Another Sandi episode (feels like there’s been, like, 20 of them recently), but, on the plus side, we have two bald guys to counteract her. One has been here a billion times before, and it’s Dara O’Briain. The other is a SPECIAL GUEST STAR, in award-winning comedian and part-time-pub-landlord, Al Murray. All of tonight’s guests have been on Mock the Week, at least in the first 2 series. So this could be a nice one.
I got a kick out of the i-related intros Stephen does for every one, like the ‘eye-catching’ Sandi or the ‘eye-watering’ Al…and then the ‘I-RISH’ Dara O’Briain, which he gets a kick out of.
All the buzzers are I-related. Al’s is an amusing animal noise that even he doesn’t know what to think of.
Al mentions that he took tax advice from Harry Hill. This begs the question- do all bald funny british people know each other?
Sandi talks of a tax inspector who spent several days going through all the boring details, and at the end, when they hadn’t found anything, he’d gone ‘to be honest, Miss Toksvig, I just wanted to meet you’.
The first bit is about the transgender community of tax inspectors in Pakistan that are sent to embarrass people who don’t pay taxes by dancing in their shops until they do. Not a ton of very PC responses here, though Dara brings up a good point of ‘there’s only so many transgender people in Pakistan…they have to be very busy, they’re belting out ‘I am what I am’ in shops every day…”
Sandi, on the ways of annoying tax-avoiders: “What do we do here, then? Morris dancing outside people’s shops?”
I like that so far, Al is playing the game, going for the questions, as a guest star would, and focusing less on cracking jokes. With Dara here, I feel like there’s already the ‘bald funny guy’ quota checked off.
Sandi: “I once bought a racehorse by mistake…”
Dara: “What had you originally gone into the shop for?”
Sandi: “…I was there as a tax inspector…”
Dara: “You wanted a pint of Activia pouring yogurt, and you got a racehorse..”
Sandi: “…oh you HEARD about my little problem I had…”
Sandi: “That house would make a great Advents calendar…”
Alan: “Yeah, there’d have to be a HUGE chocolate behind it…”
Alan, on the narrow houses of Norway: “It’d be nice to have the stairs in a spiral, but there should be a pole down.”
Stephen: “Have you even been down a fireman’s pole?”
Al, seeing the double-entendre: “…no, I haven’t..”
Stephen: “You really TRIED to keep a straight face…”
Stephen, on fireman’s poles: “It’s horribly squeaky, as well. They should be oiled.”
[A moment of laughter]
Al: “Well oil’s FLAMMABLE…you can’t turn up at a FIRE covered in oil…”
Stephen, still on fireman protocol: “Two machines a breast is usual, and-”
Alan: “Sorry, I just thought of breasts. Like ‘two machines?'”
Stephen: “TWO MACHINES PER BREAST?”
Sandi: “It was an odd moment, Alan, but I was with you…”
Stephen asks for the highest-paid sportsman of all time, and behind-screen shows pictures of Tiger Woods, David Beckham and (I believe) Rafael Nadal.
Sandi: “I assume it’s not one of those…”
Alan: “I was gonna SAY one of those…I was gonna say the one on the left.”
Stephen: “Were you? Well, not the best LAID-”
Alan, since he didn’t actually say Tiger Woods, looks around, betrayed, going ‘THIS IS RIDICULOUS!’
Dara: “THOUGHT CRIME! THOUGHT CRIME FOR ALAN DAVIES!”
Alan: “Is it true that people were killed in the filming of Ben Hur?”
Stephen: “Yes, in the silent film, the original-”
Sandi: “But you couldn’t hear them…”
Alan: “A card comes up: “AAAAAHHHHH”
[i laughed harder than I should have at this]
Stephen: “Who had to return to their birthplace for the census?”
Sandi: “….this is going to be one of those things where we say ‘Joseph and Mary’…and it isn’t Joseph and Mary because that isn’t what you wa-”
Sandi: “Yeah, it isn’t that at all, because-“Z
Al: “Tiger Woods?”
Stephen mentions the biblical prophecy mentions “the stem of Jesse. Does anyone know what that is?”
Sandi: “…there’s so many answers, I don’t even know where to begin…what time is this broadcast?”
[Second show in a row where someone asks THAT…]
Stephen spills a portion of rejected bible scripture, about an infant Jesus standing up and defeating a dragon.
Stephen: “Wouldn’t you have paid more attention in Sunday school if that had been in there?”
Al: “And you’re reading that in your Harry Potter voice as well…”
Stephen: “Now, what did the 2001 census reveal as the 4th largest religion in Britain?”
Alan: “…this is gonna go off, but I’m gonna say Jedi…”
I will say that there haven’t been this many klaxons in a show since the early series, and this is feeling a ton like a Late-series-A show, in the best way possible. The panel is balanced, everybody’s making jokes, the guest star is focused on playing the game.
Stephen mentions a moment from last series (Horrible), where Dara mentioned that ‘surely, fish don’t have tongues’, and Stephen brushed him off.
Dara: “No, you stood over me, I remember vividly, with a cane, and you BEAT ME, saying ‘YOU ARE HERE AT MY MERCY!”
After Dara is given points, as fish actually don’t have tongues.
Sandi: “i’m sorry, is he gonna get points for something…and we weren’t even THERE?”
Al: “I know LOADS of stuff I haven’t said…”
Stephen, to Sandi: “Don’t feel bad. You may get points in…two years’ time.”
Dara: “Someday, when you least expect it, you’ll be sitting, having coffee, and Stephen Fry will appear and go ‘…some points.”
Stephen: “But what is this fake-tongue actually for?”
Al: “…FOOLING…Dara O’Briain.”
This questions ends up being a Nobody Knows question, which nobody gets.
Sandi: “If I do it now, will I get points in 3 years?”
On the Dollar Bill’s ‘all-seeing-eye’, Dara: “…so, a COMMITTEE decided on that? That’d be remarkable whether you get it past a committee.”
Alan: “So we’re all agreed! Floating eye on top of the pyramid!”
Dara: “Yeah, a freaky, disembodied eye. We all like that? ‘YEAH, SOUNDS LIKE A GREAT IDEA!'”
Alan: “I STILL WANT THE COCK-AND-BALLS!”
Stephen offers points if the panelists can name english words derived from the native Mexican language pre-European invasion
Stephen: “Yes, that’s one.”
Sandi: “….I’ve run out.”
After Dara gets a point for ‘tequila’ even if it was process of elimination.
Al: “That’s not knowledge, that’s a crapshoot!”
Stephen: “…welcome to QI…”
Stephen: “What did Prince Albert invent?”
Alan: “Ohhhh, cock ring.”
Alan’s buzzer: “AYAYAYAYAYAY-”
Alan: “….the combover.”
Stephen: “What noise does a mute swan make? And you’re allowed to do an impression if you’d like.”
Sandi, gruff-cockney voice: “…ALLO.”
Alan: “…I can break yer arm!”
Al: *mimes talking with nothing coming out*
Overall: A surprisingly fun show, made possible by a tone that brought us back to the earlier, spryer eras of the show, as well as deconstructing what made the show great. Alan and Al were great suppliers of klaxons, and Sandi and Dara were great suppliers of jokes, with an emphasis on Sandi’s work, as she did a pretty nice job of keeping things funny and not boring people to tears.
Best Guest: Dara
Show Winner: Sandi
Best QI Fact: Prime Minister and AA
Best Runner: Dara’s leftover points.