As we all go through life we generally collect more than we let go, relationships, assets, debts, regrets, memories, kids and also lots and lots of sometimes useful, sometimes useless facts as well as things we think are facts but actually aren’t.
The last two things we collect for almost no reason other than we can’t stop collecting them, we find interesting, and maybe even that we live in hope that we might just one day we could catch an edition of the QI and smugly say to friends or family as Stephen Fry reels out some incredibly obscure snippet of information “yes, I knew that, you guys might be surprised but I knew that all along that there are 15 Marsupials for every Australian alive.”
If you are a fan of the all things factual you would no doubt know that BBC2′s QI (Quite Interesting) is back for its eleventh series, the K Series.
I find the show, for want of a better descriptive phrase, quite interesting but only when the panel is a good mix of comedic talent and purveyors of esoteric nuggets of information. Masters of this fine balance are folks like David Mitchell, Sandi Toksvig and Bill Bailey
Sometimes like this episode there is too much “comedic” talent at the expense of amusing but informative anecdotes or contributions from the panel. The “over-comedic” panel was the Australian comic Colin Lane, Ross Noble and Noel Fielding, alongside Stephen Fry and his regular sidekick Alan Davies.
One interesting nugget at the beginning of the show was the connection between Colin Lane, Alan Davies, Stephen Fry and Noel Fielding. Colin Lane was the winner of the prestigious Perrier Comedy award at the Edinburgh festival in 1994, and who was the runner up? None other than Alan Davies. Alan Davies recounted how on a trip to Australia he stayed at Colin’s house in Melbourne and woke up one morning to find the Perrier award on his beside, a bit of one-upmanship from Colin.
To add to the panel’s award related navel grazing Stephen reminded how he had won the inaugural Perrier award, and that Noel Fielding had won the best newcomer in 1998. With the panel’s ego suitable massaged the programme proper began.
The edition was amusing in parts, but was largely dominated by Ross Noble’s scatter gun comedy, you could sense almost at times some exasperation on Stephen Fry’s part as he wanted to push on with the programme but had to wait as Ross unleashed another bout of Zany-ness. Noel Fielding was also a culprit in the zany-ness, the difference was Ross was occasionally funny, Noel just wasn’t.
Alan was Alan, happy and comfortable in his role being a counterfoil to Stephen. Colin was quite quiet and probably just overwhelmed by all the Zany-ness flying about. He did tell a good joke on how you would know you are being followed by a Gay Shark.
Some of the facts we learnt.
- Cat litter (or kitty litter to fit in with the “K” theme) was used by American tobacco manufacturers to bulk up to cigars as it was cheap, odourless, burnt and was tax free.
- Churchill put a needle in his cigars so the ash never fell away and created increasingly long finger of ash at the end of the cigar often mesmerising his audience.
- Mint cake was not, as many people would assume, the thing that made Kendal famous, rather it has had the longest running snuff manufacturing in the world starting back in in 1750
- The 18th century courtesan Kitty Fisher was reputed to be the first celebrity in modern British history on account of her having gone “commando” in St James Park, London.
- The follies of the British K Class submarine were discussed. A submarine which relied on a steam engine submarine and thus needed funnels, a clear disadvantage in a submarine’s design especially when diving.
- Flat-pack furniture was invented in 1956. One of the first Ikea employees, Gillis Lundgren, came up with the idea of flat-pack furniture when he took the legs off a table to transport it in a car.
- Although the word salary is derived from salt, Roman soldiers were never paid in salt.