Long. He’s also a noted humorist, and is famous for very dry, witty jokes. He’s on QI tonight, squeezed between Sandi and Sean, because of his efforts to get QI onto BBC America, which succeeded. I’m glad they gave back to a fan like that.

Buzzers are commonplace. Core 4 get animal noises. John gets a duck call.

Stephen: ‘What use is a goose?”
Sandi: “Is it toilet paper? (waits for audience to laugh, then, in earnest) “No, seriously.”
Yeah, I think she’s definitely the right sort for this show.

Stephen reads the full Gargantua quotation, explaining all the places on a goose that he can wipe his bum with.
Bill: “And that’s why he was thrown out of the pet shop!”

Four minutes in and John is just watching the main four go at it, not really saying anything. I feel bad for John, because he’s not the type who can jump in and start aggressively telling jokes. He’s basically the anti-Reg Hunter.

I dunno what it is, but Sean’s voice sounds different. Like, possibly deeper. Maybe he was battling a sinus infection, or a throat thing, because his voice sounds off.

And then John, Sean and Alan start arguing about which animals not to shove up a bum. John says he won’t shove a goose up, and Sean suggests a scorpion, ‘especially one of those pinchers.’ John disagrees, saying “not absorbent.” Alan even goes “What about a hedgehog. Is that absorbent?”

Stephen: “Who made a famous appearance at the Nottingham Goose Fair-”
Sean: “Puff Daddy.”

Stephen explains that ‘the gooseberry bush’ was slang for a, in his words “female pudenda”. Sandi goes further, saying “was this before a Brazilian? Cause it’s more of a landing strip now, for the geese.”

Stephen: “[the geese] have a technique for increasing their range by 70%”
Alan: “Landing on a boat.”
And he just says it so blankly, too.
Sean: “Lying, as to where they’ve been. “Yeah, just MILES…over there…”

Sandi, on the V formation: “How do you suppose they take those photographs? Do you think it’s a passing parachutist who goes “Ooh, there’s a bit of luck, there’s a flock of geese passing by.”
Alan: “It’s a goose going like that…” And he does this most ridiculous impression of a goose trying to hold a camera with one wing while flying with the other.

Stephen, segueing: ‘But the uses of gooses, or eese of geese-”
Sean: “Is the next question ‘the habits of rabbits’? Or, “How far can you shove a dove?””

As Stephen is trying to needle out an sneer for a question about giraffes, Alan, on the behind-screen, notices that in the gaggle of giraffes, one reaching over and licking another one’s ass. he then reacts frightened as the giraffe does indeed do it…and then in fear as he realizes it’s going to loop and lick the ass again. Now he’s got everyone’s attention, pointing at the ass-licking. They have to put it on the main camera now, the zoomed in shot.
Sean: ‘The other giraffes are going ‘what are you looking at?”
Alan: “D’you know they’ve got a really long tongue. Really, really, really long…”

Sandi says that Giraffes have long tongues to clean out their ears. Sean, pointing back to the screen, goes “that’s not where the giraffe’s ears are…”
Stephen: “Ears is an anagram [for arse]”

Stephen segues back into the question with ‘so, as we watch THE LOOP OF SHAME…”

Sean, bringing it back to the ass-licking, goes “the thing about that clip is that there must be something a lot weirder going on, that they’re looking at…It’s probably like, a wildebeest just pleasuring himself on a rock.”

Stephen: “What do giraffes eat? What’s their main staple?”
John, briefly channeling Rich Hall: “Children.”

Stephen explains that the plant warns neighbors when the giraffe is coming.
Sandi: ‘What, are they going, “psst, giraffe!”

Stephen: “What is the commonest cause of death amongst mountain goats?”
Bill: “Brian Blessed!”
And then, simultaneously, Stephen and Bill both do incoherent, but wonderful, Brian Blessed impressions. I’m just awaiting his appearance on this show in 2 seasons.
Alan: “But when you put that beard on, that noise turns into words…”

Stephen: ‘Three to four times every hour they…”
Bill: “They flip over like those toys you wind up…”

Stephen: “They use their horns…to…”
Alan: “Scratch their arses!”

I’m just gonna say it…John Hodgman is not really adding anything to this episode. He’ll have a line every once and a while, but this is a crowded panel, with four very loud and vivacious panelists already. Hodgman can’t really fit in this dynamic.

Stephen explains that seagulls aren’t actually sea-birds, and don’t go that far out to see. As the other four panelists respond, and ask Stephen to clarify, Sean just shakes his head, in complete disbelief, smirking, going “no they’re fucking sea-birds” in his head. He puts his head back, fingers in his ears, and shakes his head, blissfully.

Sandi, on the claim that camels with more testosterone have bigger gullers: “Rubbish. It’s like that nonsense that bald men have more testosterone, right?”
Stephen: “…less…”
Bill suddenly turns around, outraged

Stephen: “It’s cause the sand in Saudi Arabia is the wrong kind of sand for…”
Sean: “throwing in people’s eyes.”
Stephen has to stop saying the right answer and process Sean’s answer, which cracks him up

Stephen: “What other advantages does [the Mongolian Gerbil] have as a pet?”
Sandi: “Doesn’t live very long…”

Stephen says that gerbil poo is dry and non-smelly
Bill: “So you can freeze them, and them bash them against a wall with a cricket bat…”
Alan, bringing it back to the top of the show: “And THAT’S why he was banned from the pet shop…”
Sandi: “That’s another potential olympic sport, I think.”
Bill: “PULL!” (smash!)

Stephen: “Who stopped flying the Jolly Roger in 2003?”
Bill: “erm ugh umm…the queen.”

Stephen: “Who Goose-stepped their way across Europe in the 1940’s?”
Sandi: “Was it a goose?”
And once she gets klaxoned, she turns to Stephen and gives this nonchalant yet confused little arm stance, like “I don’t get it and I’m mad at you.”

Two people got last place, and neither one of them was Alan. Weird. And of course, even getting last, Sean does his usual ‘thank you’.

John wins, which is sort of nice.

Overall: I’m gonna be blunt. If this episode was just Sandi-Sean-Bill-Alan, it’d be a 10/10 episode for sure. John Hodgman’s inclusion dials it down to a 9, but that doesn’t NOT make it a great show, because it was excellent. From the goose gag, to the giraffes licking anuses, to the pet shop gag. It just kept…going…on. Hard to pick a real MVP, but extra props go to Sean, for keeping things going despite his more-than-obvious laryngitis, and Sandi, for making a spectacular debut and feeling like a regular.

MVP: Sean
Best Guest: Sandi
Show Winner: John
Best QI Fact: Goose neck=toilet paper