Reviewer: Simon Topping
For the first time ever the mainstay and great love of British television, QI, comes to the stage. A rough and ready mix of Latitude festival guests, including Rachel Parris, Lou Sanders and Marcus Brigstocke join the panel, alongside stalwart Alan Davies and fabulous chairperson, Sandy Toksvig.
Highly anticipated by a bulging comedy tent and bounding onto stage accompanied with rock and roll introductions, the panelists arrive to great applause. Sandy Toksvig begins (defty and silently assisted by QI Elf, Anna Ptaszynski, as there are no edits here) to guide us through the proceedings in her marvelously inimitable way. Stephen Fry’s shoes were always going to be big ones to fill but it is clear to see why Toksvig was producer John Lloyds’ one and only choice for the role as Fry announced his departure; she is an amazingly witty host, full of great and funny stories and in a live setting fabulously filthy too. More, over, Toksvig handles the various personalities on the show with great grace, good nature and in a highly effective comedic way. Her appeal is boundless.
The free-wheeling nature of a live show suits some guests more than others. Davies, not surprisingly, is the most at ease. His role as klaxon fodder has been set down from the beginning of the televised show. Always wonderfully mischievous Davies ends up being spoon fed dry rice, goads the audience as they shout out wrong answers and hilariously leading a call and response that has the whole female congregation shouting ‘twit” as loud as they can.
Lou Sanders amiably bluffs her way through, often shifting her attention away from the show format with oblique asides and anarchic interruptions. She is caught out when she actually admits she doesn’t know what QI stands for but this all adds to the fun.
Marcus Brigstocke also leads effortlessly into several amusing anecdotes in a laidback performance and Rachel Parris, whilst never appearing relaxed, contributes well and makes the group dynamics a good one to watch.
There is plenty of toilet, or more accurately portaloo humour, as the QI Live focuses on Festival culture, dos and don’ts “It’s never too early for minge humour!” Toksvig exclaims. Several rounds are dropped as performance times need to be adhered to but the quiz holds well as a live performance. It is even more enjoyable than the televised show.
As cheers reverberate throughout the ether the crowd are left in no doubt that this was an experiment well worth testing; a sure-fire hit and well worth repeating. Quite possibly, if we are very lucky, QI will be on the road in the very near future. Fingers crossed.
Reviewed on 13 July 2018 | Image: BBC