Quite Interesting

stephen fry by andrew waugh

QI (‘Quite Interesting’) is a British television quiz show hosted by comedian Stephen Fry. There are four contestants in each show, of whom one is always stand-up comic Alan Davies. Most of the questions are extremely obscure, making it unlikely that the correct answer will be given. To compensate, points are awarded not only for right answers, but also for interesting ones, regardless of whether they are right or even relate to the original question.

QI has stated it follows a philosophy: everything in the world, even that which appears to be the most boring, is ‘quite interesting’ if looked at in the right way.

Conversely, points are deducted from a panellist who gives ‘answers which are not only wrong, but pathetically obvious, typically answers that are generally believed to be true but in fact are misconceptions. These answers are known as ‘forfeits,’ usually indicated by a loud siren, flashing lights, and the incorrect answer being displayed on screen. The show’s  panellists mainly come from a comedy background, although there have also been guests from other fields, including actors, television presenters, poets, and scientists. Davies has appeared in every episode, and often finishes last due to incurring forfeits.

The QI website describes the show’s philosophy: ‘We live, they say, in ‘The Information Age,’ yet almost none of the information we think we possess is true. Eskimos do not rub noses. The rickshaw was invented by an American. Joan of Arc was not French. Lenin was not Russian. The world is not solid, it is made of empty space and energy, and neither haggis, whisky, porridge, clan tartans or kilts are Scottish. So we stand, silent, on a peak in Darien a vast, rolling, teeming, untrodden territory before us. QI country. Whatever is interesting we are interested in. Whatever is not interesting, we are even more interested in. Everything is interesting if looked at in the right way. At one extreme, QI is serious, intensely scientific, deeply mystical; at the other it is hilarious, silly and frothy enough to please the most indolent couch-potato.’

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