“Good evening, good evening, good evening, good evening, good evening.” That’s me, doing my impression of Stephen Fry when he hosts the gut-bustingly funny British quiz show, QI.
The multiple award-winning QI, short for Quite Interesting, is one of the funniest shows ever. That it is in the panel, or quiz, format makes it a bit like a laughs-filled trivia night down at the local pub, except it’s on telly.
Hosted by the inimitable actor, comedian and writer, Stephen Fry, who won the prestigious Rose D’Or award in 2006 for Best Game Show Host, QI is different from other shows of this ilk for several reasons.
One: The correct answers aren’t what most people think they are. For example, the answer to “How many moons does the Earth have?” is not the most obvious one.
Two: Points are awarded for correct answers and for ones considered quite interesting, even if they are wrong. However, points are deducted for answers that are neither interesting nor correct. If you were a panelist and had said “one” in response to the question about the number of the Earth’s moons, it would have been met with the blare of what many refer to as the klaxon (but which actually isn’t), which sounds whenever a wrong and uninteresting answer is given.
Three: No one on the show, not even Stephen Fry, knows how the final scores are calculated. (The QI elves do, but they’re not saying.)
Four: The focus of each series is a letter of the alphabet, with most episodes’ themes being words that begins with that letter. To date, the show has covered letters A through K.
Five: Many episodes feature a show-and-tell type of segment, in which Stephen Fry demonstrates something noteworthy that is related to the episode’s theme.
Six: There are regular and “XL” episodes, the latter of which are the uncut versions (available in the US only on YouTube).
Each episode features four panelists, mostly British comedians (that US viewers may or may not be familiar with), including Alan Davies, the program’s permanent panelist who has appeared in all episodes save one.
Banter between host and panelists can tend toward the bawdy and include language that some might consider obscene, so the show isn’t for everyone, especially younger children.
For everybody else, though, QI is a hoot to watch and educational to boot, and the first two series are coming to Acorn TV beginning the 3rd of March. Two of the recent series — for letters I and J — are already available in the US on Hulu.