The first of a new experimental series in which Stephen Fry will be played by Hugh Laurie and Hugh Laurie will be played by Stephen Fry. The part of 'A Bit' will be played by And, and the part of 'Of...
A comedy panel game in which being Quite Interesting is more important than being right. Sandi Toksvig is joined each week by four comedians to share anecdotes and trivia, and maybe answer some questions as well.
The Right Honorable James Hacker has landed the plum job of Cabinet Minister to the Department of Administration. At last he is in a position of power and can carry out some long-needed reforms - or so he thinks.
As the title suggests, "A Bit of Fry and Laurie" is less of a specific format than a 'coat-hanger' for short sketches, starring the comical duo in various, recurring or unique roles: Stephen Fry, the sophisticated giant who usually plays the smug one, and comparatively small Hugh Laurie, usually playing the patsy. Written by
Set the standard for other such comedy series to follow
STAR RATING: ***** Saturday Night **** Friday Night *** Friday Morning ** Sunday Night * Monday Morning
There's a snobby element of British society that can't do without their humour being 'refined' and 'sophisticated.' Cambridge graduates Fry and Laurie would, by their appearance and eleqution, fit this bill perfectly, and certainly a lot of the humour on offer in this series does test your sense of subtlety to the limit. But these two pithy academics also seem to have an interest in lampooning the lower classes they seem to have less in common with, so the humour covers a wider section of society than those this might be slightly more aimed at.
It was up to these guys to set the standard for fellow Cambridge 'footlighters' Mitchell and Webb and Armstrong and Miller, and their style does seem to have rubbed off, though arguably to less well effect. ABOFAL plays out like a wacky mish mash of ideas in the shape of sketches, where nothing is spared. Unlike more recent 'sketch shows' like Little Britain or That Mitchell and Webb Look, there are no real consistent characters here, just different set ups and scenarios for each new episode, with exceptions such as the people who seem to be stopped in the street and asked for their opinions in each episode. Many have commented on how 'british' the humour is, and this certainly rings true, but there also seems to be a deep affinity with America in a few of the sketches, such as 'Kickin' Ass' and the air force commanders, that doesn't let any of it get bogged down too much in Anglo culture. Indeed, Laurie would go on to achieve international fame as Dr. House in the hit series (as well as having a CD release in the pipeline, displaying his talent for country 'n western warbling that we see a bit of here), and we'd go on to learn that Fry was in fact almost born in the States and later wowed us with his Stephen Fry Does America programme, touring the country, so the early signs of this love and appreciation were already there.
The more modern Mitchell and Webb are eerily similar to this pair, with Fry and Laurie in the respective roles as the portlier, more hesitant one and the leaner, more dynamic sounding one. And while M&W are very good, it was doubtless up to this pair to really show them how it was done. ****
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