A Bit Of Fry And Laurie

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To love one child and to love all children, whether living or dead—somewhere these two loves come together. To love a no-good but humble punk and to love an honest man who believes himself to be an honest man—somewhere these, too, come together.
Marguerite Duras
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A Bit Of Fry And Laurie was a sketch comedy starring Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie, broadcast on BBC2 between January 13, 1989 and April 2, 1995.

Series 1

Episode 1

[Spoonbending with Mr. Nude]
Stephen Fry: Well next week I shall be examining the claims of a man who says that in a previous existence he was Education Secretary Kenneth Baker and I shall be talking to a woman who claims she can make flowers grow just by planting seeds in soil and watering them. Until then, wait very quietly in your seats please. Goodnight.

Episode 2

[Language Conversation]

Hugh Laurie: : So lets talk instead about flexibility of language - erm, linguistic elasticity, if you'd like.
Stephen Fry:: Yes, i think that I've said earlier that our language, English -

L: As spoken by us.

F: As we speak it, yes, certainly-, defines us. We are defined by our language, if you will.

L (to screen): Hello. We're talking about language.

F: Perhaps I can illustrate my point. Let me at least try. Here is a question: (hun...)

L: What is it?

F: Oh! Hun...my question is this: is our language - English - capable... is English capable of sustaining demagoguery?

L: Demagoguery?

F: Demagoguery.

L: And by "demagoguery" you mean...

F: By "demagoguery" I mean demagoguery...

L: I thought so.

F: I mean highly charged oratory persuasive whipping-up rhetoric. Listen to me Tiger, listen to me. If Hitler had been British, would we, under similar circumstances, have been moved, charged up, fired up by his inflammatory speeches or would we simply have laughed? Is English too ironic to sustain Hitlerian styles? Would his language simply have rung false in our ears?

L: We are talking about things ringing false in our ears.

F: May I compartmentalize - I hate to, but may I, may I: is our language a function of our British cynicism, tolerance, resistance to false emotion, humour and so on, or do those qualities come extrinsically - extrinsically] - from the language itself? It's a chicken and egg problem.

L (to screen): We're talking about chickens, we're talking about eggs.

F: Hun...let me start a leveret here: There's language and there's speech. Now, there's chess and there's a game of chess. Mark the difference for me. Mark it please.

L (to screen): We've moved on to chess.

F: Imagine a piano keyboard, eh, 88 keys, only 88 and yet, and yet, hundreds of new melodies, new tunes, new harmonies are being composed by hundreds of different keyboards every day in Dorset alone. Our language, tiger, our language: hundreds of thousands of available words, trillions of legitimate new ideas, so that I can say the following sentence and be utterly sure that nobody has ever said it before in the history of human communication: "Hold the newsreader's nose squarely, waiter, or friendly milk will countermand my trousers." Perfectly ordinary words, but never before put in that precise order. A unique child delivered of a unique mother.

L (to screen): ...

F: And yet, oh, and yet, we, all of us, spend all our days saying to each other the same things time after weary time: "I love you", "Don't go in there", "Get out", "You have no right to say that", "Stop it, "Why should I", "That hurt", "Help", "Marjorie is dead". Hmn?. Surely, it's a thought to take out for cream tea on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

L: So, to you, language is more than just a means of communication?

F: Oh, of course it is, of course it is, of course it is, of course it is. Language is my mother, my father, my husband, my brother, my sister, my whore, my mistress, my check-out girl... language is a complimentary moist lemon-scented cleansing square or handy freshen-up wipette. Language is the breath of God. Language is the dew on a fresh apple, it's the soft rain of dust that falls into a shaft of morning light as you pluck from a old bookshelf a half-forgotten book of erotic memoirs. Language is the creak on a stair, it's a spluttering match held to a frosted pane, it's a half-remembered childhood birthday party, it's the warm, wet, trusting touch of a leaking nappy, the hulk of a charred Panzer, the underside of a granite boulder, the first downy growth on the upper lip of a Mediterranean girl. It's cobwebs long since overrun by an old Wellington boot.

L (to screen): Night-night.

Episode 3

[Gordon & Stuart]
Hugh Laurie: Exactly. Waiter, this wine has resinated in the bottle.

[Costume Design]
Hugh Laurie: Can I just interrupt you here ?
Stephen Fry: Certainly, Peter.
Hugh Laurie: Thanks.
Stephen Fry: Pleasure.

Episode 4

[Prize Poem]
Stephen Fry: I can't pretend to be much of a judge of poetry, I'm an English teacher, not a homosexual.

Episode 5

[Estate Agents]
Stephen Fry: If you try and kill them, you're put in prison: if you try and talk to them, you vomit. There's only one thing worse than an estate agent but at least that can be safely lanced, drained and surgically dressed. Estate agents. Love them or loathe them, you'd be mad not to loathe them.

Episode 6

Stephen Fry: [voiceover] Good old Berent's cocoa. Always there. Original or New Berent's, specially prepared for the mature citizens in your life, with nature's added store of powerful barbiturates and heroin.

Series 2

Episode 1

Hugh Laurie: A good wife, or a good business partner?
Stephen Fry: Is there a difference, Peter?
Hugh Laurie: I hope so, John.

Episode 2

[Vox Pop]
Hugh Laurie: [with an electronic organiser] Ask me anything, a telephone number, what time it is in Adelaide. Tell you what, I can tell you exactly what I'll be doing on the third of August 1997, say. Hang on... [presses a few buttons]. Nothing. See, it says. Nothing.

Episode 3

[Over To You]
Presenter: Did your children see the ... ?
Hugh Laurie: No they didn't. They didn't see it. But only thanks to the purest good fortune that they don't happen to have been born yet, otherwise I dread to think what damage may have been caused. It was simply disgusting.

Episode 4

[Dinner With Digby]
Hugh Laurie: Our Venice is being taken away from us. It's crawling with Germans.
Leslie: And Italians.

Episode 5

[Amputated Genitals]
Stephen Fry: I appreciate that you're trying to help here, but I also happen to use my genitals for, you know, getting rid of my urine.
Hugh Laurie: Oh don't worry, that's the beauty of the system. When people see you wearing a combat jacket and driving round in a white van with Killer, the piss will be taken out of you constantly.

Episode 6

[Vox Pop]
Stephen Fry: Well, I was born Mary Patterson, but then I married and naturally took my husband's name, so now I'm Neil Patterson.

Series 3

Episode 3

Stephen Fry: Ah. I fancy I detect a wrinkle of concern on your otherwise smooth and toboggonable brow. Business is not what it was, nor even what it is. It may not even be what it will be. We shall see. If it is. If it isn't, I may have to consider an early retirement. Mr Dalliard, I'm drivelling!

Vox Pops

Stephen Fry: What do I think of John Major's leadership? I'd welcome it! [Laughs hysterically].
Stephen Fry: Well I just told him to stuff it. But he said that it'd been dead too long.
Stephen Fry: 20 pounds. So I said I'll toss you for it. So he said what will you do for 50?
Hugh Laurie: [Walking away] No I can't stop, I'm afraid. My wife is being towed away.
Stephen Fry: I think animal testing is a terrible idea. They get all nervous and give silly answers.
Hugh Laurie: Yes, I drive a Vauxhall Nova Splash. Uh, it's a limited edition. I think they only made one and a half million of them.
Hugh Laurie: Well. "Bring back hanging!", I say. These tumble dryers are useless.
Hugh Laurie: Testicles?! Bollocks, more like!
Stephen Fry: I was very shocked when my son told me his boyfriend was a homosexual.
Hugh Laurie: Do you know what makes me really mad? It's this belief that I'm John the Baptist.
Hugh Laurie: I've always been a Daily Mail reader. I prefer it to a newspaper
Hugh Laurie: [Examining a plate] See this? You could eat your dinner off this.
Hugh Laurie: You know what makes me REALLY mad? It's this new drug, ecstasy. Makes me MAD!
Hugh Laurie: [As policeman] Ask me what my favourite food is. "Lancashire hotpot." Do you want to know why? "Lancashire hotpot" you in the name of the law! ...[aside] Oh, "Irish Stew"!
Stephen Fry: I wouldn't suck it!

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