QI Watchdown: J13 (Jobs), or Old Jeremiah Software

Yeah, I know the QI ones are going really sluggishly, but my WL writeups have an audience, and these, like I used to, I kinda just do for fun.

This seems to be an interesting lineup though- David Mitchell’s our anchor, Sarah Millican’s our supplemental comic. Good to see Sarah back after a strong showing in Invertebrates.

The other panelist tonight is an interesting case- Richard Coles, who was in the Communards with Jimmy Somerville, then became a Vicar and now is a sort of…religious activist that also does radio shows? I dunno how to classify him. But he’s here, and he’s made a few appearances over the years.

The buzzers, and intros, are based on former jobs they all had- As David was a former cloakroom attendant, his buzzer is a toilet being flushed, which he has a bewildered reaction to. Richard’s is an out-of-tune sax. Alan’s is a street barker hawking sandwiches.

This goes into a conversation about how the cloakroom David attended was actually a room FOR cloaks…which leads to the revelation that Richard actually HAS a cloak, being a reverend.
Sarah: “Does it have pockets?”

Stephen, going by his only reference for priests, asks if he’s ever done a full on Exorcist style exorcism, as a joke
Richard, smirking: “…well actually I HAVE done a couple of those…”

Richard is already doing well with anecdotes, talking about a colleague who treated a guy who thought he was God, and asking him hard questions about the fabric of the universe only for the guy to reply “I never talk shop.”

Alan’s about to answer a question, but he’s distracted by the silliness of his ‘SANDWICHES’ buzzer, and he buckles a bit

He gets to the cluster of words to define, sees the word ‘ripper’, and guesses: “…a ripper…is a murderer…”

David: “These days, murderers are very amateur, aren’t they? It’s very difficult to make a living out of it…”

David: “Burgrailer, presumably that’s someone who grills burgers?”

Stephen: “A burgrailer is someone who removed burrs from the teeth of combs-”
Alan: “Oh, I thought it was gonna be from the queen mother…”

On a Willyer
Richard: “Is that someone who was in both the Black Eyed Peas and the Wurzles?”
Man, Richard’s impressing me so far
Stephen, getting it: “WILL I ARR!”

Stephen mentions Worf from Star Trek: TNG
Alan: “It always surprises me, the moments you dip into popular culture, which ones you choose!”

Richard has a cool name-checking moment, talking about going on tour with T’Pau and PIL, and having breakfast in between Carol Decker and John Lydon

This leads to Stephen talking about being in a hotel with Black Grape, featuring three people I’ve covered on Buzzcocks (Shaun Ryder, Bez & Sausages enthusiast Kermit)
Stephen: “It was so…rowdy on the hotel floor”
[Alan cracks at the word choice]

Sarah: “A nut-steamer…is that somebody who works in a spa?”
I missed Sarah

Stephen explains that these professions came from the 1890 census, and some, like ‘macaroni loper’, have never been explained
David: “Cause nowadays in the census, don’t people put that their religion is ‘Jedi’, as a sort of joke? Maybe the macaroni lopers are having a laugh at our expense

Richard, because he seems to have an anecdote for all of these, explains that he had a guy in prison who wanted a Jedi chaplain
Richard, somehow with a straight face: “In the end we found a Shaman…in Lincoln, who did the job”
Stephen: “and did he have a little lightsaber?”
Richard: “No, he had this…shaking stick. But we thought that was the closest we could get…”

Alan: “Star Wars will outlive all the major religions…”
ONE PERSON CLAPS. This cracks everyone up.
Alan: “…there’s this one little ewok in the back…”

Stephen: “How does snake-farming work?”
Alan: “…ya plant them in the ground…”
Sarah: “Unless they’re doing the actual farming. That’d be tricky, just put ’em on a tractor and watch ’em go..”

Stephen, after Richard talks about snake handlers in American religious practices, jokingly goes “WHY D’YA HAVE TA DRAG RELIGION INTO EVERYTHING?”
Richard has the best reply: “…sorry, bishop’s watching..”

Alan talks of having a green chile on holiday in India, one that wasn’t as edible, “and I could see three Indian ladies peering their heads ’round…virtually nudging one another…cause they clearly put these out as a trap!”

Richard talks of Icelandic people serving petrified shark extract to tourists “as a joke”
Stephen: “And we’re supposed to feel sorry for their financial crisis…UP YOURS, BJORK.”
David: “Were they worried that tourism was gonna get out of hand on that?”

The whole ‘soil scavenger’ bit is very lowest-common-denominator, and while there are jokes, they all hit kind of pathetically because it’s all about poo

Sarah, on autocorrect: “If I wanna type the c-word, and I do sometimes, it comes up with Cynthia, and that’s my mother-in-law’s name…and she’s lovely, so it seems so unfair”
Richard: “Let’s hope it doesn’t work the other way ’round”
[I did not predict Richard would be so good at QI]

Richard is getting so close to the answer of the ‘first software engineer’ question with really reasonable guesses
Screen Shot 2020-02-15 at 12.29.51 PM.png
Stephen: “…so disappointing…”
This is the QI equivalent of “everyone got CLOSER AND CLOSER AND CLOSER, and then SUDDENLY they’re denying wearing bedspreads!”

Alan, out of nowhere: “Where would we be without trees?”
Stephen has to stop in order to react to that

Stephen asks for some famous Butlers
Richard, knowing who he’s dealing with, guesses “JEEVES”

Then, the shot of Stephen from Jeeves & Wooster comes up, and the second he sees it, he mutters “oh, Christ”

Stephen talks of being asked to address the Oxford union
Alan: “They have asked me, but I always thought they’d ask me just to go “PFFFFFF..WE HAVEN’T ENTERTAINMENT, PFAHAHAHA…ASK HIM SOMETHING!”
Stephen: “They’d BOW DOWN to you…you’re thinking of someone from Essex”
Alan, still going: “HE DOESN’T KNOW!”

Stephen’s story goes towards the introduction of one Jacob Rees-Mogg, a figure who represents such villainy that I’d hoped he wouldn’t be mentioned on QI. Thankfully, they go on and make fun of him for being a bit posh, here

Stephen ends the discussion on Rees-Mogg with “I’m sure he’s a lovely man”
yeah….not really…

Stephen: “What use is a sheep during a gold rush?”
Richard, smirking: “…it can be cold and lonely on those prairies…”

David, still stuck on this: “HANG ON…THE LORD IS YOUR SHEPHERD…given a cold night on his own…he might shaft you?”
Stephen: “I believe his rod comforts you…”

Stephen explains that the Swiss have been cleaning debris out of space
David: “Why the Swiss? Why have they taken it upon themselves, after years of…not joining in and stockpiling Nazi gold…”
MAN, just going for the jugular when you don’t expect him to. Heck, that’s even technically a reference to Bill Bailey’s stand-up.

Stephen: “I’ve got a horrible thought…it might be for profit.”
Sarah: “They’re not just a bit OCD?”

Stephen mentions the Swiss base where they plot these space clearing things:
Screen Shot 2020-02-15 at 2.45.48 PM.png
Stephen: “…actually, that’s Telly Savalas’s hideout in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service…”

Stephen asks what a good planet to “take your annual holiday on” is
Sarah: “…Earth.”
Stephen: “…absolutely the right answer, I can frankly say…”
David, bluntly: “well, the great advantage of earth is…you can survive on it…”

Stephen: “As you know, Alice in Wonderland was written by…”
Alan: “…Lewis Carroll”
Stephen: “right, who was, in real life…”
Alan: “…a dog.”
Stephen has to stop for a moment, before saying “you’re one letter off…”
Richard: “he was a don…”

Stephen mentions a “new world coming into math”
David: “the invention of the number 9, of course…very controversial…”
Stephen: “squeezed it in between 7 and 10…or EIGHT and 10, sorry-”
David, helping him out: “8 came even later…they needed it for the war.”
Stephen: “they needed it for Bingo, I think”
I love that they can do some tangents working off each other like this. Sad part is this isn’t THE most collaborative panel- everyone’s bouncing off Stephen, but with some exceptions (honestly Richard), not really each other

Stephen, still referring to Alice in Wonderland: “The cat was brilliantly played in the Tim Burton film by…uh, who did the voice of the cat? It was, um…”
Alan, ever the clever one: “HUGH LAURIE!”
Stephen, yes-anding, goes “that’s right!”

Stephen, after the applause had gone down: “…minus 2000 points…”

Stephen adds on that the guy who wrote this theory book on AiW also wrote a book for Queen Victoria “called Something Like Problems and Symbolic Logic, and so her majesty, Queen Victoria, must have read it and gone ‘WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS?”

Stephen mentions, when he has his green laser for his Jolly Jape, “they keep shouting in my ear ‘DON’T POINT IT AT PEOPLE’S EYES!”
Alan has no choice but to resume the role of the angry director from a few episodes ago: “DON’T POINT IT AT THEIR FUCKING EYES!…it’s FUCKING DANGEROUS.”
Stephen: “The thing is…HE knows…he’s the one that’s gonna be fired..”

Stephen points it upwards so people can see the length of the laser light
Alan: “The lighting men are going ‘AAAAIIIIIGHHH!”
I love Alan so much

The eventual trick is the laser pops the black balloons but not the white one [“WOW, GREEN, COOL” yells Alan]
Stephen: “The black ones pop and the white one doesn’t.”
Alan: “…racist.”
Screen Shot 2020-02-15 at 3.08.14 PM.png

Stephen asks Alan to draw a target on the balloon, “and I’ll let you press the button as a reward if you do it sensibly”
Alan: “…so tempted to draw a cock-and-balls…”

Stephen points out that nobody finished with a negative score, which is very cool. We only saw one klaxon tonight, and the guy who got it, Richard, had a lot of points when he did get it.
Alan, at the ooing audience: “…patronizing bastards…”

Richard, upon winning: “so sorry, I’d like to give my points to the poor..”

Overall: A solid enough show, though a few dry spells towards the end bring it down a few pegs, as does the sort of individuality present with some of the better performers, like Richard and David. Sarah wasn’t as good as last time, but knowing she has a better showing coming immediately next helps. Richard was a great fit for QI, and was both funny and had a lot of good anecdotes. Alan had a really good day, especially late. David might have had the best night, solely because he’s begun to morph into like a Rich-Hall-esque cynic, and his more deadpan, offhanded lines tonight really worked.

MVP: David
Best Guest: Richard
Show Winner: Richard
Best QI Fact: midnight soil men
Best Runner: Hugh Laurie

QI Watchdown: J12 (Justice), or Not With a Penis That Size

It’s been a while, yet again, since I’ve done a QI, and this is one that’s always interested me, kinda like Jungles, because they’re trying the ‘two newbies and an anchor’ strategy, but the anchor is someone who’s only been on once before. Thankfully said anchor is Brian Cox, who gave a wonderful showing in Series I with Incomprehensible. And the two newbies are ones I have complete faith in- Rhys Darby, another member of the Australian invasion of Series J (okay he’s a Kiwi, but still), and Jason Manford, the hard-hitting Manchester comedian who gave a ton of great Buzzcocks showings.

So this could be a nice show. Plus, Stephen’s got a whole judge’s outfit going, which  is a nice touch.

Funny that Rhys Darby  looks like a cousin of David Tennant in this episode.

And…poor Alan:
Screen Shot 2020-01-08 at 5.16.22 PM.png

The buzzers keep this theme: the other three are courtroom noises and voices; Alan’s is a guillotine snapping shut.

Vic Reeves gets an early mention from Stephen, as both he and Vic had read a book on pirates. Man, I miss Vic being on QI.
The book, though, is “Sodomy and the Piratical Tradition”. Which causes Alan to give Brian a look, and an apology

Brian: “Were there rules surrounding that particular pursuit?”
Stephen: “Absolutely, you couldn’t just take whomever you pleased…”
Brian, smirkingly: “well, what is the rules of sodomy?”
Alan, owing back to the pirate rules: “not on sunday.”
Stephen, trying not to mince words: “it’s, uh…eye-wateringly complex”

Alan, referring to something Stephen says that ‘meddling with a prudent woman’ would result in death: “So meddling was rape, really? That lost its meaning by the time Scooby Doo came on…”
This gets a big reaction from everyone
Stephen: “why you pesky kids had meddled…”
Alan: “They were notorious gang-rapists..”

Stephen asks Rhys if people were transported to New Zealand, like Australia: “no, it was a destination of choice for those seeking adventure…and death.”
Alan, chuckling: “nothing’s changed..”

Alan asks the audience who the originator of the Northern/Pirate accent was, and someone yells out “IT WAS ON QI BEFORE”
Stephen cracks a little: “We’ve mentioned it on QI before…”
Alan takes this the other direction: “Wait a minute, we’re getting heckled by the audience..someone in the front row saying “YOU’VE DONE THIIIS! THIS WAS ON DAVE ON TUESDAY!”

Brian mentions that David Prowse thought his west-country accent would be used for Darth Vader
Alan: “Darth Vader on a big tractor…tunneling down the corridors of the Death Star, with a bit of straw”
Stephen, under his breath, contributes: “…daaarf.”
Alan, nodding: “DAARF. MISTER DARRF TO YOU.”

Jason asks a question about if they really had the skull-and-crossbones flag, and Stephen says they already covered that as well, and “Alan will tell you all about it.”
Alan, buzzing in: “JOLLY ROGER.”
Stephen gives him a look, not exactly welcoming him to do this.
Alan: “It’s been 10 years, Stephen, and I’ve finally come around to it. IT’S TIME FOR A JOLLY ROGER. [realizing where this is going] AN EYE-WATERING JOLLY ROGER.”

Jason asks if the difference between Alcatraz and a medieval prison is “that you can’t get out? Because Alcatraz is famous…”

Brian is surprised by the revelation that Stephen did time in prison
Stephen: “OHHH, I had a CHECKERED past…”
Brian, to Alan: “is this a can of worms?”
Alan: “Four years ago, now…we’ve moved on, Brian, we’ve moved on…”

Stephen prefaces this next one with “don’t take this question personally, Alan, I didn’t write this question…now WHAT SORT OF PERSON would say that Alan has a very small penis?”
Alan, chuckling: “…my wife?”
Stephen: “NOO!”

It’s actually a genius gag, about defamation, and someone writing a character based off Alan who has a small penis.
Stephen: “The idea is he’ll never sue because he’ll never say ‘this is obviously based on me.’ Because no one will say ‘IT’S OBVIOUSLY BASED ON ME BECAUSE MY NAME’S LIKE THAT AND I’VE GOT A SMAL- oh, hang on…”

Because of a digression Brian makes, Stephen mentions the old Jewish will-reading joke, “and to my brother Louie who always said he wanted to be mentioned in my will…HELLO LOUIE!”

There’s a conversation about heckling, and Stephen mentions that someone might say “something like ‘If I wanted to eat shit from you, I’d squeeze your head”
Jason and Rhys:
Screen Shot 2020-01-08 at 6.02.17 PM.pngJason: “…what else would they say?”

Stephen mentions the US bit of ‘absence of malice’, where you can get away with stating that if there’s absolutely no malicious intent.
Brian: “It’s very very tiny, but it’s wonderful!”

Stephen keeps listing off ways you can get away with saying Alan has a small penis.
Stephen: “One is opinion, which is “it’s just my opinion, compared to mine it’s small, okay?”
Rhys: “It’s a review! One star!”
Stephen: “The other is public interest. THE PUBLIC HAS A RIGHT TO KNOW THE SIZE OF ALAN DAVIES’ PENIS!”
That had me laughing
Stephen: “The other is consent- he AGREED WITH ME about the size of his penis.”

This show has Stephen just casually dropping “motherfucker” in an example: “it’d be like if I called you one of the unacceptable taboo swear words. If I called you a motherfucker. It’s not defaming you, whereas if I actually wrote down that I actually believed you incestuously DID have sex with your mother, that would be defamatory.”
Jason ever-so-quick: “Not with a penis that size!”
Alan: “Not from there, it’s much smaller..”Aw man, I wasn’t expecting much  from this dynamic, but everybody’s bringing something. Even Brian, who’s usually a supplier of knowledge, is having VERY funny moments

And then:
Screen Shot 2020-01-08 at 6.12.48 PM.png

Screen Shot 2020-01-08 at 6.13.13 PM.pngSLAM!
Screen Shot 2020-01-08 at 6.13.23 PM.png
Dear god, I missed covering Alan
Brian, pressing his buzzer: “RISE.”

Stephen asks what genre of reality TV was started by King Charlemagne’s father:
Rhys: “I’m a King, Get Me Out of Here?”

Stephen: “I can tell you it was presented by Dale Winton.”
Jason, taking him literally: “Supermarket Sweep?”

Stephen, to Rhys: “You probably don’t know who Dale Winton is, do you?”
Rhys: “Chap or lady?”
Stephen, knowing the joke: “AUDIENCE, BEHAVE.”

Stephen mentions this method of testing called an Ordeal
Rhys: “…Ordeal or No Ordeal”

Screen Shot 2020-01-08 at 6.19.10 PM.pngStephen: “I don’t know WHAT that’s about…”
Alan: “Someone said he has a small penis…”
James: “Are you a real doctor?”

The conversation on Touch the Truck (a British cousin of Hands on a Hardbody) is interesting, because for some reason Jason hadn’t heard of it.
Brian: “well it doesn’t do anything, you just stand there..”
Jason: “yeah, it’s going 80 miles an hour…”

Rhys says that in NZ they still do a similar contest via radio, which has some funny lines from Jason (“HE’S STILL TOUCHING IT, HE’S STILL TOUCHING IT”), and Rhys, doing an impression of said radio broadcast.

On a question involving Jedward [and a behind-screen photo of Jedward in judge wigs], Stephen asks Rhys if he’s heard of them as well
Rhys: “…are they judges?”
Alan: “…they’re conjoined twin judges..”
And then Alan just tries convincing Stephen that they really are conjoined twins

Stephen: “they do look a little strange, but that’s probably cause of the wig business”
Jason: “no, nothing to do with the wig…”

Alan halfway through complains that he’s so hungry he can barely concentrate, so he literally asks anyone in the audience if they have someone to eat- suddenly, a well-endowed woman from the audience comes down with a tin of flapjacks, asks Alan for a kiss on the cheek, fist-pumps, and exits. It’s a bizarre yet wholesome moment

Stephen: “Why should you not leave a judge in a room on his own?”
Alan, chuckling: “He might sentence himself!”

Jason: “I used to work at the crown courts in Manchester, as a, uh…the accused.”
Perfect  delivery there

Jason has nice insight here because his folks were stenographers, so he has a lot of actual knowledge to work with, which  is nice

There’s a nice gag about how Judges can’t see or hear you if you’ve got an objectionable item of clothing, and Jason suggests you just take off various items of clothing until they go “OH, HELLLOOOO!”

Stephen talks about a miser who, because he left his glasses at home, couldn’t sign his will, went home and died, and the proceeding trial lasted from 1798 until 1915. He asks why:
Rhys: “The jury all died.”
Alan: “All the Jennings died.”
Rhys: “They found his glasses!”

Stephen jokes that when he dies, Alan can have his “collection of Wagner records”
Brian: “Make him sign it now!”

Rhys has an anecdote about failing an observational exam in the army, and failing to notice an entire tank hiding in the bush

Stephen: “And finally, why would I encourage a psychopath to eyeball my crotch?”
Jason: “This is one of those where I don’t think we want to know the real answer..”

Stephen: “Why don’t we try it? Let’s all get up and show each other our genitals?”
And sure enough, everyone stands…

Stephen: “A lot of people are getting their camera out…”
Brian, looking at the audience: “he’s got a telephoto lens..”
Alan, back to the top of the show: “you can’t see mine from here, you’ll have to come nearer..”

Of course, the coverage strategically cuts out before they can drop trou, and picks up back after they’re done. Heh.

Stephen: “And, uh, I can see why they call you Brian Cox, now…”

Brian somehow ends up in last, despite the lack of televised klaxons
Also, Stephen accidentally calls Jason ‘Janus’.
ALAN SOMEHOW WINS. “With a towering 5 inches-SORRY”

Overall: I am very glad I watched this, as this was a tour-de-force of an episode. Everything just felt really strong, as all 4 panelists were able to collaborate with each other despite their QI experience. Rhys had the quietest night but still had some very funny moments, Brian was quieter than last time but was still excellent and funny all night along with being knowledgeable. Jason was the big takeaway, as he already seemed comfortable and fun on a program he’d ace several more times. And Alan and Stephen seemed to be in great moods tonight. So many fun gags and runners, a lot of very interesting law-related questions (loved the penis runner, and the guy who lost his glasses). It did wear off towards the end, but I still really enjoyed this episode, and way more than I’d thought

MVP: Alan
Best Guest: Jason
Show Winner: Alan
Best QI Fact: Jennings’ will
Best Runner: Alan’s penis

QI Watchdown: J11 (Jumpers), or I See a Theme is Emerging

I know I’ve been on a Whose Line kick lately, and I might fit in one more WL tonight, but…dammit, I miss QI. I haven’t covered a QI episode in six months, and we’ve gotten to the 5th anniversary of me starting this damn Watchdown and I don’t make it much of a priority anymore. And it’s not that I dislike QI. Far from it. It’s just it’s a little more high-maintenance than a WL, as it’s longer and takes more concentration. Also, this is the series of QI where Stephen was at his most emotionally occupied, as he was struggling with his own bipolar disorder due to interviewing several documentary subjects about it.

I have been told that this is Stephen’s most un-Stephen QI, as he’s very distracted and depressed throughout. Which is partially why this one’s taken so long for me to cover. Still, it deserves a viewing like all the rest, so here we go.

This show features a panel consisting of Ross Noble and Bill Bailey, who I have no doubt will lift the mood of this show, and Julian Clary, who hasn’t been on since Series D and is always an odd but intriguing fit to this show.

Yeah, already I can see from his eyebrows and eyes that his mind’s in another place.

The buzzers are all jump-related songs: Julian’s is ‘Jump Around’ by House of Pain, which he immediately asks Ross “who is this?”. Once it finishes, he turns to Stephen and goes “well, I’m not happy.” Ross’s is ‘Jump for my love’ by the Pointer Sisters, which he loves. Bill’s is ‘Jump’ by Van Halen. Alan’s…and for the record I guessed this one, is “Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport”

Stephen asks the panel to give their impression of Mexican Jumping Beans, and Ross goes the route I thought Alan would go: “HELLO DERE, WE ARE JUMPEEING BEEEANS.”

Stephen explains that when they ordered the jumping beans online, they “arrived in full jumping form, but they have since died.”
Ross, though, is miming that the beans are out of control

Julian: “I think you’ve been had- this is a hazelnut…”

Julian has another great line: “How were they mistreated, then? Because SPRINGWATCH WILL HEAR OF THIS…”
Ross: “Can we revive them with some powdered Doritos?”
[Doritos is another word that just sounds so good when Ross Noble says it]

Bill: “Or just crack one of ’em open, there’s something inside”
Alan: “A little battery…”

Stephen: “What’s unusual about Bailey’s pocket mouse?”
Screen Shot 2019-10-10 at 4.50.11 PM.png

Julian guesses that the Bailey’s pocket mouse “is a desert mouse that doesn’t drink”
Ross: “OR it does drink, but only Bailey’s.”

Stephen: “In fact, there’s only a few other animals who’ve been able to survive off of [the plant]”
Alan: “Pete Burns.”
[Somewhere, Mark Lamarr has a PTSD flashback]
Stephen: “Pete Burns is one…Shaun Ryder is another…”

Even in his slower mood, Stephen is able to bring out his Scottish accent to recite a Billy Connolly routine about Jojoba.

Stephen, starting an anecdote: “I remember the first time he was elected president of Israel-”
Alan: “Billy Connolly was?”
Stephen holds a finger, trying not to crack

This bit, about Stephen having a random phone call with Connolly where he just keeps repeating “BENJAMIN NETANYAHUUUU?”, is fantastic.

Julian: “Sometimes Paul O’Grady phones me up and goes ‘OHHH’AAYYEAYYYE’-FOOKIN’SAYAAAUUGHH”
Julian, puzzled: “…he doesn’t say ‘No Don’t, that’s Frankie Howerd.”

Ross guesses that ‘Jolly Jumpers on their Skyscrapers’ is a Cockney Rhyming slang…but he forgets what it’d rhyme with.”
Alan: “It rhymes with ‘rapers’, that’s all I know…”

Stephen: “Go back in time, before tall buildings. What was a skyscraper before then-”
Alan: “A tree?”
I love Alan.
Julian: “Was it an erection?”
Screen Shot 2019-10-10 at 5.02.48 PM.png

Stephen shows a clip of…HIMSELF…doing a bungee jump off the bridge in Queensland where AJ Hackett perfected the art of it. Which is a nice touch

Alan, reminiscing with Bill: “What about the time we went scuba-diving and your mask was on too tight?”
Bill: “Oh, no, I don’t really-”
Alan: “His eyes nearly popped out his head!”
And Alan’s dying at this. Poor Bill.

Alan: “We were going, looking at Bill, ‘CHECK HE’S ALRIGHT, CHECK HE’S ALRIGHT’, and when we found out he was alright I LAUGHED…”
Bill: “WAITWAITWAITWAIT…REWIND…CAN WE JUST GO BACK TO THE BIT WHEN YOU SAID “Can we check if he’s alright you were laughing your head off”. You were laughing from the minute my face came out of the water…”

Stephen: “Now, how can these weights give you an extra six and a half inches”
Alan: “…hang them from your cock.”

Bill, holding one of the weights: “This is the new greek currency…”

Ross, using the weight as a phone: “Hang on a sec, I’ll just get Wilma…”

Ross: “The mad thing is, if Bill and I were to put these two things together, we would unleash the apocalypse…”

On the footage of dyke-jumpers in Holland, Ross: “They should just do that instead of pole dancing, like they should have a loose brass pole, and then a woman in her pants runs out…”

The ‘phoning a catfish’ tactile round is kinda convoluted, but I got a laugh out of Bill going at Alan with one of the jumper cables, and the panicked ‘AAH’ Alan emits.

Bill starts explaining how the electrical currents work on a phone, and Alan starts pointing them out on the phone prop he has, in an old-timey informational video voice. Bill, getting the picture, gets his pipe and continues the genre change.

Ross: “I think you’ve connected the same wire to itself…”
Bill: “Yes, there’s a few teasing problems…”

Stephen: “How about Jumping Camels?”
Bill: “What, like…without any kind of a chit-chat before, just…”

The middle bit of this episode has dragged a bit, and it’s not really anyone’s fault. It’s just not coming up with good enough stuff to match the strong opening we had.

Stephen: “What did the environmentalist say to the camel?”
Alan: “Stop farting. Do they produce a lot of methane?”
Stephen: “Yes, they do. Where in particular?”
Ross: “…out their ass?”
[Dear god]

Stephen: “And they do an enormous amount of Anal Wind Expulsion”
Bill: “They were on a download…”
Ross, who’s DYING at this: “they supported Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark…”

Stephen, aside: “The great thing about Sainsbury’s is it keeps the scum out of Waitro’s…”

Ross explaining why it’s easier for men to “shake” at the restroom after a pee than women is…disgustingly apt. “Cheeky flick, everything’s fine. For a woman to do that, she’s got to…get on a swing…”
And then all four get in on a conversation about a vibrating loo seat. This is the momentum we had earlier, so thank god it’s back.

Stephen: “I have to tell you that the little baby Jesus, who I have never believed in until this very moment, has told me to change the subject”

Bill, as Stephen tries to move on: “Ah, we’re on a roll..”
And then everyone starts cracking up at that.

And then, in the middle of the next conversation, Alan goes back to Bill: “and you’d think…on the vibrating loo you’d need different speeds!”
Bill does an impression of what each of these speeds might sound like, which cracks me up
Stephen, as he begins to go on, starts cracking up himself.

There was a line earlier, involving ‘great big pouchy mouths’, that got Julian excited. So as Stephen describes the Japanese naked ceremony, Bill puts in the phrase “great big pouchy mouths”, so that as the camera holds on Stephen, with Ross and Julian partially obscured, you just hear this loud squeaking noise that MUST be Julian cracking up.

Julian, knowing full-well the innuendo: “I was once tossed through a hatch strapped to a red devil.”
He has to bite his lip as everyone reacts to this.
Julian: “and…my life sort of flashed before me.”

Julian: “I mean, you’re falling so quickly that your cheeks are out here-”
Julian: “…I see a theme is emerging.”

Julian, still holding back a laugh: “And, uh, I had a camera attached to my helmet…”
The audience laughs AGAIN at this
Stephen immediately: “BEHAVE. EVERYONE IS TO BEHAVE.”

Stephen mentions a Robert Cocking
Bill: “Can we have an Innuendo Buzzer?”

Stephen: “You’d get sucked up into the updraft, which you don’t want.”
Ross, of course going there: “You don’t wanna get sucked up in it- or WHAT?”
Bill and Ross start doing the ‘buzzer noises’
Ross: “a massive downdraft- WOOP”

Ross: “He was lying there stiff as a board- WOOP WOOP WOOP.”

As Stephen shows a clip of an avalanche coming towards camera on the behind-screens
Alan: “I’d love it if it came over Julian and Ross”

Alright, Stephen’s Square Bubble jolly jape is pretty damn cool, as well as his zeal towards it throughout

Overall: Yes, there was a mid-show lull, and yes Stephen was a bit slower and more lethargic than usual…but damn, I enjoyed this one. Just the idea of putting Bill and Ross on the same panel was quite the inspired one, as the two played off each other, and Alan, beautifully. Julian kept more to himself, but he still had some really fun lines and moments, perhaps a bit more active than Differences. I think this is below some of the other quality shows from Series J (Jargon, J-Places and Journalism are my top 3 so far), but still a very solid and fun show.

MVP: Bill
Best Guest: Ross
Show Winner: Bill
Best QI Fact: phoning a catfish
Best Runner: Innuendo Alarm

QI Watchdown: J10 (Jungles), or I’m Not Talking to you Anymore

So…this is one I’ve been waiting to talk about for a while. For a number of reasons.

Firstly, I want to talk about what QI did with panel-stacking this series (and onward). Over the next few series’, BBC would employ a rule that panel shows should have at least one female panelist, and/or a minority, every show. Which is fine, as it gives opportunities to people who may not get them often. But also around this time, QI would get into a habit of deliberately stagnating panelists, and trying to mix in new talent. A lot of shows in this series, and others, would have a format of ‘one anchor, one joke-supplier and one newbie/guest’. For example, last show had Ross as an anchor, Sue as a joke supplier, and Julia as a guest/newbie. This is a far cry from the early series’ idea of ‘let’s just put a combination of three people we like on here’, which…worked a bit better.

So, if we’re going by ‘anchor-joke supplier-guest/newbie’…then what the fuck are we to make of THIS lineup?

Our anchor would be Reginald D. Hunter, who’s only been on once before, and didn’t do a great job of it, talking over the rest of the panel a great deal. He’s the anchor because the other two haven’t been on QI before.
Our joke supplier would be Greg Proops, who…actually is a nice fit for QI, as he does bill himself as ‘the smartest person in the world’, and, as readers should know, is a favorite of mine. As a matter of fact, he would have been a great person to host a US version of QI.
Our guest is David O’Doherty, another person who seems nominally like a good fit, but needs a good room if he wants to really gel well, and…I’m not sure if this is one.

So…a panel of two newbies and Reg D. Hunter. This will be…interesting.

Greg seems amused by David’s bird buzzer. All the first three are loud, wild animals; Alan’s is a cricket.

Stephen: “Where does the lion sleep tonight…”
Panel: “…….”
Alan: “Is this gonna be a trick, where they don’t sleep in the night?”
Greg: “Or they don’t sleep in the jungle?”
Stephen: “You’re right-”
Greg: “Man, I am NAILING this game…”

Stephen: “Because, where do lions live?”
David: “…..office buildings.”
Good to have David back on this blog.
Alan: “…I was gonna say Luton, I dunno why…”

About lions eating other animals for nutrients
Reg: “So instead of eating vegetables…you eat something that DOES eat vegetables.”
Greg: “I feel better about my diet now…”

Alan slyly says ‘Lion King’ before Stephen does, then turns to Greg, smirks, and goes “I’ll get points for that.”
Greg: “Will you?”
Alan nods. It’s like he’s teaching Greg how to QI. This will come into play later on.

On revealing the original writer of the Lion Sleeps Tonight only got a pound for doing so, Stephen brings it back to the actual ‘Lion Sleeps Tonight’ thing being a ‘black lie’
Alan: “He doesn’t sleep in the jungle, he doesn’t sleep at night, and he’s lucky to get a pound for it…”

Stephen: “What would be the best way for Tarzan to get around the jungle?”
Reg: “Well, uh, without a family, I would guess…”

Alan: “He gets around by swimming, and swinging on [to Greg] what is it called?”
Greg: “…vines…”
Then, immediately, Alan points to Greg as it goes off, as he set him up for it.
Screen Shot 2019-01-27 at 3.00.12 PM.png
He bangs on his buzzer in disgust.

Stephen: “Oh, Alan, you wicked, wicked…”
Alan: “I feel really good tonight…I feel I’ve finally nailed this game…”
Greg: “I didn’t know you were gonna use your jedi powers on me, Davies….I come in here with every good intention, and the next thing I know I’m providing answers to you…”

Greg talks about gibbons swinging from vines, and Stephen responds by playing a clip of one, which Greg’s initially kinda surprised they had supplied already.
Alan, buzzing in, points to the screen: “Orangutan.”
He then turns to Greg, and goes “four.”

Greg: “I’d like to say that Alan is tarzan’s chimp, because cheetahs never prosper.”

Reg has a ‘heard it through the grapevine’ joke that I saw coming a mile away. Also, David has said one line so far.

Alan, after hearing that Caesar birthed the words Kaiser and Czar, says to Greg ‘see, you learn something new everyday’
Greg: “I’m not talking to you anymore.”

After Stephen congratulates Alan for another right answer, Reg sums up the whole show: “Yeah, it’s interesting that the two people that be on this show every week are doing the best…”

Stephen mentions that anything you put in front of a bonobo chimp, ‘it will shag’.
Alan: “Even Russell Brand?”

Stephen: “About 8% of lion sex is gay.”
Reg reacts to this a bit: “So did you get that from, like, a book about lion facts, or did you get that from a gay man?”

Stephen: “But there’s only one species that exhibits homophobia, and that’s mankind-”
Alan: “I really thought you were gonna say elephants then…”

Greg: “I mean, how did they get the figure 8%? That’s a lot of research. I mean, I saw the Lion King and I didn’t see any of that going on…but I did feel the love…”
Stephen: “The circle of life had a whole new meaning, didn’t it?”

Of course David is gonna get a few questions right in this jungle-animal-themed QI. He literally wrote a book about pandas. This is one of his specialized subjects…which is why I’m surprised he’s not saying more.

Greg gets a right answer in saying the red-faced monkey is South American. He looks next to him, smirks, and goes “I’m comin’ up on a point, Alan.” I am loving the Greg-Alan dynamic so far. It’s just really working. Also, because it’s two of the fringe TV stars of the 90s, Greg from Whose Line and Alan from Jonathan Creek, coming together and goofing off.

Stephen brings up a point that seeing animals in cages in zoos is quite depressing.
David: “Also, the ice cream at zoos is very expensive, so that’s another depressing aspect…”

Stephen, talking about the ‘plastron’ denotations: “A turtle’s underbelly is also called a plastron, and so…is a man’s stiff…formal…shirt-front.”
Greg: [fans himself]

On ants converging together to float on water for transportation:
David: “That’s how I got here from Dublin this morning…”

Stephen: “But we do have an interesting experiment- I do love to do an experiment-”
Alan, to Greg: “He DOES love to do an experiment.”
This didn’t get a lot of response, but I still love the ‘Alan explaining QI to Greg’ runner.

Stephen’s experiment, involving the weight of sand in water, is a very cool one, and causes Alan and David to yell “WITCHCRAFT” and “SORCERY” as he does it.

Stephen, like last episode, tries to get around mentioning a brand name but lampshades exactly what it does “and it rhymes with something called GotchScard”.

Stephen mentions a kangaroo that smells of curry, and Alan goes into an Australian accent. One show short of having an actual Australian in the room…which is odd, considering the amount of Oceanians on this series.

On the animal, bearcat, that smells like freshly baked popcorn
Alan: “Is it slightly overpriced? And is the medium one the exact same price as the large one?”
David: “Their birth is apparently unique, because they’re born as a very small egg, and then on a hot day…they just pop into the air…”

Stephen asks what a specific butterfly smells like
Alan: “…finger of fudge.”
Stephen: “….YES!”
Alan: “WHAT???”

Stephen: “I’ve got to give it to you, because the answer is chocolate.”
Alan: [fist-bumps Greg]
David: “You two have developed a bizarre understanding…”

David, taking this the wrong way: “So chocolate is ground-up butterflies?”
Okay, he’s finally getting some good stuff out there

Greg has some good points about the Amazons who settled in North America, and the pigs that killed off most of the population with infectious diseases. Yeah, in addition to being really funny, he also aces the informational part of the show, which makes me wonder why, especially with his friend Sandi hosting the show now, he hasn’t been back on the program.

On the larva eating the frog from the outside
David: “He was a prince as well!”

Reg, after the clip: “Wait a minute, I didn’t see the end, who won?”
Stephen: “We were too tasteful to show you the outcome.”
David: “They shake hands, and they go ‘we’ve both learned a valuable lesson here…”

Reg: “Did you know that 8% of predator-pray relationships are homosexual?”

On the clip of a frog waving his arms
Reg: “I’m thinking…is there a plane-load of frogs coming in?”
David, getting it, does the sort of ‘waving the plane in’ hand signals

Stephen, still on frogs: “There are other ways of catching mates, which are unusual”
Alan: “…the internet.”

Stephen talks about the species of spider that attaches their sperm to their antennae, and waves them around, saying essentially “I’ve got some sperm for you!”
Reg: “I used to do that to my ex-girlfriend…”
Stephen: “Why am I not surprised by the word ‘ex’ in there?”

Stephen: “Alan, what I’d like you to do is press your buzzer.”
Alan, knowing Stephen: “….”
Stephen: “It’s not a trap-”
Alan: “It’s GONNA BE a trap…”

Stephen asks him what’s making the cricket noise on his buzzer
Alan: “…it’s one of two things…it’s either the one that makes the noise by inflating its thorax…or the one that makes the noise by rubbing its back legs together.”
Alan: “…so…I think it was…the first one…”

Stephen says that the ‘crickets rub their hind legs’ thing is “a weird fallacy that people cling to. I’ve clung to fallacies…”
Alan turns…realizes what this sounds like, and shakes his head. David’s cracking a bit too. Alan just turns to Greg, as he has all episode, and goes “he said it’s a weird phallus that people cling to! He said that!”
Greg: “He said…fallacies! That means ‘many phalluses’

Stephen, continuing: “‘rubbing body pa-‘ oh god, it’s getting worse, sorry…”

Stephen mentions the Snowy Tree Cricket…which was a plot point on an episode of Big Bang Theory. I can’t not correlate that.

Stephen says that this cricket can, with a mathematical formula, predict temperature.
David: “I’d still prefer a thermometer up my bum if I was in hospital…”

Stephen: “What lives underwater, and is the loudest animal in the world for its size.”
Greg, channeling Rich Hall: “Oprah.”
Alan: “…is it gonna be a blue whale.
Stephen: “OHHHHHHH”

Stephen: “You know those things that seem to walk on water, d’you know what they’re called?”
David, completely serious: “…Our Lord?”

The Jolly Jape involves rubbing a rod to produce a high pitched frequency which an insect uses as a phallus to attract mates. It’s very amusing, and Alan and Stephen have the loudest noises, but Alan, sighing afterward, punctuates it by going “no females have attracted, Stephen”

Then, Alan starts doing it from under the table, giving an even louder sound.
David: “And he’s doing THAT with his penis!”
Greg: “yeah, he put the rod down hours ago…”

Stephen: “Is a zebra black with white stripes or white with black stripes?”
Alan: “Yes”
Stephen: “Which?”
Alan: “…black with [to Greg] what do YOU think?”

Reg: “I’d say they’re black with white lines.”
Stephen: “Well, they’re actually white with black stripes.”
Reg: “Well, you WOULD say that, white man.”
Somewhere, Nish Kumar encounters his bit.

Proof that this show works: at literally the eleventh hour, right before Stephen announces the scores, David comes up with ‘The Credible Hulk’, which is a concept that Stephen finds admirable, and Greg finds hysterical. So literally, last beat of the show, and the main contributors [read: everyone but Reg] are all giggling at ‘The Credible Hulk’

Despite Alan’s great start, he still ends up losing, which is sad.

Overall: From the comments section, I was prepared for a dull, disjointed QI…which is NOT AT ALL the one I got. Not even remotely. Greg, Alan and David were all collaborating, doing fun gags, and keeping the spirit of the game intact, while Stephen and Alan were especially sharp. Greg had a fantastic time, especially in sitting next to Alan while he essentially explained the game to him. David was a bit quieter, but definitely had funnier moments down the stretch. Reg…kept to himself, and his few funny moments were at the expense of the show’s integrity, or easy, low blows. He’s only on one or two more of these, but hopefully, like tonight, there’ll be a panel to supplant his energy. Definitely a favorite of mine on the season so far, even if it did have a lull or two.

MVP: Alan
Best Guest: Greg
Show Winner: Reg
Best QI Fact: Ants converging for transportation
Best Runner: Alan’s asides to Greg

QI Watchdown: J9 (Jeopardy), or PUT THE F–KING SAFETY GOGGLES ON.

After another random absence from me, we crack on with Series J, with an episode featuring trusted anchor Ross Noble in his second of three episodes this series, trusted goof Sue Perkins in her third of three appearances this series (both of the prior ones being standout ones), and another member of the Australian invasion of this series, Julia Zemiro, who’s an Australian TV personality and comic, having been on Thank God You’re Here a few times. She also shows up on a few more QIs, so hopefully she’ll have a nice showing here.

The buzzers are all danger-themed. Julia’s is the theme from Psycho, which she relishes. Sue’s is the theme from Jaws, which she chuckles at, then tries to dance to. Ross is an old-timey ‘dun-dun-dun’ sort of thing, which he reacts accordingly to. Alan’s is just ‘vehicle reversing’.

Stephen starts by revealing that people normally spill coffee in 7 to 10 steps of walking. Ross responds by saying that long jumpers must never spill, as it only takes them three to do a long jump, and by then they’ll already have drank the coffee. Just the right amount of bizarre.

Stephen, on the coffee question, mentions something called ‘anular ring baffles’, which Alan points out, and the double entendre game is already on.
Ross: “Let me tell you, the amount of times my anular has been baffled…”
Alan: “Baffle your ring, sir?”

And then, Alan: “If you put a baffle in your anus, does that mean you’ll have quiet farts?”
Stephen bites down on his glasses for a moment, sighs, and goes “…I suppose it would…UNTIL pressure builds up to such a state…”
Alan: “Then it could be lethal”
Stephen: “Then you could have someone eye out in the aisle at waitro’s.”
Alan, as Stephen goes on: “THHHBBTT. Baffle your ring, sir?”

There’s a really good discussion on why not to march in time on the Albert bridge, as enough marching would set off an oscillation and make the bridge unstable.
Ross: “And that’s why…Michael Flatley can never get north of the Thames. He’s FURIOUS! He’s always wanted to get to Madam Tussauds…but he’s at the Elephant and Castle going ‘AAAAH, AY CAN’T BELIEVE IT!”

Stephen: “Now, what’s smaller than the moon, and keeps moving the sea around?”
Ross: “Is it a seal on caffeine?”
Alan: “Is it one of our OTHER moons?”

Alan: “….this better be the blue whale.”
Stephen: “…it so is NOT the blue whale.”

Screen Shot 2019-01-26 at 10.04.48 PM.png
Stephen: “How many jellyfish are pictured here?”
Ross: “Is it one with a very flamboyant hat on?”
Ross: “yes, but where are the words ‘with a very flamboyant hat on’?”

Stephen says that Portugese Man of War stings are very common in Australia
Julia: “Toughens you up, though. I mean, that’s life, isn’t it?”
Stephen: “One day it’ll toughen you up enough to win a test match against us.”
Julia rolls her eyes, and feigns pulling a Preston and walking off.

Stephen: “What is Australia’s deadliest creature, though-”
Julia, buzzing in immediately: “Rupert Murdoch.”
Surprisingly there’s no Klaxon for this.
Stephen: “Excluding a member of the human race, which…I’m not sure that does or not…”

Sue talks through a specific spider, but once the klaxon buzzes halfway through her describing it, she just starts singing it. I love that she has an upbeat attitude to getting deductions.

He then presses his buzzer for good measure, basking in the camp of that line.

Stephen does a great impression here of horses overreacting to common things. “RBRBRBRBRBRBRBRB WHAT’S THAT, it’s a HEDGE. RBBBBBBRRBRBBRBRB IT’S A PIECE OF PAPER!”

Ross talks about owning a narcoleptic horse, and it’s a fantastic anecdote, and he ends with the line “and I’ve got a friend over here, and he never came to visit us unfortunately, and he’s got narcolepsy himself, and THAT would have been the funniest thing…he would have to be on the horse, and if they got it in TIME- obviously it’d be a bit rubbish if he was awake and the horse went…”

Ross: “Did you see that woman who, she had her bum bitten off by a shark…and, you know how they do face transplants?”
Sue cracks up
Ross, to Sue: “No, they didn’t put a face on her bum…”
Stephen: “They did that to Anne Widdicombe…”
Ross, and the audience, wince at that one

Stephen, on this dinosaur question: “But no dinosaur was bigger than what? The biggest living creature that has ever existed on the planet.”
Alan: “…the T-Rex?”
Julia sneaks in: ‘the blue whale’
Alan takes a moment, sighs and facepalms.

Alan has a great bit talking about the two servants of the blind king who loved war, saying they essentially did a sound version of the battle by clanging their swords together and whistling arrows.

This show’s humor is coming from anecdotes and personal bits, rather than collaboration. Which…isn’t bad, it’s just not as effective as it could be.

Sue talks about doing the Wall of Death, where the bike keeps you ’round the curve with centripetal force.
Sue: “It was fun, my dad detached his retina.”
Ross: “What, before you got on, just ‘well, here we go'” [mimes taking them out]

Stephen describes this Euthanasia Rollercoaster, which kills the person with a huge drop and force.
Sue: “Have Chessington World of Adventure bought it yet?”
[No, but they have banned Hugh Dennis from riding it]

Ross: “You could build a chapel at the end…and then, after the funeral, you get a picture of your loved one…”
Ross is just killing it this show. Sue and Julia are fine, but much quieter and less funny than Ross so far

Stephen: “So, what’s the biggest dead body in the world.”
Alan, with a pause: “…blue whale.”
Stephen: “NOOO…”
Tons of applause for this

Stephen: “I’ll give you a hint, it’s a body of water”
Alan: “The dead sea”
Stephen: “OHHHHHH”

Stephen, still playing with the blue whale runner, asks what weighs as much as an blue whale and lives in the sea
Alan: “..an elephant on holiday.”

Stephen mentions that nobody can really go deep enough to find out what blue whales really do
Sue: “Just gossiping”
Stephen: “Or having quizzes in which people say ‘is the answer Alan Davies?”

Stephen talks about picking your nose leading to vulnerability to meningitis and syphilis
Ross, not at all serious: “yeah, that’s how you get syphilis”
Alan: “Yeah, it slightly depends what you’re picking it WITH…”
Ross: “That’s how ya explain it to the wife- ‘NO, I WAS JUST PICKIN’ ME NOSE!”

I love the little clapping Ross does when Stephen reveals he’s going to set fire to something in the studio

Stephen puts something out wrong for the Jolly Jape, says ‘the man in my ear is furious with me’.
Stephen, trying to move on: “No,”
Stephen: “…he was MUCH gentler than that…”

Stephen: “I’ve been told to tell you NOT to try this at home”
Ross: “Try it in someone else’s home…”

Stephen: “What I have hear is some normal, everyday washing-up liquid. We’re not allowed to mention its Fairy- NAME.”

Ross, as Stephen points out all the things on his table: “Oh, this is like going on a picnic with Heston Blumenthal…”

Alan: “When are you going to put the safety goggles on, Stephen?”
Stephen: “I’m about to now, because I’m about to open the bottle of acid”
Alan, again as the guy in the booth: “PUT THE FUCKING GOGGLES ON.”

Ross: “Can I just say something…YOU’RE putting on safety goggles…YOU’RE putting on a mask…”
Stephen: “You’re fine, you’re expendable.”
Alan goes and hides behind his notebook

There’s a moment where he’s spurting the bubbles with water…and it’s not doing anything, where Stephen realizes he may have fouled it up, and goes “oh GOD”. But then the bubbles catch fire, and it’s all good.

I will say, the Jolly Jape is one of the better ones we’ve had this season, and then right at it’s wrapping up, we hear Alan, again, going “PUT THE FUCKING LID ON THE ACID.”

It’s a good sign when as Stephen reads the scores, he has to stop because the hydrogen smell is still putting off Alan and Julia. Just says a lot about the dynamic.

Alan somehow doesn’t get last, only third.

Overall: A wild show. A ton of lulls, and a disappointing performance from Julia, who took an informational angle, but Alan and Ross were on a roll, Sue had some good lines, and the Jolly Jape was a definite highlight. Definitely not a series highlight, but…something about the dynamic, the wild little moments, and the amount of callbacks, like the other moons, the headless chicken, and, of course, the blue whale, boosted this one’s resume a bit.

MVP: Alan
Best Guest: Ross
Show Winner: Sue
Best QI Fact: Euthanasia Rollercoaster
Best Runner: Baffling the rings.

QI Watchdown: J8 (Jumble), or What Have You Done with Stephen Fry?

This QI marks the final appearances for two QI mainstays who helped bridge the way for the show’s success: Dara O’Briain, who’s had numerous funny shows over the years, and John Sessions, the famous git, who’s provided numerous amounts of intelligent material, but in the years since his previous appearance has become more of a relic to the show’s previous emphasis on fact rather than funny. Jo Brand is also onhand, to make this feel…oddly enough like a Series B show. For a show that seemed to be zooming ahead and enlisting modern comedy figures, this seemed an odd move (and if you’d like an odder move by QI, check back in two shows).

The buzzers all seem to be J-related songs: Jo’s is ‘Jenny from the Block’ by J. Lo, which she responds to with a shrug.
John’s amusingly, is ’99 Problems’ by Jay-Z, which he bobs along to in one of the most ill-fitting things I’ve seen in a while.
Stephen: “I’ll give you 10 points if you know who that was!”
John, horrified: “Uhhh…Usher!”
Stephen, facepalming: “I think ‘J’ would have helped you”
John: “Jay-Z?”
Stephen: “Well, it’s too late NOW…”
Dara gets a Jessie J tune, which he guesses obviously, because Dara is generally savvy with music [see his Pliers reference from Mock the Week…or his Colonel Abrams reference from Mock the Week]

Alan’s is the Alphabet song by Perry Como
Alan: “Not a J name, is it?”
Jo: “I think it might have been his brother, Jerry Como”

From the very first question, John’s pedantic, answer-knowing nature is immediately relevant. A lot of people seem to think that John was the one that Stephen alluded to always asking for the answers in advance. While I still believe that person was Rory McGrath, I’m certainly not ruling out John.

John talks about a jockey who’d put the whip up his own arse. “It’s a variation on the photocopier thing.”
Dara, not completely following: “…whereas you put the photocopier up your own arse?”
Stephen: “Oh, surely we’ve all been there.”

Stephen, reading from his cards, says that “these don’t have the effect of horsing a speed up- speeding a horse up, sorry.”
They cut to Jo, who looks very confused.
Stephen inspects his glasses.
Dara: “I don’t mean to get all street on you, but when you horse your speed up…it’s when you get your meth and mix heroin in with it…THAT will make you run.”
Alan: “What have you done with Stephen Fry???”

Jo, on the camel-racing question: “Please, may I tell you the only camel joke that I know? Kay, there’s two guys in the army, out on the desert. And there’s a new recruit, and there are no women around at all, and the new recruit says “what d’we do for sex?”, and the guy says “I’m afraid it’s the camels.” And later on, they’re all let out towards the camels, and the old bloke’s running really fast, and the young guy says “what’re you doing, it’s only a camel?” And the guy goes “yeah, but you don’t wanna get an ugly one, do you?”
As Stephen moves on Dara holds up a hand: “I’m sorry, but…there IS another camel joke…”
Dara takes it from the exact same starting point, “I’m afraid it’s the camels, and late at night, the guy goes ‘I can’t take it anymore, I’m as horny as hell’, and he takes off and he rides the camel. And he comes back, and goes “well, that’s the best we can do”. And the older guy says, well, actually, when I said ‘we got the camels’, we normally, eh, ride them into town…”
Okay, THAT is perfect.

Stephen asks for another sport that involves camels. Jo guesses smoking.
Alan: “Chess!”
Stephen: “…I look at you, Alan, and I wonder…where these things grow. Where they come from…”
Alan: “…it’d just be nice to see, wouldn’t it?”

John talks of the 30s vaudeville act that named himself Nosmo King after the double doors that spelled out No Smoking.
Dara: “But he wasn’t tempted to call himself…’Fi Reexit’ or something like that?”
Stephen: “Emerge….Encyexit!”
Alan, as Stephen’s going on: “Toi Let!”
Stephen: “Roy…Alcircle!”

Stephen: “Complete the phrase…’pregnant mothers should eat…’
Jo: “…loads….uh, burgers…”

Stephen asks Jo if she had any weird cravings or behaviors during pregnancy
Jo: “I gnawed my husband’s leg occasionally.”
Stephen: “…and that was unusual?”
Jo: “…not as far as our marriage was concerned…”

John mentions that his mother smoked his father’s pipe while she was pregnant, which Dara mentions is such a lovely image. “Tapping it out on the table.”
Alan: “…i thought you were gonna say ‘tapping it out on the belly’
And Dara mimes getting the ash all over the belly. It’s an amusing bit.

Stephen, voicing the concerns of the audience: “…Johnny, you’ve got to stop answering every question…”

Jo completely guesses a definition of an obscure Stephen word…gets it right, and gets the question right, which shocks the hell out of her.

As John gets something wrong
Stephen: “Nice that you’re trying, and don’t be put off…”

Stephen: “If you really want NOT to pee, keep as still as possible-”
Alan: “Clench the end of your cock INCREDIBLY HARD…”
Stephen, post-facepalm: “I’d find it better if you’d get someone else to do that..”

Stephen: “Who gets the most use from Jacobsen’s organ?”
Dara: “Wouldn’t that be MRS. Jacobsen?”

Not a lot is happening in this one. Everyone’s playing really separate games, and John’s excessive knowledge keeps bringing everything to a halt. At least Jo’s disgusting stories lift the mood. She tells one about someone someone pranked with a severed hand, which Alan is repulsed by even before the punchline.
Alan: “Did she ball it into a fist? And then couldn’t get it out?”
Jo: “No, they went in, and she was sitting on the bed eating it.”
That gives an even BIGGER response.

Stephen: “What does a cockroach find absolutely disgusting?”
Alan: “Jeremy Kyle.”
Stephen: “YES! IS THE RIGHT ANSWER! Because, well almost, Jeremy Kyle IS…a human being.”

Stephen’s final note is that any shuffling of cards is a completely new combination of all 52 possibilities, making it a unique shuffle. There are so many different positions of 52 that each card can be that its probability of being repeated is this very, very long positive integer. Not really a math guy, but I’m fascinated by that fact.

Also, this show produced all four scores higher than zero, which is fantastic. It’d be more fantastic if this was a better show.

John technically wins, but Stephen awards the show to himself for that impressive card display, which…if it takes a win away from John Sessions, I’m fine with.

Overall: A very, very weak show. There were funny moments here and there, but the majority of the show consisted of facts that couldn’t get off the ground, John Sessions rattling on, or just lulls in humor. Jo and Dara had funny moments and stories, and that ending card fact is a great one, but I really couldn’t get into this one.

MVP: Dara
Best Guest: Jo
Show Winner: John
Best QI Fact: card combinations
Best Runner: horsing up speed

QI Watchdown: J7 (Journalism), or We’ve Found the Line!

A while back, when I covered the Geometry episode, I noted that QI gradually made a transition from being a fact-based show to being a more comedy-based show with facts, and I denoted that with an episode featuring Johnny Vegas in the same room as Rob Brydon.

This show leads me to believe comedy has won completely. Johnny Vegas, who I once feared but now really enjoy, gets to share a QI with Ross Noble, who I’m very interested to see how he gels with Johnny’s similarly bizarre humor. And…essentially watching, I assume, is Shappi Khorsandi, a comedian who I’ve only seen on an episode of Mock the Week…one where she looked absolutely bored and comatose the whole time. Hopefully she’ll bring a bit more of an A game.

All three primary buzzers are ‘breaking news’ themes: Alan’s is the theme to ‘It’s a Knockout’
Ross: “You’ve actually given us the It’s a Knockout theme, so at any point we can just play that, and just wrestle around in the middle…”

Stephen, asking who might have lived in ‘Daily Mail Model Village’
Shappi: “Initially you’d think a very angry person…who’s quite small…”
[I may have misjudged Shappi…]

The best part about these ‘urgent news’ buzzers is that they have multiple uses throughout the show. Shappi says that she’s afraid to press hers, as every time she does people will think a tragedy has occurred. Ross, to accentuate a point about the Daily Mail’s bombastic ideas, hits his, as an alternative to a ‘ta-da’ kind of thing…which Alan replies with by pressing his It’s a Knockout buzzer. People haven’t had this much fun with their buzzers since…I’d say Series D?

Stephen: “And they were overtaken, by the-”
Shappi: “Guardian village.”

Ross notes that the Wellyn village is full sized, not really model
Johnny, saying his first line of the show: “Did the Daily Mail believe in giants, and think that was a readership they were really missing out on? So they built a model village that for us was normal size, but giants would visit and go ‘OHHH, IT’S TINY!'”
Man, I missed Johnny Vegas…

Shappi talks about how model villages have gotten better now, and when she was a kid, her folks would think a tiny Big Ben was so breathtaking.
Johnny: “Yeah, well your dad didn’t drink. My dad would drink, go to a model village, and go I’M KING KONG!! And just start SMASHIN’ STUFF…Oh, how we’d laugh.”

Stephen: “Who founded the Daily Mail?”
Alan: “Lord Beaverbrook”
Shappi: “Satan.”
Stephen: “Not Lord Beaverbrook, he founded the Express. Satan is closer.”

There’s a digression about drowning being the ‘preferred method’ of suicide, though Johnny explains that it’s not the wildest one, as he mentions ‘gettin’ covered in dog food and going to the zoo’.
Johnny: “It’s not just been a last minute….[covers self] ‘LIOONNSSS..'”
Ross: “Shouldn’t it be…cat food, for the lions?”
Johnny: “ROSS-ROSS…THEY HAVEN’T THOUGHT IT THROUGH…unless they just drown themselves…”

Johnny has been shedding his character a bit more, as he’s been spilling a few interesting bits about people in Japan going to far places on the subway system to commit suicide to avoid high bills. I’m not saying he’s 100% genuine, but he’s not the complete buffoon he was in Series E.
[Also, note that Cockfosters is mentioned here, which immediately makes me think of David Mitchell arguing about it]

Shappi talks about being by Beachy Head, and having a moment of quiet, and all the priests who talk people out of suicide thinking she was as well.
Shappi: “I think it was a bit attention seeking of me, if I’m honest…I was quite down…”
Alan: “What, were you dangling your legs over the edge?”
Shappi: “Yeah, choking myself…”
Alan: “AAHHHHHHHHH…I’m fine, I’m absolutely fine…”

Stephen talks about all these obituary code-phrases.
Stephen: “Tireless raconteur means ‘a crashing bore.’
Alan: “Is it Nick Clegg?”

Alan talks about his wife working in an agency, covering a Rory who died, but thinking it was Rory McGrath: “So anytime someone rang for Rory McGrath, she’d say ‘I’m sorry…'”

Johnny Vegas, on obituaries: “Mine would just say ‘it’s safe to come out now…”

Alan jokes about saying to his wife “if it’s my funeral, tell the hearse driver to floor it”
Ross: “Instead of havin’ a coffin as well, just have the body, so as you’re goin ’round corners, you’re just slammin’ into the windows.”
And both Ross and Alan do impressions of bodies hitting windows. My gosh.

Ross tells a story about setting his dad’s ashes out to sea via a remote control boat, and it’s so ridiculous that everyone, even Johnny, starts cracking up at it.
Johnny, calling back: “And the people from the miniature village were going ‘HELP THAT MAN!”

You can tell this is a great show so far when, after the ‘after I die’ conversation, Stephen has to look at his cards and go “how did we get here???”

After Ross gets an answer spot on about a literal ‘piece of shit’ done up by a bank
Stephen: “How extraordinary you are, Ross Noble. For 20 minutes you’ve been jibbering like an idiot…SUDDENLY you’ve come up with a brilliant answer…”

On the viking poo this bank unearthed:
Johnny: “Did they find this within the bank, or was this…I’m guessing it was a staff day out…”

Then, Stephen tells the panel that there was a T-Rex poo that they found in Saskatchewan
Alan: “How did they know- was there a dead T-Rex next to it that’d pooed itself to death?”
Johnny: “No, it was found reaching for the toilet roll with its tiny claws.”

Johnny, mid-discussion: “If you’re at a party, and…communication breaks down…When you write something on the wall with your own feces…PEOPLE START LISTENING TO YA…”
Dear lord, the digressions this episode has conjured up. Even Stephen starts losing it.
[Only Johnny]
Stephen: “The strange part will be when the police come in and inspect that it was Johnny Vegas’ poo…but it was Lorraine Kelly’s handwriting.”
Johnny: “Yes, but the diction was perfect…and even the sweet corn was used for little commas-”

Ross: “Are you find that, uh, you’re not sellin’ as much tupperware at these parties?”

Stephen sets up a question that obviously has a OWA of ‘Fort Knox’
Ross: “Ohhh…don’t do it, don’t do it…”
Shappi, with trepidation: “…Beckham’s house?”

Alan: “Is this a double-bluff, and it IS gonna be Fort Knox?”
Perfectly timed

Ross: “And where do Spandau Ballet fit into the whole equation?”
Ask Bill Bailey
Stephen misses this reference, and THE ENTIRE PANEL STARTS SINGING ‘GOLD’ BY SPANDAU BALLET. Johnny even attempts to get a sing-along going.

Stephen: “Can you think of a way of promoting railways that is guaranteed to get you into the papers?”
Shappi’s doing great at these initial answers. Which begs the question: did she come on Mock the Week at the right time? Would she have fit better during the Chris Addison era?

On this story about an engineered train collision, Ross mentions “it sounds like a cross between Thomas the Tank Engine and Die Hard”. So, of course, he brings out his Ringo impression and narrates what that might have been.

Alan: “D’you know the Thomas the Tank Engine video game got the 18 certificate?”
Ross: “Grand Theft Thomas! [as Ringo] Thomas went chuggin’ down when he killed a prostitute for extra points…”
Alan: “I very much like this idea. We must write this down…”

Stephen: “There is only one foodstuff eaten in all five of the [Famous Five] books-”
Ross: “Oh, yeah…they eat the dog…”
Stephen: “…No.”
Johnny: “Asbestos! They had LASHINGS OF ASBESTOS.”
Ross: “The dog in Famous Five was Asbestos?”
Johnny: “No, not the dog…”
Alan: “Asbestos is a very good name for a dog…”

Ross: “It’s hard to do a lashing of eggs…except if you’re in an S&M thing with Humpty Dumpty. That’s why they couldn’t put ‘im back together again…”

Ross brings up a point on being on a plane with someone famous, and going “…If this goes down, who’s getting the headline?” It’s a point Noel Fielding made on NMTB once.
Alan: “I was on a plane with Sting once.”
Stephen: “Well, ‘Sting and Alan Davies Go Down’ would be, uh…”
The audience does the rest of the work there.

The Jolly Jape involves using a cardboard box as a vortex cannon, so that all four can create an air vortex to knock over cups stacked feet away. It’s a pretty cool science experiment, and Ross even uses it turned to his own face.

Then, they fill these boxes with smoke machines, and throw smoke around the studio, which is pretty cool. Alan even just hits Ross with a bunch.

It’s a fantastic sequence, and all four are hitting smoke rings all over, to the point when, by the time Stephen has to announce the scores, the studio is still filled with smoke, which is a very funny visual, similar to the NMTB show where a crew member lay dead the whole show, or the Whose Line where the audience kept filtering back in during Let’s Make a Date.

Overall: A ton of fun. The panel was pretty evenly balanced, as well, with all four giving an even amount of input and jokes, though our anchor Ross Noble does end up getting the edge once again. Shappi surprisingly was very funny, though she was quiet in moments where Johnny and Ross went on, as I figured. She wasn’t as bored as she was on MTW, which is nice. And Johnny had a surprisingly subdued-at-points game, even though his usual madness was very present tonight. There were just a number of really funny moments, some great dynamic between Ross, Johnny and Alan, and that fantastic smoke machine sequence. Heavy contender with J-Places for best show of the series so far.

MVP: Ross
Best Guest: Johnny
Show Winner: Ross
Best QI Fact: Cornflakes operation
Best Runner: Model village.

QI Watchdown: J6 (Joints), or My Sphincter Just Tightened

Bit of a mixed bag this show: Jimmy Carr is our proctor, obviously. Cal Wilson, the great Australian import, is back for her second, and sadly last, show. And making his QI debut is comedian, actor, and one of my least favorite Never Mind the Buzzcocks guest hosts, Jack Whitehall. Look, public opinion on Jack is split down the middle- either you love him, and are excited that he’s getting big parts in blockbuster films with the Rock, or you file him with the James Cordens and Michael McIntyres of this world, as he’s way too cheeky. I generally fall into the second category, but I will keep an open mind.

Jimmy, instead of wearing one of his trademark suits, has on a trendy brown jacket, more similar to something Phill might wear.

All three primary buzzers are verses from ‘knee bone’s connected to the’ song.

Stephen: “Now, Alan, we’re gonna make your life a little easier-”
Alan: “I can go home?”

Stephen plays in some sexy music as the lights dim.
Jimmy: “Oh, THIS is unfair. Alan gets a girl! I’ve got JACK!”
Alan: “…Jack’s a girl…”

Stephen, tenderly, asks Alan: “Can you feel…your sphincter relaxing…”
The audience loses it at this.
Stephen: “It’s a perfectly innocent question…”
Alan: “i must say, I thought it was until you asked me…”

Jimmy: “I once had a bladder complaint- this is not an STI-”
Cal: “Why are you looking at ME when you say that???”
Jimmy: “Cause…I thought you would understand!”

Jimmy mentions having a camera the width of a pen shoved into his urethra, and this makes Alan, Jimmy AND Jack start miming what this might be like. Note that Jimmy’s is a larger mime.

Jack questions when would be the right time to watch the video of it they give you: “What, at Christmas?: “Oh, let’s not watch The Great Escape this year…let’s watch your dad’s…stomach.”
Jimmy: “The great escape is presumably when they pull the camera out…”

Alan gets a klaxon by guessing that something is a snake. Man, this series is just pulling punches all over.

Jack mentions his brother got worms from licking the loo seat, which gets a very confused look or two from Jimmy.
Alan: “Oh, LOO SEAT. I thought you said ‘licking the Lucy.”

Jack: “You lick the loo seat, and you get worms of the belly.”
Stephen: “You get more than that, you get contempt…”

Jimmy: “You can get a lot of STIs from loo seats, Stephen…but only if you sit down before the last guy’s got up.”
Oh, may he never change.

Jimmy and Alan joke that STI stands for ‘Sexually Transmitted Information’
Cal: “Sounds like the late night version of QI. With all provocative questions.”
Like last show, a lot of Cal’s stuff isn’t getting the laughs it deserves, which is kind of sad.

As Stephen introduces ‘Stick the Knees on the Elephant’
Jimmy: “I feel like sort of…like, we’ve underperformed, and now we’re in a special class…”

Jimmy: “I think elephants have got a lot of knees. Because otherwise, why could you have given us this many dots?”

There are some intriguing moments with this: Alan doesn’t put the joints on the back knees…which are the only legs it has joints on. Jack adds extra dots for the elephant’s balls. Because of course.

Jack talks about a Planet Earth Live show he watched: “Richard Hammond was in front of all these elephants wearing one of his midlife crisis necklaces…and it definitely had a bit of ivory on it…”

Stephen says the front legs of pigs are called ‘hand of pig’
Cal: “I have experienced hand of pig before.”
Jimmy: “Well, I apologize…”
Cal: “Yeah, that’s why you’re on THAT side…”

Stephen speaks of a theatre director who had Noises Off, and every night would have to clean the wet seats, as people would drink and laugh so hard water would come out their nose.
Jack: “Isn’t that cause elderly people go to the theater?”

Jack: “It’s like when Bono was headlining Glastonbury, and he had to pull out…and I’d been saving MONTHS of piss to throw at him…”
Jimmy: “You poor thing…”
Jack: “I had, like a VAT…”

Jack, still going: “He did his back in, that’s why he couldn’t do it. Which is fair enough, because I imagine my back would be pretty sore if I’d spent the last 20 years with my head up my own ass…”
Stephen even emits a WHOA at this one. I don’t blame him

Jack has definitely warmed up over time this episode, to the point where, we’re about halfway through and he’s taking most of the edit with him. Granted, a lot of his stuff is pretty funny, but not everything is.

On the news that Columbus brought tons of cannabis to the US
Jimmy: “So you’re saying he’s a drug trafficker?”
Jack: “Columbus must have had a very big sphincter…”
That, for the record, is how you do a callback joke.

On the ‘pin the knee on the flamingo’, Jack puts it in an obvious spot: ‘Because the knee is the bendy bit, and…oh, it could just be a camp arm…”

Screen Shot 2018-11-30 at 4.04.35 PM.pngAlan: “Is this an unusual flamingo in that it’s got a duck coming out of its ass?”
And I’m gone.
Stephen: “It;s pretty hard to deny-”
Alan: “But where are the duck’s knees? Ask the flamingo…”

Jimmy asks that if flamingo’s knees are at the top of their legs, then a kick to the balls would really hurt, wouldn’t it?
Stephen: “Yes, they don’t really have testicles though, do they?”
Jimmy’s expression is shock.
Stephen: “I mean, they have little sexual parts…”
Jimmy: “As do I!”

Stephen: “What do Glaswegian women lose on their wedding night?”
Jack: “A fight!”
Jimmy: “A long battle against alcoholism?”

Stephen does say that women removing their teeth would lead to “some pleasurable outcomes”, which cracks up the whole panel.
Jack: “You’d be very good on those sex chatlines…”

Jack does come up with a good idea for a Dragon’s den pitch: “It’s dentures…but they clamp shut whenever they sense racism coming out…”
Stephen: “I’ve got nothing against them personally, but-” [chhhh]
Jimmy: “The word ‘but’ would be the key…would be the trigger word…’I’m not racist, BUT…”
Jack: “CCHT”

Stephen: “Certain types of dead people [gave their teeth]. You’re not allowed to rob a grave-”
Jimmy: “YOU’RE NOT???”
Stephen: “No, you’re-”
Jimmy: “Awww…I’m in a LOT of trouble…”

Stephen says they literally collected teeth on the battlefield from dead soldiers.
Jack: “And the horse teeth, they were sent to…the people from Only Way is Essex?”
[Jimmy Carr, who once obliterated Amy Childs on television, laughs at this]

Stephen brings up a funny point about Australia, saying that he’ll see newscasts saying ‘Victorian police were soon on the scene’- “I picture these truncheons and moustaches going ‘OHHH NOW THEN…'”

Stephen talks of a polish dentist who took out her ex-lover’s teeth, “but it was in the papers and it was actually bollocks-”
Alan: “He took his bollocks out?”
This is a slow-burn reaction, but eventually the audience hears this.

Alan: “What she should have done is taken all his teeth out, cut a little hole in his scrotum, then put them all in there…and sew it back up again.”
Cal, weirded out, starts laughing nervously.
Jimmy: “…YES, THAT IS A MUCH BETTER IDEA…I think we can all agree she missed a great opportunity.”

Stephen hands out a piece of dental equipment, and asks the panel what it is.
Jimmy: “Oh, is it for snipping open the scrotum, and putting the teeth in?”

Alan, playing around with it, mimes snipping DOWNWARDS…and then exclaiming “some of the teeth have fallen out!” Dear god. To quote Colin Mochrie, “THIS is our running gag?”

Stephen, after another winking moment from Jack: “…you’re being very flirty, Jack, I quite like you…”
Jack, post-applause: “…my sphincter just tightened…’

Stephen: “Who’s got noisy-knees and a urine-soaked hairbrush?”
Jack: “My grandmother?”
Stephen: “Your grandmother’s not coming well out of this program, is she?”
Alan: “She’s a racist, peeing grandmother…”

Stephen: “What kind of ungulates do we find in the Savannah?”
Jack: “Richard Hammond?”
Look, say what you will about Jack’s cheekiness, but he is FANTASTIC at running gags. There are so many this show.

After Jack admits that heartburn once stopped him from sex.
Stephen: “I can recommend a diet for you…come and see me…”
Alan: “I knew this would happen…”
Jimmy: “It involves nuts.”
Stephen: “Brings a new meaning to ‘we shall march on Whitehall'”

Stephen: “Who wrote the Cat in the Hat?”
Jack, resident young person: “Dr. Seuss?”

Stephen: “What kind of glass does the Popemobile have in its windows?”
Jimmy: “Oh, is it the slidey kind so he can sell ice cream?”
[good lord…]

Cal has a fantastic answer, ‘stained glass’, which…again, doesn’t get a lot of response from the audience, but is insanely funny.

Stephen says that there are technically 2 Popes per square foot in Vatican city, since Vatican city is only .44 square feet.
Jimmy: “Well, I think we have it, ladies and gentlemen, the most annoying question ever asked?”

Stephen, announcing the scores: “It’s crowded at the bottom…that’s a very unfortunate phrase…”

Alan loses with -51, his most impressive loss in a while.

Overall: A bit lighter than the last few, but still very funny. The four players were definitely playing more solo games, each befitting their style on the show seperately. Cal kinda got swallowed up tonight, but she still had some fun moments. Jack had a fantastic debut, but flew a bit close to the sun, and dominated the second act of the show a bit too much for my liking. Jimmy, though, was responsible for some of the best jokes of the night, and was doing his usual amount of connecting. There were several running gags…and several weak spots in the show. So a mixed bag, but a fun watch.

MVP: Jimmy
Best Guest: Jimmy
Show Winner: Cal
Best QI Fact: removed teeth
Best Runner: scrotum teeth

QI Watchdown: J5 (J-Places), or I Am So Out of My Comfort Zone

A fairly standard lineup for this one- Bill Bailey and Sandi Toksvig are our seasoned regulars, and Susan Calman, who’d eventually become a mainstay as a semi-regular, makes her debut here. I’m not well-acquainted with her material, save for an admittedly disappointing turn on Mock the Week (which is more the show’s fault than hers). Knowing how well she gets on with Sandi, hopefully this will work well for her.

By the way, Bill is wearing a Mastodon t-shirt. Not quite as good as his Dragonball one, but there you go.

The buzzers are all travel-related, with the first three being sounds of jet engines of different sorts, and Alan being a car unable to start. Stephen even has him try it again, to get the full effect of the gag.

On the first question, ‘where does the phrase Chariots of Fire originate’, both Bill and Sandi are trying to hedge what could be a klaxon- Sandi, matter-of-factly goes “it’s a film”, while Bill points to the behind-screen and goes ‘could, uh…have something to do with that…”

After a bit of probing, Alan guesses Shakespeare, which I thought would get him a klaxon, but his guess of Jerusalem does end up being a forfeit.
Stephen: “It’s embarrassing how long it took you to get the wrong answer…”

Stephen: “It comes from a poem by William Blake called…?”
Alan and Bill: “…Chariots of Fire.”
Stephen: “I’m ASHAMED of you…”

Stephen, to Sandi: “You MUST know the first line of this poem…”
Sandi: “I must, yes, but I can’t be asked to tell you…”

Soon, the entire panel just starts singing the Jerusalem song in a very low key. Alan, to the audience, goes ‘COME ON!’, knowing it’s too dreary to sing along to.

On the story of Jesus coming to England:
Alan: “Is there a film about it?”
Stephen: “…not to my knowledge-”
Alan: “Well, then I’m in trouble.”
Such perfect timing on that

Alan even mentions that the phrase people have begun saying, instead of “I don’t know”, is “I’m out of my comfort zone”, which amuses the hell out of Stephen.

Stephen: “And he went with his uncle, what was his uncle’s name?”
Susan, who’d since been quiet: “Bob.”
Alan, chuckling: “Uncle Bob Christ?”

Bill actually answers where Jesus’ Uncle came from, but Susan is still ending her anecdote on it, so Stephen asks Bill to repeat himself for the camera…at which point, Alan upstages him again and presses his buzzer. My god, the dynamic already is hysterical.

And then Alan tries to give the answer, Joseph of Aramathea, but Bill grabs Alan’s buzzer, and, to the camera, yells “NO, I SAID IT! I SAID JOSEPH OF ARAMATHEA!”
Stephen: “I am going to throw cold water at you both in a minute…”

Sandi: “Did Mary come? The mother?”
Stephen: “I don’t think she did.”

Stephen: “And…I’ll be very impressed if you can tell me the greek word for sun-”
Alan: “Yeah, if I knew it, you’d be more than impressed. You’d have a heart attack!”

There’s a runner of Katie Price jokes: first, Alan calls her heliotropic, as in she gets a lot of sun. Then, Stephen asks what a mountain cow is
Alan: “…Katie Price.”
It’s not at Michael Winner levels of repetition yet, but…it’s close.

Stephen asks an amusing enough question [“why…might my pockets smell of fish?”], and then produces this visual:
Screen Shot 2018-11-29 at 11.41.50 AM.png
The whole panel completely loses it here. Susan starts howling.
Screen Shot 2018-11-29 at 11.42.31 AM.png

Stephen: “They’ve done that thing…where they take my body, and they put the head of someone who looks a bit like me…”
Susan: “God, that’s like a dream I had last night…”
Sandi: “It’s not like a dream I’VE ever had…”

Bill: “So people are dangling fish in front of babies…on…what? On a fishing line?”
And he does this little mime of reeling the fish back in. Very Series A/B-esque

Stephen goes on to say that the Japanese had 47 ways to cut carp as a way of signifying parts of everyday life.
Stephen: “For example, there was Departing for Battle Carp, where soldiers would have carp carved in a certain way before they went to battle-”
Alan: “They weren’t told they were going into battle, the carp was a giveaway…”
And he does a little representation of seeing the carp, pointing to it, and turning to the others beside him, pointing to it.

Alan gets a klaxon by saying that sake is rice wine.
Sandi, harkening back to an earlier question: “Is it from Jerusalem?”

Stephen asks what nation taught the Japanese to batter foods, and all four suggest Scotland.
Susan: “Surely there’s a ginger-haired man in some ancient scroll, going-”
Stephen, scottish accent: “You’ll wanna deep fry thaat?”
Susan: “That’d be magic, it really would…”

Then, on the ‘what do people in Java do for a pick me up’, there’s an obvious answer that everyone seems to know, Alan sacrifices himself by buzzing in, and, similar to Journeys, just asks Bill “…what’s it?”
Stephen: “oooh, you are so canny…”

Alan does eventually answer coffee, which sets off his umpteenth klaxon.

On a shot of Javanese people lying on the railway lines, Alan starts cackling, even under Stephen talking about it.

Sandi: “So, the pick-me-up part just depends on how fast the train’s going…”

There’s a runner with Bill, as early on in the show he does a brief miming for ‘washing up’, which Sandi wonders if he’s ever done before, as it’s similar to typing. Then, as Bill does a keyboardist mime for the melodramatic railway gag, Sandi says that it’s just like the washing up.
Bill: “I’m multitasking! I could be washing up-”
Alan: “He’s washing up WHILE tying his wife to the railway…”

Stephen asks Alan to name the infamous Javan volcano, and I half-expect it to be like the ‘naturalist onboard the beagle’ question, but it’s not a question, just an excuse to say that the film title, Krakatoa, East of Java, is geographically incorrect, which is a fun tidbit I knew of beforehand.

Stephen does put on an American producer voice, on changing the title from West to East of Java, and we get a chance to hear Sandi’s natural New York accent, which we rarely hear as much as her adopted proper 1930s British accent (there’s an As Yet Untitled anecdote on how she had to essentially change her accent to fit in, which is a great watch).

Alan, who’s having an incredible show so far, surprise Stephen by guessing the exact year of the Krakatoa volcano explosion, which is 1883. He’s absolutely floored.

Also, Stephen talks of an Indonesian volcanic explosion, and defers to part-time Indonesian resident Bill Bailey, who names the exact mountain.

Stephen: “What was the most hurtful thing Rambo’s boyfriend did to him?”
Susan: “I’ve seen this one, it’s a bootleg I think…”

Stephen, on Rimbaud: “He had a passionate, tumultuous affair with…dot dot dot…”
Alan: “Katie Price.”

Bill guesses another french poet, and Stephen mentions, while he’s not it, he did have a pet lobster. Bill…takes this and runs with it.
Alan, being Alan, just does an impression of an absent-minded lobster. And he and Bill just do this insanely funny bit where the poet fights with the lobster, and the lobster’s just being very doglike. And Bill ends it by harkening back to the Jerusalem artichoke from earlier. It’s all so ridiculous.

Stephen: “Anyway, let’s return to this poet, who was the lover of the young Verlaine- OH, SORRY-”
Bill, immediately buzzing in: “VERLAINE!”
Screen Shot 2018-11-29 at 2.00.38 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-11-29 at 2.01.40 PM.png
Stephen mentions that Verlaine is the one ‘who looks a bit like John Malkovich’, and he forgets the name of the guy on the right.
Alan: “That’s Robert DeNiro…”

Sandi: “It’s like a nineteenth century ad for a hairdresser’s. All the different styles…”

Stephen mentions a poem of international acclaim that Verlaine wrote:
The Entire Panel, bringing it back to the top of the show: “ANNND DID THE FEEETT…”

Stephen re-reads the French line in a more recognizable way, in a more pompous voice
Susan: “…it’s the start of the Eurovision song contest…”

Stephen says that Verlaine ended up shooting Rimbaud in the wrist
Alan: “…whilst he was masturbating…”
Stephen: “…I’m gonna move on-”
Alan: “It’s for the best!”
Sandi: “I am SO out of my comfort zone…”

There’s a great sequence where Stephen keeps making euphemisms, as the french word for chicken is coc, and he keeps using it for coc soup and such, but it turns into a festival of Frankie Howerd impressions, all going “Oh, DON’T…” and such.

Stephen mentions the other name for this is Goat’s Head Soup, which immediately perks MY ears up, but Stephen turns to Bill for its pop culture significance. And Bill…somehow…doesn’t know.
Stephen: “The greatest rock’n’ roll band in the world? They call themselves?”
Susan, being Scottish: “PROCLAIMERS!”
Stephen, for the umpteenth time this show, facepalms.

Stephen talks about the Japanese custom of adopting 25-30 year olds from other households.
Sandi: “Yes, it’s called stealing.”

Susan talks about her personal Smurf village at home, for a question on blue houses: “Thing is, if I’m wrong on this one I’m gonna look like a twat.”
Stephen: “You’re gonna look like a twat even if you’re right.”
Susan, as the audience laughs at this, looks at them, kind of betrayed.
[Thankfully she does get the question very right]

Then, on a twenty point bonus question, Bill buzzes in…only to find that his buzzer has broken. Fantastic.

Knowing the town begins with J, Bill (and suddenly everyone else) starts yelling out all the things he knows begins with J in Spanish. Sandi even adds ‘Jerusalem!”

Stephen says that there’s no direct road to Juneau, Alaska.
Sandi: “Well, Sarah Palin can walk on the water all the way there..”
Stephen: “And do you know the biggest joke to come out of Alaska?”
Sandi: “……Sarah Palin, who can walk on the water…”
I’m honestly surprised there was no klaxon after this. So is Sandi, who raises her arms when she realizes there’s no klaxon.
Stephen: “…there’s no forfeit for that. We were gonna do one, but it was too obvious…”

Susan: “If you do a practical joke, like…er, clingfilm over the toilet or something simple…”
Alan: [immediately writes that down]

Overall: A new standard for this series, even if it wasn’t perfect. Not only were all four panelists very on, but they were very collaborative, and their senses of humor meshed very well. Plus, it was one of those shows where Stephen just kept looking not only astonished at the panel’s ineptitude, but impressed at their knowledge. There really wasn’t a weak link, though Alan was at his best in a while, Bill had a number of nice runners, Sandi had some great lines throughout, and Susan had a wonderful first showing, and a great preview of what’s to come throughout her tenure on the show. Just a really nice one, despite minor lulls late in the show.

MVP: Alan
Best Guest: Sandi
Show Winner: Susan
Best QI Fact: 47 ways of cutting carp
Best Runner: Jerusalem

QI Watchdown: J4 (Jack & Jill) or LOGS WILL FALL!

I’ve been cranking these out of late, so here’s another one, seeming to mirror the theming of Girls & Boys, featuring David Mitchell as our anchor, Sue Perkins, once again, as our comic relief, and newbie and NMTB favorite Katy Brand as our ‘guest star’ of sorts. I’m not sure if she appears again, and if so it’s fleetingly, so this’ll be our taste of her.

From here on out, we do see more of the infamous David Mitchell beard, which has graced our televisions predominantly ever since.

All the buzzers are songs with J-Names: Katy’s is Dolly Parton’s Jolene, Sue’s is Jean Genie by David Bowie, David’s is Jennifer by Donovan (I think?), and Alan’s is…well, the Top Gear theme, which he celebrates with a Clarkson impression, but it’s just a cover of Jessica by the Allman Brothers, which Stephen quizzes the group on. It does help to know a thing or two about music.

Stephen: “Who dies if they don’t have sex for a year?”
Sue, smirking: “…is it Russell Brand?”
Sue reacts with shock, as she didn’t think she’d get one so early on, and jokingly beats herself up on the desk.

Stephen: “Now what’s a male ferret called?”
Alan: “Jeff.”

Already, the panel is just cracking up Stephen with how far off they are on what a female ferret is called, guessing all the wrong J names. Katy even buzzes in, and points to her buzzer, as a guess.

After saying that female ferrets die if they don’t have sex for a year, internally
Stephen: “So what you have to do, one of two things, you could-”
Alan: “Shag it-”
Stephen: “Spay her…”
Stephen, then the audience, goes back and realizes what Alan just said, and breaks a bit.
Katy: “I was gonna say that…”
Sue: “Treat her nicely…”
Stephen: “It will be the ULTIMATE sacrifice.”

Stephen: “No, find a hob [male ferret] for her-”
Katy: “And then cook it…”
Stephen: “Or you can give him injections…”
Sue: “It’s easier to have sex with it, really..”

Stephen: “He also bites the back of the neck of the hooked female-”
Sue: “Sounds like fun…”
Katy: “Sounds like Russell Brand…”

Stephen: “And it comes from the latin Ferito, which means-”
Christ, this episode so far…

Stephen, on Mad Jack: “He also liked to get up in the middle of the night and shoot ducks, while naked.”
Sue: “Was the nudity really necessary?”
David: “Probably thought ‘they’re naked, why shouldn’t I be?”
Katy: “Is it wrong to start slightly falling in love with this man?”

Stephen, on Mad Jack Churchill: “He was the only reported soldier during WWII to go into battle armed with…what?”
Alan: “A teapot!”
Dear lord…
Sue: “A dessert spoon!”
Alan: “Sorry, tea COZY!”
Sue: “Cheese slicer.”
Stephen: “No, a bow and arrow.”
Sue: “….DID HE KNOW WHAT DECADE, or even what CENTURY he was in?”
Stephen: “He was a gallant, chivalrous man…”
Sue, miming a bow and arrow: “MARVELOUS STUFF!”

Stephen mentions he also carried a sword with him, and David, ever the master of logic, dissects the redundancy of carrying a bow and arrow AND a sword, and not being able to use both at once.

Stephen: “He also said that if you SMILE at the enemy, then he’s less likely to shoot you.”
Sue: “I wonder how HE died?”

Stephen: “How did Queen Jenga arrange her harem?”
Everyone in the panel starts cracking up, knowing the obvious joke
Sue: “Three rows that way, then three rows that way…”

Alan points out, in the picture of Queen Jenga, that she’s wielding a bow and arrow AND has a sword holstered, just like Churchill, which is the right kind of coincidental.

Stephen mentions that Jenga had men fight to the death to sleep with her…and be killed after sex.
Sue: “So then, what’s the incentive to enter the competition, then?”
Stephen: “Well, you’re killed either way, so either you’re killed and get a shag, or you’re killed…without a shag.”
Sue: “What kind of shag would you have if you knew you’d be murdered at the end of it. I mean, that must have been some tense coitus…”
Stephen: “Mister Tiggy would probably be very shrivelly, wouldn’t he?”
Sue completely doubles over at that, as would most people. The rest of the panel is just shaking their heads.
Sue: “Ooooh…too much Mister Tiggy information.”

Stephen says the game Jenga’s name is Swahili in origin.
Alan: “Swahili for TIIIIMBEEERRRR…”

Katy talks about leaving her kids to play Giant Jenga, and then coming back after some wine and-
Alan: “Blood everywhere?”
Alan: “One hanging underneath…’where’s Timmy?’ ‘I dunno’ ‘HE’S UNDERNEATH THE JENGA!”
David: “That’s an extremely middle-class form of neglect…”

Stephen says there are different variations on jenga
David: “What about a lego version? Then…”

Stephen: “Well, the only limit…is your imagination…”
David: “SURELY that’s not Jenga’s slogan, is it?”

Stephen: “No, I think their slogan is “THIS SUMMER….LOGS WILL FALL…”

Stephen: “How many pieces are there in Jenga?”
Alan: “90.”
Stephen: “See? Intelligence.”
David: “…well, ninety IS a number divisible by three…”
Alan just glares, kinda betrayed, at Katy for a moment

There’s a fantastic interlude, where Stephen says, truthfully, that any multiple of nine’s digits, added, is nine. And Alan does all the math in his head, up to 180. He does say that at 189, it becomes trickier, but Stephen adds the sum of THAT, 18, and we’re back to nine again. Very fun math moment.

Stephen tells a story of a Chinese pianist who had his arms burnt off, and had to learn to play piano with his toes.
David: “You sure he hasn’t got his head in the wrong place?”
Alan: “He’s got his hands down a pair of trousers. ‘LOOK AT MY TOES! LOOK AT MY TOES!”
David: “He’s SAYING he can play the piano with his feet- he’s a man who has a penis that looks like a face.”

Screen Shot 2018-11-24 at 6.11.49 PM.pngDavid: “I feel sorry for the other finalists to be Queen…”

I’m not even giving context for this one
David: “Quite lucky, I think, that nothing germinates from a discarded kebab. Our city centers would be even worse…”
[This is almost Rich Hall-esque]

Stephen: “How did the first person to notice they were colorblind realize they were colorblind?”
Katy: “Did they say ‘ahhh, the red shoots of spring…”

David slowly increasing his output this show, in a conversation about this man, who bought his mother red stockings, thinking they were blue.

Stephen, now talking about blind snooker players: “It’s to the point where at times they have to ask the referee-”
Katy: “Which is the table and which is the ball?”

Stephen then talks about cops playing ‘car snooker’, by chasing red cars until they do something wrong, then blue cars, and so on.
Alan: “Let’s all get a white car…so they can all just fuck off…”
Oh, I’m so glad Alan’s still on this show.

This is one of those episodes where the panel dynamic is so strong, and all four are just bouncing off of each other, that Stephen has to sort of try not to crack too much before going onto the next prompter read.

Stephen: “So what is it that people can’t become if they’re colorblind?”
David: “Snooker Players! Wait, no!”

Stephen confirms that colorblind pilots are alright, but only if they’re not the ‘worst kind of colorblind’
Katy: “Can’t tell the difference between the blue sky and the green…”
Sue: “And the gray tarmac…”
David: “Yes, the very worst kind of color-blindness, or BLINDNESS.”
All three guests are just teeing off. It’s fantastic!

Stephen: “What begins with J and was used by the first man to row the Atlantic to attempt suicide.”
Alan, not referencing E1: “…jizz.”
Sue, cracking up: “suicide by jizz?”

Stephen: “As a child, he knicked a pistol from his scout leader and fired shots at his fellow scouts, and was expelled from-”
Sue: “And got a badge for it!”
Alan: “Accuracy!”
Only Sue laughs at this one, but it really got me.

The jolly jape is doing paper airplanes, which Alan and David do well at. Katy’s lands behind her, and Sue’s lands in the central QI circle, which cracks her up.

Stephen surprises the group by saying the most effective paper airplane is cylindrical.
David: “What, you just scrunch it up and chuck it?”

Stephen does demonstrate, as it must be done in a spiral, like an american football, and he gets some pretty nice yardage on it.

Three episodes after making fun of Johnson’s tourette’s, Stephen confirms that Samuel Johnson did not, in fact, write the first dictionary. So, so much for that. Imagine if this show went out before Jargon.

One of the early Johnson words was ‘mouth-friend’, which Alan’s confused by.
Stephen: “Don’t we all need a mouth-friend?”

Alan, on another one of these words: “Isn’t shapesmith just a rubbish blacksmith?”

As Stephen is about to announce the scores, he does a contented sigh in that’s so flagrantly over the top that it sounds more like he’s just saying “EEEEEEEE…”. Everyone has to stop and go ‘WHAT?’ Sue and Katy even exclaim “HE’S DIED!!!” It’s sort of like the one time he literally just had a random ‘OHOHOHOHOHO’ laugh, and only Sean Lock called him off on it.

A note that Stephen has, for the most part, given up a longform anecdotal finale, in exchange for an Ellen Degeneres-esque “be kind to each other”, which is just the right amount of wholesome.

Overall: Dare I say it, an improvement on the show I was actually looking forward to, and the best show since E1. The dynamic was out of bounds, with all four giving fantastic material and collaborating. Katy Brand’s debut didn’t feel like one, as she was really excited to be there, and clearly knew Sue from somewhere (as did Liza, although…maybe Sue’s just naturally personable). David and Sue had very funny nights, though Sue may have had more outgoing moments. David took a bit more time to stand out, and was, like Phill last show, kind of to himself for the first half. It also helped that there were several very funny topics for all four to collaborate on, to the point where Stephen had to attempt herding them away, which was amusing in itself.

MVP: Sue
Best Guest: David
Show Winner: David
Best QI Fact: female ferrets dying without sex
Best Runner: Russell Brand jokes.