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Episode Discussion: S09E10 "Inland Revenue" 
13th-Nov-2011 01:41 pm
Welcome, all my dragons, to this week's Episode Discussion Thread!

It's not required we get 12,407 comments this week, but wouldn't it be interesting?

My random thoughts:

- Now this feels like a QI episode. The balance of the universe has been restored, and we have four intelligent comedians and our beloved schoolmaster Fry again, bantering smoothly and hilariously away. Now, I have nothing against the expert panelists and greatly enjoyed their presence in many respects, but it just seemed to slow down the pace and didn't feel like the show I'd come to love over the years.

- Al Murray is a welcome new panelist, funny, engaging and enjoyable, and I hope he comes back again. The whole panel was just top-notch, especially since Sandi and the marvelous Dara play off each other so well.

- Repeats: Alan's buzzer, and notably the connection between Ben-Hur and Billy the Kid. I doubt this was included as a question, it just seems like something Stephen decided to bring up. Remarkable that Alan didn't remember but "seemed to think he should", especially since way back in Series B when it was featured on the show, Alan found it amusing that a 19th-century US governor would up and decide to write a book about Ancient Rome, leading to one of Stephen's notable angry rants: "What should he have written!? 'You're writing about something not particularly close to you! You wanker!'", withering poor Alan to some extent. Interestingly, I've realized Alan doesn't prod Stephen and act up nearly as much as he used to, and Stephen almost never goes off on a panelist these days. Is everyone mellowing in their old age?

- "That's fabulous trivia, well done you, you should get an extra point for that!" Hilarious comment...and now leads me to think should Stephen ever be prevented from discharging his duties as QImaster...Sandi might be an excellent substitute.

- Dara seems to be the Corrections column of this show, as now he gets points added back for his correct assertion last series that fish do not have tongues. Interestingly, he clearly remembers his points being docked for his (outdated) grasp on the triple point of water, and the whole sequence where he warns Sandi of future point adjustments is wonderful.

- And remember, in case of nuclear war, don't forget to reverse the charges!
13th-Nov-2011 10:04 pm (UTC)
I found the entire section on the transgender Tax Inspectors really offensive. They were very mocking and demeaning and not in a way that could be written off as 'just comedy'. That sort of prejudice is already bad enough without it being encouraged on a show that is normally a little more open-minded.

And I'm afraid that is all I really took away from the episode because I kind of stopped paying attention after that and started reading with the episode on in the background.

I did tune back in for Dara's bit on points being added and taken from previous series, though. I find it amusing that the guests seem to always remember so much from their previous appearances.
14th-Nov-2011 12:21 am (UTC)
i agree very much that they did not handle the tg stuff sensitively. it was disconcerting. i also felt like this episode wasn't up to snuff, though i liked some of the callbacks with dara and a few other bits. al murray wasn't great, but he did have one interesting bit about the submarines.
14th-Nov-2011 03:39 am (UTC)
It's not the first time there's been transphobic comedy on QI, either. :( I've given up on it since the gender episode where Stephen essentially said that men are funnier and that's why there are more of them in comedy.

For an intellect as supposedly large as his, he sure has some way to go in his attitude towards gender and sex. :/
14th-Nov-2011 03:45 am (UTC)
I don't want to blow this into a big discussion, but Stephen didn't say that at all. Sandi perhaps joked that it was true but it wasn't Stephen's explanation. I excerpt the episode's transcript here:

Anyway, sex selection is a tricky business. French folklore suggests wearing your boots in bed but modern research suggests it's much more to do with diet.

Now why don't we have more women as guests on QI? You may well ask.


Er, is it because women are just not funny?

[gasps] Ah!


Oh! I say. But recent studies appear to have shown an interesting thing, which is that women laugh more but they laugh less at women. Women laugh more at men. Audiences, generally, laugh more at men, but women themselves do more laughing.

I… I don't know. I suppose men are more willing to make pratts of themselves.

Yes, there is an element of that, I mean, the really, truly great female comedians do make pratts of themselves. Lucille Ball, people like that.

And there's a strange division that girls have either got to be, sort of, fay or look slightly stupid or they can be, like myself, not terribly attractive, wear a pink jacket and go…

You… now, stop it…

But I mean, there's an interesting… if you think about the… Goldie Hawn, for example. Very… played ditsy, and is one of the most successful Hollywood producers of all time.

Yes, very smart. But played stupid.

But, just as Sandi says, as a woman, they want to, sort of, categorise you more…


The men and the women, what is she doing here, is she doing the "fat man hater" thing, is she doing the fay… what is she…?

Certainly in the early days, the modern standup, when it started in the eighties, almost all female comedians, their subject was being a woman. Whereas male comedians, their subject was not being a man. In other words, women were treating themselves as if they were a minority when in fact they're 51% of the population.

Women don't have a history in comedy, you know, in the era of the great silent comics. We were all being tied to railway tracks while they were all being, you know…

Happy days.

There was… I think it was Germaine Greer who said, "There are only two things that women don't do as well as men, and that's design dresses and cook." Which is kind of an amusing thing, that actually almost all the great chefs and all the great couturiers are men, and yet the one thing we used to think about women is, oh, put them in the kitchen and make them design dresses.

So, according to the American study, if we had more women on the show, the panel would laugh more but the audience would laugh less, perversely.

14th-Nov-2011 03:55 am (UTC)
That wasn't satisfactory. They hardly skimmed the surface, cited a single unnamed study and essentially decided to continue on the path of not inviting more female comedians because of it instead of actively combating the idea that women aren't funny. Stephen didn't exactly combat Jack's earlier sexist comment, Sandi's sexist comment or the whole idea of it.

I don't want to turn this into a big discussion either, so I won't follow suit with the copy-paste and link some of Stephen's other statements where his attitudes towards women are less than stellar.

Edited at 2011-11-14 03:56 am (UTC)
14th-Nov-2011 02:16 pm (UTC)
"They hardly skimmed the surface, cited a single unnamed study"

Which is what they do for pretty much every subject discussed on the show.

"decided to continue on the path of not inviting more female comedians"


14th-Nov-2011 11:32 pm (UTC)
I tried to find a list of all the studies cited on QI and couldn't find anything. It's a shame that a show about knowledge doesn't provides their own sources... maybe I'll write in.
14th-Nov-2011 04:57 am (UTC)
They've had issues with not just that, but also with caricature racisms (involving ethnic minorities that don't have as strong a presence in the UK unlike South Asians/blacks/Arabs/etc.) and sexism (as noted above by other commenters).

tbh I just associate it with the panellists being mostly white, middle-aged, middle-class, and not exactly from ethnically diverse home backgrounds. I have to frame it in terms of Backwards Posh Uncle - because of the age and 'set in their ways' state of being at this point, all you can really do is just roll your eyes and work around it/remember redeeming qualities. The key is to recognise what it is though, and not make excuses for them.
14th-Nov-2011 06:17 am (UTC)
Oh, I forgot about this and you totally reminded me of it.

Completely agreed. :|

The thing is, the whole hijra thing is very cultural - they're not even so much transgender as they are a whole 'third' sex in the South Asian culture (AFAIK), and they hold this difficult position of being considered special but still very marginalized. I won't claim to be an expert on this but I do know a thing or two, and I did cringe at the whole thing, because hijras are indeed quite interesting, but also quite sad (the way they are treated in society at times). They are quite often the butt of a joke in Indian films, too, sadly - though sometimes there is more genuine representation.

Even a show that generally has the appearance of being a more "high brow" and intelligent than most panel shows would have trouble grasping the subject in all its nuances, and they did an especially poor job here. It was annoying, and sad.
14th-Nov-2011 06:06 am (UTC)
I hated Al Murray's stand up the only time I ever saw any (and since most of his routine seemed to be about tearing into an audience member for being a nerd, I was surprised to see him in QI!) but he was good, I'll admit.

Everybody seemed to be in a good mood, and the whole episode just had a really nice vibe to it.

I loved that series B rant from Stephen, and it reminds you how long they've come, I think Alan used to genuinely annoy him at times, though sometimes that was pure trolling on Alan's part. But Alan's a lot more inquisitive/interested these days, or maybe he always was, but just didn't let it show?

Dara ♥ and Sandi is just legit. She already hosts a panel show, albeit on the radio, but you're right that she would be a very good QI master. She has a dry sense of humour but like Stephen, she is also very interested/full of knowledge and can be mocked for sounding quite posh. :P
14th-Nov-2011 09:50 am (UTC)
Al Murray's Pub Landlord persona isn't everyone's cup of tea, but a lot of his other routines are very funny, if very shouty. :) Al himself though is a massive wartime history buff, and read history at Oxford - fits in with the crowd really!
14th-Nov-2011 12:10 pm (UTC)
I'm not usually an Al Murray fan, but he was quite lovely on QI, wasn't he? Charming and inquisitive and interesting. Based on this performance, I did wonder if he'd ever been on it before, and now I really hope he's on it again.

Also, Sandi - I used to quite dislike her, but I've warmed to her so much during this series.

Dara is always perfect as a QI guest. I love that Stephen gave him points back, although I'm not entirely sure Dara really knew that fish have something like a tongue but which isn't a tongue, if you understand me.

The transgender question: I don't think it was meant to be offensive. I saw the joke being aimed at the people who are backwards-thinking enough to find the presence of a transgender person embarassing, rather than it being aimed at transgender people. That said, I'm surprised this section made it into the edit - I feel like the editors ought to have realised that some people would be offended, and I don't doubt there was enough funny stuff other than this that they might have used instead and avoided all conflict.
14th-Nov-2011 12:20 pm (UTC)
"I saw the joke being aimed at the people who are backwards-thinking enough to find the presence of a transgender person embarassing, rather than it being aimed at transgender people"

I agree with this - I think the whole point was that they were using something like that to embarass people, not that the trans-gender person was embarassing themselves. I think the more offensive thing was that people like that are used in that way, not the conversation that they had about it on QI.

I enjoyed this episode, I think it was much much better without the "expert", and I hope they stay back on this format rather than having experts again!
16th-Nov-2011 01:44 pm (UTC)
Agree. With everything. No wait, I already liked Sandi. Apart from that, I agree ;)
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