Soupy twist!
December 24, 2008 8:03 PM   Subscribe

Before moving on to House (Laurie) and being bloody awesome (Fry), even before Jeeves and Wooster, but after Blackadder I think, Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry appeared in an amazing sketch show called A Bit of Fry and Laurie. Fry, in particular, has a way of taking any bit of linguistic madness at all and turning it into something that sounds almost respectable.
To start off, these are calculated to make your brain explode: Tricky Linguistics and Part 2, Buying an Engagement Ring, and The Haircut posted by JHarris (46 comments total) 123 users marked this as a favorite
Also, Stephen Fry has quite a knowledgable tech blog, including a "podgram," and a Twitter account, too. Wow. Famous people aren't supposed to know about the internet, dammit!
posted by JHarris at 8:10 PM on December 24, 2008

Aha. That first video will be the one what Mr Fry was referring to in his recent podgram. Thanks!
posted by nowonmai at 8:19 PM on December 24, 2008

Sex talk in class is one of my favorites.
posted by Roman Graves at 8:40 PM on December 24, 2008 [7 favorites]

Nice! I always loved of A bit of Fry and Laurie.
posted by ob at 8:59 PM on December 24, 2008

In that linguistics video, I wasn't really even chuckling until 2:39, at which point I lost it. And everything after that point was great.

Thanks for this!
posted by Xezlec at 9:42 PM on December 24, 2008

I demand an explanation. At our house we have been watching over the last two weeks the first two seasons of Blackadder, and as of last night started in on the third season of Jeeves and Wooster. The DVD player hasn't finished spinning down on the second episode and this is the post I find at the top of MF. This old world is a bit spooky sometimes.

Nice post. Hadn't seen the Bit of Fry and Laurie before now; thanks.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 10:06 PM on December 24, 2008

I have some how missed these until now. Thanks!
posted by arse_hat at 10:34 PM on December 24, 2008

I'm amazed they hadn't been featured as an FPP!

... I'm jealous that you featured them in an FPP.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 10:47 PM on December 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

Mei's lost sandal: I discovered A Bit of Fry and Laurie on the last night of DragonCon this very year, they showed the first episode on the last night of the British Television track. More than one of the above clips comes from that show. I couldn't have made this post if I hadn't found out about it there, so it could be said that it's something in the air right now.
posted by JHarris at 10:54 PM on December 24, 2008

Hugh Laurie is a genius with excellent timing.

Stephen Fry is a true Renaissance Man, also a genius, also with excellent timing.

The two of them together is sheer anglophile smart comedy heaven.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:30 PM on December 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

For the longest time whenever I saw Fry or Laurie in anything, the episode of The Young Ones where they go on University Challenge ran through my mind. When my grandma died, I ended up with some VHS tapes, mostly Ms. Marple and Two Fat Ladies, but there were a couple Jeeves and Wooster episodes in the mix. I watched them, loved them, and acquired the entire series and just about everything else they made, together or apart.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 11:33 PM on December 24, 2008 [3 favorites]

Supplemental: I'm still finding great clips off YouTube from this show.

The end of each episode of the last two seasons ended with Stephen Fry making a cocktail (with hilarious name and ingredients) and shaking it while Hugh Laurie plays the closing theme, with mouth-provided faux-trumpet accompaniment. It ended with the words "Soupy twist!"

Here's all thirteen of them: Season 3, Season 4 eps 1-3, 4-5, 6-7

For more, I think you can do your own searches. Try "Fry and Laurie" or "ABOFAL" for terms.
posted by JHarris at 11:43 PM on December 24, 2008

I'm upset that I'd never seen this before and happy that someone showed it to me.
posted by tiamat at 11:45 PM on December 24, 2008

What weird synchronicity -- I just last night finished watching the whole run of Fry & Laurie. Great stuff.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:49 PM on December 24, 2008

OKAY. Okay. You talked me into it. Two more, but only because it's Ex-mhaz:
Young Tory of the Year and Kicking Ass

After the November elections, they should be particularly satisfying to us Americans.
posted by JHarris at 12:02 AM on December 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

I think it's obvious by now that I can't help myself: Hey, Jude. Be sure to keep watching until Fry joins in.
posted by JHarris at 12:16 AM on December 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

One of my favorites from the first series: Some Information Please.
posted by tomcooke at 12:28 AM on December 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

I swear the benefit of watching those two is akin to yoga or pet ownership; it stimulates the deep relaxation/pleasure parts of the brain. Don't forget The Word Gay. You can see the chemistry arcing between them, that finish-your-sentence kind -- and sir will surely agree that they are flawlessly polished sentences from a lost golden age. Merry Christmas, JHarris, and thanks.
posted by melissa may at 2:03 AM on December 25, 2008 [2 favorites]

I used to think Stephen Fry was awesome. Then I watched the Guilty Pleasures thing on the Beeb where he completely phoned it in. Now I just think he is sometimes good.
posted by srboisvert at 2:04 AM on December 25, 2008

The Dangerous Brothers (Rik Mayall and Ade Edmondson) meet Fry and Laurie in... Dangervision (if I remember correctly .. I DO think that's the right video .. ignore me if it's not!)
posted by Mael Oui at 3:29 AM on December 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Fry is genius, genius.........
posted by Leo Golan at 4:19 AM on December 25, 2008

Fry and Laurie will always remind me of my own great good fortune growing up with Jim Ratz; as children we shared a love of all things British, and we created characters for ourselves (Freeley and Poole) and performed sketches which we recorded on tiny portable reel-to-reel tape machines. None of these recordings, to my knowledge, have survived, but Jim's mother will tell you, if given the opportunity, there were times while riding in the car she had to stop the car because she was laughing so hard at the two boys in the back seat that she couldn't drive. She's being generous, as mothers often are--we probably weren't all that funny. But Jim's children will tell you he would affect a British accent--I should say, someone who grew up in the American Midwest's version of a "British" accent--even as an adult.

Further, I always thought Jim bore a rather striking physical resemblance to Hugh Laurie. You have given me a great gift this Christmas Day, JHarris, and I thank you.
posted by Restless Day at 4:31 AM on December 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Fry and Laurie arrived at just the right moment in my childhood and they are the reason that twenty years later I love language as I do.

My favourite sketch: Flushed Grollings

"Four felching pens and a bevelled spill-trunion..."
posted by Acarpous at 4:40 AM on December 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

By the way, Hugh Laurie is also a brilliant novelist. His book

The Gun Seller

(whose paperback edition quotes my review on the cover) is tense, fast-moving, well-constructed and absolutely hilarious. I recommend it highly. Stephen Fry is a prolific novelist himself, but his books are a mixed bag. The language is mind-bogglingly mellifluous, as you would expect, but the narratives are less than taut, the points are wobbly, and sometimes (as a commenter above said of one of his performances) he "phones it in." Unlike his novels, however, Fry's autobiography is nearly perfect. It's called

Moab is my Washpot

and I reckon it will be recognized as a classic some day. (And you know, just because you're a brilliant British comic actor, it doesn't mean you're a good novelist. Ex-Pythons Eric Idle and Michael Palin have tried their hands at novel writing and the results -- one of which also bears my blurb, alas -- have been less than impressive)
posted by Faze at 5:01 AM on December 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

I bought the entire series about 3 months ago and watch it about every two weeks. It is absolutely brilliant though. I think seasons 1 and 2 are the best IMHO.

Fry's prying apart of language is the highlight of the discs to me. The fact that he does it AND makes fun of pretentious types perfectly makes it that much more enjoyable.
posted by Chocomog at 6:03 AM on December 25, 2008

When will Fry appear on House?
posted by tommasz at 6:45 AM on December 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

An example of Hugh Laurie's writing: Wodehouse Saved my Life
posted by 445supermag at 7:35 AM on December 25, 2008 [2 favorites]

The Young Ones, Season 2 Episode 1 "Bambi". Laurie was "Lord Snot". Hilarious.
posted by buzzman at 9:52 AM on December 25, 2008

I was just reading about the teenaged Fry's time as the crossword editor for The Failiure Press, a "self-consciously intellectual" Baron Corvo fanzine.
posted by Iridic at 10:50 AM on December 25, 2008

oh lawd ... this is so going to feed into my nerdy englishmen fetish.
posted by liza at 11:22 AM on December 25, 2008

tommasz, I seem to remember an interview with Laurie in which he quoted Fry's interest in making an appearence on House as: I'd love to do it. But only if my character needs to use two canes.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 11:24 AM on December 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

{In what is now a footnote to Buzzman's post, thanks to a tied-up 'net connection}

And before "A Bit of Fry and Laurie", in the television equivalent of juvenilia, they appeared with Emma Thompson and Ben Elton on "The Young Ones" as excruciating upper class twits representing Footlights College in a travesty of "University Challenge" (in case there are those out there who believe British humour is all witty persiflage and erudite banter).
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:51 AM on December 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

I am astounded that this has not had a FPP before. A great wee post to dip in and out of when escaping from the relatives for five minutes!

posted by ClanvidHorse at 11:54 AM on December 25, 2008

After the November elections, they should be particularly satisfying to us Americans.

I always loved this. Just the right length, respectful of the audience's intellectual ability, absolutely hilarious.

Laurie isn't it, but Fry is not surprisingly perfect in Absolute Power.
posted by juiceCake at 12:22 PM on December 25, 2008

When will Fry appear on House?

Fry said it was supposed to happen in season three, but they extended the David Morse arc and never got around to it. He made it sound like they just haven't worked out the scheduling since then.
posted by Roman Graves at 12:29 PM on December 25, 2008

Fry's first novel, The Liar, is also partly autobiographical (you can tell which bits when you read it) and sheds some light on the Fry/Laurie relationship. It's a bouncy, irreverent book. His other books are indeed uneven, but all worth reading for amusement.

Fry also had a cameo in the marvelous made-for-tv version of Cold Comfort Farm in 1995.
posted by winna at 4:37 PM on December 25, 2008

The most consistently funny ones seem to be the ones where Hugh Laurie plays straight man to Stephen Fry playing some kind of store proprietor. (And yes, Fry must be incredibly silly person indeed when Laurie can play straight man to him.)
Shoe Shop - Models

This one is incredible: Mr. Burmie

Here's Fry dancersizing.

There are plenty of other sketches floating around the 'Tube as well.
posted by JHarris at 6:56 PM on December 25, 2008

The Polite Rap: Cause I'm a good-ass mother-liker
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 8:26 PM on December 25, 2008

Mr. Burmie seems to be missing a character of its URL. Try this one.
posted by JHarris at 8:57 PM on December 25, 2008

Hugh Laurie was in an Eurythmics film clip with John Malkovich. Or, upon Googling, an Annie Lennox film clip.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 10:36 PM on December 25, 2008

Had to have a laff up my sleeve when I read Stephen Fry being described as a chat show guest attention whore. It was one of those it's funny coz it's true moments.

/we get a lot of British chat shows on Australian TV.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 10:46 PM on December 25, 2008

I saw this show on BBC America years ago and just absolutely fell in love with it. Fantastic that bits are available online now.
posted by dejah420 at 12:27 PM on December 26, 2008

My favorite is Hugh Laurie uncannily channeling Wayne Newton and managing to rhyme something with "estuary" in Mystery.
posted by onlyconnect at 7:02 AM on December 27, 2008

Not AboFaL, but very much FaL, here is the Hedge Sketch.
posted by matthewr at 9:51 PM on December 27, 2008 [3 favorites]

Good god, matthewr - it's not often that I come across something so comedically new to me, much less executed in such pitch perfect fashion. Frankly, that was probably one of the most fantastic pieces of sketch comedy that I've ever seen. I loved Fry and Laurie before, but this was absolute comedy genius.
posted by ooga_booga at 3:14 PM on January 3, 2009

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