Test Your Wits With Stephen Fry
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because this is a trivia nerd for everyone!
By Tracy Moran
You wouldn’t think it would take so long to get through the alphabet, and while British comedian and polymath Stephen Fry surely knows his ABCs, he’s slowly been getting the rest of the world up to speed. Each season, his BBC news quiz show QI — “Quite Interesting,” not the Chinese concept — explores a single letter, and this year he’s only as far as M-related matters like marriage, mating, math and military.
Throughout each year’s 18 episodes, Fry quizzes his panelists on trivia-like details related to the day’s theme, with contestants hitting their obnoxious-sounding buzzers to share their answers. If you don’t know where Meedhupparu Raa is (in the Maldives) or what was wrong with the Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Lab (the 1950s-era toy contained real uranium), don’t hold your breath on getting everything right. Fry’s questions are purposely obscure, often misleading and largely impossible to answer. So rather than gaining points for correct responses, four contestants duke it out by trying to be the most entertaining with their responses, not necessarily the most clever.
The bumbling responses draw the laughs.
Smarts help, of course, and the wittiest tend to win. Give an obviously false answer — as most of the guests do — and a siren blares, accompanied by flashing lights on the big screen behind the set while costing players points. Three of the guest contestants — comedians or TV personalities like Jo Brand, Bill Bailey and Sandi Toksvig — swap out each week, apart from permanent panelist Alan Davies, who’s there for the duration. Fry’s so-called patsy, the wild-haired Davies is forever chided and mocked by the host, usually finishing well in the red while consistently delighting the audience.
The bumbling responses draw the laughs while Fry’s explanations of little-known facts, covering topics as varied as cuisine and outer space, help boost viewers’ IQs. Fans looking to have their wits tested by Hugh Laurie’s best friend should be sure to catch one of this year’s remaining episodes. At the helm for 13 years, the London-born genius recently announced that he’ll be stepping down as host at the end of the current season. He’ll be handing the reins, and presumably the letter N, to British-Danish writer and comedian Toksvig.