British Panel Game that is BBC2's equivalent of Have I Got News for You, with strong influence from Whose Line Is It Anyway? (which isn't surprising, considering they were created by the same people). It involves only comedians and is hosted by Dara Ó Briain, an Irish comedian. The series started in 2005 and is still ongoing. It is now in its twelfth series.The show's regulars are Hugh Dennis (from the start) and Chris Addison (series 9-present) and guest on one team and Andy Parsons (series 3-present) and two guests on the other. Former regulars are Russell Howard (series 4-9, who left to star in his own show Russell Howard's Good News), Frankie Boyle (series 1-7) and Rory Bremner (series 1 and 2). The guests are usually English, Scottish, Welsh, and Irish comics, but occasionally include American, Australian, and Canadian comedians.
The current rounds are:
"What On Earth?" / "Picture of the Week": "What On Earth?" is a simple game where the players are shown a picture of something that's been in the news and have to guess what it is, as ever making humorous suggestions before somebody comes in with the real answer. Initially very rarely shown on initial broadcasts (occasionally making it to end of season clip shows or the DVDs), this round occasionally replaced "Headline News" in the 2012 series, and beginning with 2013 appears to have permanently replaced it.
[The picture is a group of men dressed as Santa]
Frankie: Is this a picture of the sperm inside Santa's testicles?
Russell Howard: This is actually what goes on inside Christmas crackers.
"Spinning The News": Some of the performers, usually two from each team, do a mini-standup routine on a randomlynote Or so the programme would have you believe - the panellists know exactly which topics are going to come up and in what order, and the routines have been prepared in advance selected topic. Dara gives the game a different, odd title each week, such as "News Wheel...Of Death!", "Harry Potter and the Wheel of News", "Danger! Danger! Subatomic Joke Collider!" or "Ashley Cole Sent Me A Picture of his Mock".
Over the life of the show the makeup of "Spinning The News" has changed somewhat. Originally all six players would have to do a mini-standup team, with the last two going head-to-head in a "tiebreaker". The number was soon reduced to four regularly, and in recent series only two or three.
"If This Is The Answer, What Is The Question?": The players are given a choice between several categories of recent news stories such as sport, international news and the arts, revealing an oddly-phrased or very oblique answer. The players then exchange joking questions before trying to figure out what the question actually is. The joking ones tend to be very elaborate.
(answer: "15 per second")
Lauren Laverne: How many pounds sterling is Simon Cowell paid to cut the cultural throat of our nation and drink its still-warm blood?
(actual question: "How fast were copies of the final Harry Potter novel selling on release day?")
"Newsreel": While silent footage from a recent public or televised event plays, one or two players (at least one of them usually Hugh Dennis) narrates or does dialogue (or both) as the people featured go about their business. Still played occasionally, but definitely not as frequent as it used to be.
Prince Philip (at a tour of a police station, spotting officers waiting to meet him): "Oh, my. It's the fuzz. No, no, I didn't know it was an osprey..."
"Scenes We'd Like To See": Always closing the show, Dara suggests topics like "Unlikely Things To Hear On Blue Peter", and the contestants come in with funny suggestions ("And that's how we make an ash tray out of the shell of a dead tortoise!"). Probably the funniest, or at least most consistently funny, section of the show.
(topic: "Bad Things To Hear At Work")
Fred MacAulay: "Get off, you're shit."
The former rounds are/werenote Mostly dropped because they involved impressions and Rory Bremner left after series two, leading to a change in the show's setup:
"Headline News": The performers are shown a picture taken from a newspaper, with that newspaper's corresponding headline reduced to the first letter of each word, which they then have to decipher. Naturally, they have a little fun with likely letters of the alphabet, to the point where Dara sometimes has to rein them in. Appears to have been dropped in series 12 and replaced with "Picture of the Week".
(the letters are T.F.H.C. — and the players have been going on in the same vein for some time)
Dara: Let me give you a clue — the first three letters do not stand for "This Fucker Has..."!
Hugh Dennis: Is it "That Fucker Has Cancer"?
Dara:Stop saying fuck! The 'f' doesn't stand for 'fuck!'
"Between The Lines": Originally a mainstay of the show, but has since fallen out of popularity and has not been played since Frankie Boyle left. The game consists of two players, one giving a speech from a well-known public figure, and the other saying what they really mean. Rory Bremner or Frankie Boyle normally performed the public figure (although at least 2 others - Sandi Toksvig and Russell Howard - have done it at least once), with Hugh Dennis performing their inner voice.
Sandi Toksvig: (as Queen Elizabeth II) ...but there have also been times of incredible loss.
Hugh: "..but there have also been times of incredible ("correcting" her extreme-RP upper-class accent) loss.
Hugh: My yacht. (she nods) My private train. (she nods) Zimbabwe. (she nods)
"Dating Videos": A performer from each side was given an envelope, within which was a card they'd never seen before, and made to sit in front of a backdrop. On the card was the name of a famous person they had to pretend to be, recording a dating video.
Rory Bremner (as Nelson Mandela): "I'm over eighty. I look like a pint of Guinness. But wait until you see "Nelson's Column"!"
Frankie Boyle (as Michael Jackson): "Hello. I'm sort of like a Scooby-Doo villain. I hang around an abandoned amusement park wearing a plastic face."
"Ask The Politicians": The show's tribute to the current-affairs show Question Time. Normally two or three players went into the studio audience, and were often called on with excessively-detailed or insulting physical descriptions; the others stayed in their seats. Dara of course played host of the show. Rory Bremner played a certain famous Labour politician, and Dennis was usually a Conservative. Guest Al Murray appeared twice as "The Voice of the Silent Majority", portraying a xenophobic and hardline-on-crime "regular person".
Al Murray: "Speaking for the people who would have shot that burglar a third time...I wouldn't have done that. What I would've done is dug a pit with spikes, put a rug on top, they fall in — (holding imaginary rifle) BANG! BANG! BANG! WHO'S THERE? BANG!"
"Prime Minister's Questions": For all the players. Dara would take the role of Speaker of the House of Commons, Rory would play a certain Labour Prime Minister, and the rest would do their level best to play members of the opposing or majority parties, depending on which side of the aisle set they were on. Given a rather trivial news story to debate, they were to treat it as though it were the heavyweight issue of the day. Typically became a Hurricane of Puns.
(regarding some frogs having exploded in Germany, and the House reacting as though it was a terrorist threat)
"Bombshell Phone Calls": The only game in this list to be played past Series 2 (it got played once in Series 3), two players would pretend to be major world figures, one giving the other a call with a major revelation to make.
Frankie Boyle (as Tony Blair, to George Bush): "You mean I left [my wife] Cherie behind?"
This show contains examples of:
Absolute Cleavage: A male example: Chris Addison doesn't seem to know how the top four buttons on any of his shirts work.
A Date with Rosie Palms: Frankie relating the bizarre conversation when Dara told him that his exercise bike causes his balls to go numb, meaning he's forced to fluff himself every 20 minutes to get the circulation back. Cue much fun as everyone takes turn riffing on the possibility of Dara releasing a fitness video that keeps randomly breaking into softcore porn.
This is also Frankie's pasttime when it comes to watching Nigella Lawson.
Adorkable: Ed Byrne does an adorably dorky little dance when his jokes hit big laughs.
Miles Jupp: While I've been speaking, I imagine that a lot of the ladies in here have been looking at me, thinking is he... or isn't he? Well, I've got to be honest with you ladies: I am looking for a cleaner.
Seann Walsh: Oh, yeah, just press that, you'll be alright.
[Unlikely Things To Hear In A Superhero Movie]
Seann Walsh: (miming talking on a phone) "Just call the police." (Walks off again, miming throwing the phone over his shoulder)
Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering?: Frequently in the two rounds where the player have to guess the answer, they will get closer to the answer before somebody sends it steering off into the ridiculous again.
[The letters for the Headliners round are C.D.W.B.]
Dara: "Church" is the first word...
Andy: "Church Decision, Women Bishops"!
Lucy Porter: "Church Do Women Bishops"!
Michael Mcintyre: "Church Deny Wearing Bedspreads"!
Dara: The 'D' stands for... see, everyone got closer and closer and closer, and then suddenly "deny wearing bedspreads"!
Frankie Boyle (as Shappi Korsandi struggles to believe that Erik the Red used false advertising to bring people to his Greenland colony): "Oh yeah, the Vikings did a lot of bad shit. Not just raping and pillaging; also lies!"
The Artifact: Hugh Dennis to an extent, as he is the only member of the current panel who is not an active stand-up comedian.
Black Comedy: An excellent example stems from an episode where the topic of Alexander Litvinenko, who died of radiation poisoning after being dosed by polonium-laced food and drink, came up. Frankie Boyle said that the British people obviously respected him very much:
Frankie Boyle: "If you go to his gravesite, there's no weeds. (lets it sink in) In fact, there's no plant life for a mile around. And if you look, you can find all sorts of small woodland creatures who've just died of sadness, Dara."
In general, Frankie Boyle is made of this trope.
In a later episode, Miles Jupp comes out with this gem during "Things You Wouldn't Hear at Christmas."
Miles: Dear Santa, this Christmas could I please have a less violent step-dad?
Butt Monkey: Dara is always the butt of someone's joke...
Hugh Dennis: (Unlikely things to hear on Crimewatch) Sometimes victims of crime don't even know they've been robbed, because they use the items taken so infrequently. Take Dara O'Briain. Burglars stole his legs six months ago.
Chained to a Railway: Discussed in one episode, where Dara thought that the villains who did that sort of thing would be amongst the people most affected by the train cancellations that saw only 1 in 500 London Midland trains running at the weekend.
Dara: [mimes piano playing] "Keep it going, there'll be one along in an hour or so..."
Character Tic: Russell's habit of picking the microphone up during the "Scenes We Like To See" round.
Noticable in that this actually becomes memetic, as no-one ever seems to pick up the microphone until after Russell does.
In fact, the first time he does it, he actually asks if it's okay to take it before he does.
Hugh Dennis and Russell Howard also have shades of this at times.
Cluster F-Bomb: When Frankie Boyle or the rare foulmouthed guest gets revved up...
Comically Missing the Point: Dara jokes about Ed Milliband not seeing the glaring flaw in his plan to make people stop seeing him as a geek... by proudly announcing to the world that one of his supporters is none other than Patrick Stewart himself!
The Cuckoolander Was Right: On some occasions, somebody has given a joke answer in the "If This is the Answer..." round only to discover that it was, in fact, correct.
[The answer is "Between 19 and 23"']
David Mitchell: Is it the number of English counties likely to be underwater in a hundred years' time?
Ed Byrne: "These are the Chilean miners, which are stuck down the Chilean mine..."
Early-Installment Weirdness: The first four series have a lot of this; a very different tone due to the different regulars and a different choice of guests, Dara's opening stand-up, everybody playing the 'Spinning the News' round, more categories in "Scenes We'd Like to See"...
Not to mention the focus on Rory Bremner's impressions, which completely disappeared once he left after two series.
In the first few series, the "Scenes We'd Like to See" would have some tenuous connection to the news (i.e. in the week where Tony Blair's plane was forced to land due to difficulties, the subject was "Unsettling Things to Hear from the Cockpit of a Plane"). This was dropped quite quickly.
(*meeting a woman in a police station): Oh my, you..you really have a terrific pair of norks...Sorry to mention them again, but they really are wonderful. Are you a strippogram?
(*meeting Nicholas Sarkozy and his wife): Ooh, you froggy bastard, where's the wife..oh I say...ooh, she really puts the lead in my pencil. Quick Carla, what's your number, we haven't got much time.
(*Hugh playing a Royal Commentator at an event that didn't feature Prince Phillip): And now the guests rise for the traditional musical chairs, and the Queen reads the rules: No ducking, no bombing, no grabbing...and no Prince Phillip, you'll notice - He uses these occasions, when he knows exactly where the Queen is, to go and shag someone younger and more attractive.
Earpiece Conversation: Whenever the guests (or just Frankie) end up getting too out of control, cue Dara trying to calm everyone down since the producers are literally screaming down the earpiece at him...
Of course, Greg Proops has made some appearances on Mock the Week as well. As has Clive Anderson.
And it's not hard to see that both shows were produced by Dan Patterson and Mark Leveson.
Fake Brit: Frankie Boyle's whenever he does a English Accent.
Becomes hilarious when you realise that despite his English accent sounding absolutely nothing like him, Frankie was always chosen to be the one to play Tony Blair. Perhaps they were operating on the logic that since Tony Blair was born in Scotland, why not send a Scotsman to play him?
Later subverted in another round of "What A TV Chef Would Never Say": "I'm Nigella Lawson, and what I love about presenting this programme is the knowledge that at home, Frankie Boyle has just about ripped his cock off."
Later subverted even further by Russell as he impersonated her, moving his arms like they were her knockers.
Genre Blindness: In one episode, Dara showed the players a recent news article on a report suggesting that people with larger heads were less susceptible to Alzheimer's... which had referred to him as an example of someone with a 'big head', even putting a picture of him (with the caption 'EXTRA LARGE') next to the article. When the players started teasing him about it mercilessly, he said that he expected sympathy.
Dara: I was expecting sympathy! That's why I introduced this story!
Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Greg Davies is nearly twice the height of Lucy Porter. When both guest-starred together and cuddled at the spinning news round (Davies saying to her "This will never work, Frodo"):
Dara: That is just against nature.
Hurricane of Puns: As much a target of the players' humor as used by them. While discussing a Viagra fraud case in which the perpetrators had been arrested, Russell Howard noted he'd seen it on the news and that the anchors started riffing on it:
Russell Howard: ''"Did you happen to see the News24 reaction? It was fantastic—cause it came, like, 'News just in—' and they found out about the Viagra tabs, and it was brilliant because they were doing little puns! They were genuinely kinda goin'—'I bet that's a hard case, heh.' 'I think they'll get a stiff sentence.' And then you could genuinely see—they obviously got a word in their ear and they went, *disappointed, head drooping* 'Yeah, okay...'"
Ed Byrne: During my college years, some marijuana was passed around. I did it in snow, I did it in sleet, but I did not... inhale. *silly dance*
Ed Byrne: Enjoy your animal-shaped biscuits. Do not eat if seal is broken. *grins punching the air*
Chris Addison: The Bronze Age was the third best age in history. *jumps up, clicks heels together grinning*
Milton Jones: [The Queen] is saying "I don't know where I am," and [the Indian Chief] is saying "It's okay: I am Sat-Navajo!" *face-palms*
Ed Byrne: Stephen Spielberg's Circumcision: The Director's Cut. *silly fist pump*
Milton Jones: If you push George W. Bush into that vat of concrete, that sets a very bad President.
Informed Flaw: After a newspaper article claimed that Dara has a GIANT Head, the guys began to riff on this, claiming Dara's head is so massive, it can curve space and that the logo is actually a small planet that got pulled into orbit around him.
Dara: I don't regard myself as having a large head! I have no trouble wearing hats! I have no problem getting into jumpers!
Irony: In one of Dara's early series monologues when discussing immigration:
Dara: Let's just take a moment to enjoy the irony of an Irish man making jokes about the immigrant work force in England.
It Makes Sense in Context: Hilariously, its Frankie of all people wonders how on earth did a political discussion end up with Hugh talking about something completely different while Russell tells Dara that "No-one bites my balls!"
Lampshade Hanging: Each of the performers is quite aware of the others' style of humor, so when Frankie Boyle ragged on Dara for teasing that a British swimmer raising money for cancer should have planted a flag on the North Pole's continental shelf, people were surprised and asked him how it felt to take the moral high ground.
Frankie: "It's all so bright up here."
It didn't last two minutes, as the topic led into the joke quoted in Black Comedy.
Frankie: "It's so dark and cold down here, Dara. I can just see the edges of your faces."
One Scenes We'd Like to See round was "The Very Worst Person to be President of the United States." One of Andy's responses:
Andy: This round is much easier if you can do impressions.
The most recent instance of "Unlikely Small Ads" in Scenes We'd Like to See:
Hugh: Wanted: New subject for Scenes We'd Like to See.
Russel: "What are Snap, Crackle, and Pop's DJ names?"
Manipulative Editing: A common complaint from those who've attended recordings is that the televised edit is heavily biased in favour of the regulars, meaning that a guest can appear very quiet as much more of their contributions were left on the cutting room floor.
Medium Awareness: When the show was broadcast the week of England's final World Cup group match, which determined whether or not they'd go through to the knockout stage, the show was filmed on Tuesday, the match played on Wednesday and the show broadcast on Thursday, Dara expressing worry about the resulting "time paradox".
Meta Guy: Parodied by Miles Jupp in a "Picture of the Week" round where, after a few suggestions of what the people in the photo might be saying, he always said "Perhaps they're not speaking at all".
Hugh: "Well, there's good news—you've had a baby; the bad news is, it's blown your cock off!"
Mondegreen: Guest player Adam is relating a story about his late gran mistaking the the Christmas carol "Deck The Halls" to be "Dick The Horse". Leads right into Crowning Moment of Heartwarming as Adam's uncle apparently improvised the first line of "Dick The Horse"; later, after she's passed on, Granddad had her tombstone engraved with a horse.
Mythology Gag: The most obvious one would be Scenes We'd Like To See, which started out as Scenes From A Hat on Whose Line, expanded from a one-act-per-suggestion affair to eight or ten, allowing them to milk a mere two suggestions for an entire stretch.
You'd be forgiven for thinking there were two Jimmy Saviles in the UK, considering Hugh's wildly different take from Steve Frost's.
""How's the weather up there?' It's freezing! There's a massive climate change in this amount of space here, you TOOTHLESS BUFFOON!"
Never Live It Down: In-universe, Dara once brought up the fact a newspaper article about people with bigger heads are unlikely to get Alzheimer's which the paper decided to depict with a picture of his head. The group take it in turns to mercilessly riff on the subject of "Dara's Big Head" for nearly 5 minutes, with Chris noting that when Dara revealed a weakness in front of a bunch of comedians, honestly, what did he think would happen?
No Fourth Wall: Dara often takes a moment to consider what the subjects of their jokes would think of them. For example, after Frankie mused on Rebecca Adlington's love life, Dara imagined her arriving back from the Olympics (where she won two gold medals in swimming, one in world record time) going "Ooh, I haven't seen Mock The Week in four weeks! I wonder who they're tearing into—oh. Oh."
No Sympathy: Dara is usually at the receiving end of it. Most hilariously, the Konnie Huq and the big head incident.
Not so Above It All: Dara. A lot of the cut material which airs in compilations/DVD extras shows him vainly trying to steer the panel away from an offensive joke and then giving up and riffing on it himself.
Perhaps one of the funniest examples is the David Blunkett incident. Dara tries valiantly to get the panel to not make jokes about Blunkett involving his blindness as per the producers' orders. Naturally, they don't comply. Finally, after many good laughs are had, Dara gives in and makes a joke of his own.
Only Sane Man: Hugh, relatively, if only because he tends to give out the proper answers once enough jokes have been told.
Dara as well. Watch his desperate attempts to keep the rest of the panel (mostly Frankie) in line during the game where the producers don't want them to make any jokes about Blunkett being blind.
Andy is relatively sane, giving the answers as well.
"It's like being in charge of a special school on a day out."
Our Lawyers Advised This Trope: Subverted on at least one occasion, when Eamonn Holmes had threatened legal action against the BBC over jokes made about his weight and the show immediately turned it into a running gag.
Pet the Dog: When a question came up after Andy Murray lost to Roger Federer, Dara quickly let the panelists know that Andy Murray was the in the audience. The audience stood up and clapped, as did Dara and the panellists, and the jokes were notably less stinging then usual. At the end of the episode Dara declared Andy Murray as the winner.
When Andy Murray went to a second taping, though, he was confronted with "Unlikely Things for Andy Murray to Think."
Hugh Dennis — "Are you paying too much for your car insurance?", "... sponsored by PowerGen", "What is your PIN number?", "Have you been injured at work?", Sir Jimmy SavilesayingShowaddywaddy...
Others have lampshaded some of Dennis' gags, such as when Frankie said in a "Scenes We'd Like To See" segment titled "What You Didn't Hear At Live Earth" stating "Live Earth, sponsored by Power Gen."
A particularly-specific one originated from Newsreel, when Hugh's "portrayal" of Prince Charles as an addled senile takes an interesting direction when Charles starts sampling some cheese. Future "portrayals" of Charles would involve random mentions of cheese for no reason.
In the series that began in June 2011, Hugh weekly riffs on the same joke that the name of Sepp Blatter, the president of FIFA, sounds like "step-ladder".
"Dara Ó Briain: we work, so he doesn't have to."
The backstory on this gag was a response to Andy Parsons and Chris Addison in a "Commercials That Never Made It To Air" Scenes We'd Like To See riff that started when Addison suggested "Do you have dry, lifeless hair? Don't Worry. Andy Parsons will buy it off you." Parsons' response: "How much did you say you made for those Direct Line Auto Insurance commercials? I think the people deserve to hear about this: HONK! HONK!HONK!HONK!" In turn, this comes from the American "Scrubbing Bubbles" Bathroom Cleaner slogan.
By proxy, there's the other players' tendency to take the mike out of the stand for Wheel O' News after Russell does.
Chris Addison — Pretending he doesn't recognise the people in the picture during "Headline News" and just naming two people with the initials of the headline. He's also done a few effeminate male versions of film/tv characters, like Dirty Harry and someone in charge of dismantling a bomb.
Everybody, but mostly Hugh and Frankie — chlamydia and HIV.
Many episodes have running gags that everyone gets in on that last the length of the episode, but don't carry over (for example, "nuts on the road" and "the racist door"). Some do carry over for a bit, like Andy Parsons's "Dyslexic Weekly", which involves interpreting the abbreviation in Headline News as a typo.
And they've even managed to start taking the piss out of them.
(Scenes We'd Like To See: "Things You Wouldn't Hear A Radio Announcer Say")
Frankie: "In that episode of The Hugh Dennis Story. Hugh Dennis was played by Bruce Willis, Steve Punt was played by Hugh Dennis, and the band was Showaddywaddy."
Hugh: (in mock anger) You...
Long-running news stories like the Chilean miners, the Gulf of Mexico oil leak, Josef Fritzl and his family and even the John Darwin Canoe scam tend to become these.
Somebody gets a big laugh on 'Scenes we like to see' and keeps on laughing. Andy goes up and just stands there before walking off.
Though once, Frankie's famous "What the Queen Didn't Say in her Christmas Message" joke claiming that her vajayjay was now haunted after so many runs of bad health, Hugh was just standing there before walking off.
Australian comedian Adam Hills loves taking pot shots at England's sports teams.
(Scenes We'd Like To See: "Things A Sports Commentator Would Never Say")
This one was thrown back in his face when Adam mentioned countries inventing things but no longer being good at them, citing England's invention of rugby and cricket as an example. The crowd started booing but Chris immediately snapped back by asking him who had won the last two (the 2013 series hadn't been played yet) Ashes.
The show being re-run on Dave.
(Scenes We'd Like To See: "Bad Things To Say In A Job Interview")
Andy: What do I see myself doing in five years' time? Exactly the same, only on Dave! (Wild applause from the audience)
("Unlikely Things To Hear At A Party Conference")
Andy: My name is Dave, like the TV channel. We both repeat the same shit over and over.
("Things You Won't Hear In A Science Documentary")
Hugh: The light from this new, distant planet takes so long to get here, we're seeing things that happened years ago, and that is why scientists have named it "Dave."
Dara's apparent resemblance to an unfortunately phallic sausage costume worn by a town mayor.
The fictional drama "Monsoon Poultry Hospital", even mocking up the DVD case with Dara as one of the nurses.
If Stewart Francis is on an episode, chances are he'll rag on Dara repeatedly.
Ireland's low medal count being mocked every four years come Olympics time. Andy did it in 2008 and Stewart Francis (going hand-in-hand with his usual digs at Dara) did it in 2012. The joke (Ireland winning gold in "Things you didn't hear at the Olympics") was slightly more relevant in 2008 since Ireland did win a gold at the 2012 Olympics.
Dara: One thing that I got tired of, the Canadian National Anthem.
Richard Hammond's accident
Russian Reversal: Hugh pulled a surprisingly clever one off in "Unlikely Things to Hear in the Police Station":
Hugh: ''Yes, yes, I know how identity parade works. That's her. That's her. That's the woman I robbed.
Scandalgate: Hugh Dennis made a joke about this, calling a scandal about tapping the phones of celebrities "stargate" and one about a politician's husband buying pornography "masturgate."
"It's been speculated that drug abuse is rife in the farming community, but it's hard to find any evidence; it's like looking for a..."
Separated by a Common Language: Imagine an American's reaction to Russell asking a crew member if he had a "fag" in school.note It means he had an underclassman who acted as a servant.
Serious Business: Dara mentions that during the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, he casually gave the score for the Ireland match on twitter, which was also happening that night. Cue him getting a flood of angry replies;
Small Reference Pools: Often subverted. Usually, Russell Howard will bring up a speculative fiction fandom, only for everyone else to get in an opinion on it, showing they are at least slightly versed. (There are sometimes even groups of fans in the audience.) An excellent example was when he discussed being in line for the last Harry Potter novel; they asked if he dressed up as one of the characters. When he said he hadn't, they continued that he'd missed a great opportunity to show up as someone else: "I'm sorry! I am Darth Vader! I wear this to all these kinds of things!" Russell finished by noting he should have dressed as a Sith Lord, waited in line all night, and when he got to the counter said "The Da Vinci Code, please."
[Headline News round: picture of Tony and Cherie Blair with the initials 'C.T.A.L.'] Russell Howard: Is it "Cherie Tries Anal Lube"? [the panelists riff on 'anal lube' for about five minutes] Hugh Dennis [giving the correct answer]: Is it "Cherie: That's A Lie"? Dara [perfectly straight face]: The answer I was looking for was "Cherie: That's Anal Lube."
Dara studied mathematics and theoretical physics at university and is often the one to correct maths errors and demonstrate his knowledge during discussions about the CERN super-collider.
Ed: Oh really? Are there any Irish people in? (*chorus of assent) How many "O'Bree-ens" do you know? note Ó Briain is in fact an Irish language name, since Dara is from the Gaeltacht, an Irish-speaking part of the country. Most Irish names are Anglicised.
Stealth Pun: Andy Parsons gives a great one for "Unlikely Things to Hear on a TV Talent Show":
Andy: Hello! I'm Billy Cock, and this is my partner, Brian Balls! And together we are...Billy and Brian!
Strictly Formula: More so than Whose Line, with "Spinning The News" and "Scenes We'd Like To See" marking the middle- and end-points of the show. Subverted by "Headline News" and "If This Is The Answer, What Is The Question?", which take turns starting the show.
Mark Watson: Room to let. No-one has died in it... no-one.
Take That: Each episode consists of the opening credits, about 27 minutes of this, and three minutes of jokes that aren't attacks on anyone or anything sprinkled throughout, then the ending credits. And considering the opening credits are mock newspaper or internet articles making fun of a large number of politicians/celebrities anyway, not even they are exempt.
Tempting Fate: One of the rounds in Scenes We'd Like to See was "Unlikely Things for Andy Murray to Think"... whilst Andy Murray was in the studio audience.
Too Soon: Series 7 premiered on 17 July 2009, barely three weeks after the death of Michael Jackson. Guess who Frankie Boyle made jokes about?
Lampshaded by Dara Ó Briain. Often, during his opening monologue, he would make a joke about, say, the assassination of JFK, and when the audience groaned would follow it up with a sarcastic "Oh, too soon?" This was particularly noteworthy when one such joke about a tragedy from decades ago got a groan from the audience, when moments earlier the audience had laughed merrily at jokes about Saddam Hussein's execution, which had happened that week.
Dara Ó Briain "See, the last time Britain lost the Ashes in a white wash, it was in 1921. But at least that time they had a decent excuse — the first eleven had all been killed at the Somme..."
Ed Byrne: It certainly puts a new spin on your parents telling you to go to your room and have a good "think" about what you did!
What Happened to the Mouse?: The first game played in the first episode was a round called "Inside the Mind Of...", where the panelists had to guess what the voices in somebody's head were saying - in that episode's case, George Bush. The round was never played beyond that first episode.
Who's on First?: Andy Parsons talks about money, then explains who runs China:
"China at the moment being run by two men, the Chinese premier, a man by the name of Wen, and the Chinese president, a man by the name of Hu. I kid you not, China is currently being run by Wen and Hu. It is like an Abbott and Costello skit. Just imagine. 'Who's the Chinese premier?' 'No, Wen's the Chinese premier; Hu's the Chinese president.' 'I don't know.' 'No, Hu's the Chinese president!' 'Since when?' 'No! Wen has never been the Chinese president!' "
Verbal Tic: Dara has a few, e.g. "... at this stage", "... of some description". Once you notice them you'll start hearing them all the time.
He also, erm, has a tendency to, eh, pause in the middle of sentences.
And often gives a long "ehh" after a sentence, especially a joke.
As well as sometimes adding, "Ah, sorry" when he thinks he's digressed from the original topic.
Andy Parsons has a lot of these, although there's a chance he intentionally does it as part of his act: "Didn't they/he/she/it?", beginning questions with "Is it in fact...", starting his standups with "Now!", etc.
Prefaces most punchlines with "and you're thinking..."
His habit of doing this is even lampshaded whenever Russell impersonates him.
Andy's voice having a tendency to go slightly higher on the second-to-last word of a sentence. Often flanderised whenever someone does an impression of him, where it becomes every other word instead.