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Podcast / No Such Thing As A Fish

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Left to Right: Andrew Hunter Murray, Dan Schreiber, Anna Ptaszynski, and James Harkin.

James: We ran it on QI a few years ago.
Dan: Yeah?
James: Which was, there's no such thing as a fish.
Dan: What do you mean there's no such thing as a fish?
James: No, seriously, it's in the Oxford Dictionary of Underwater Life. It says it right there, first paragraph, "no such thing as a fish".
— The intro to episodes 1-41

A weekly podcast coming from the QI offices in Covent Garden in London, join Dan Schreiber, Anna Ptaszynski, James Harkin, and Andrew Hunter Murray as they gather around the microphones and share their four favorite facts from the last week and discuss and explore related facts and ideas.

The first episode was released on March 8, 2014. Since then, the show has grown into one of the most popular British podcasts. Many episodes are recorded in front of live audiences, attracting large crowds around the UK as well as other countries.

The podcast has also spawned a spin-off TV series called No Such Thing as the News, which ran for 2 short seasons in 2016. The series focused specifically on ongoing or recent events, as opposed to more general topics discussed on the podcast.

This show provides examples of:

  • The Alcoholic: Anna is known for her love of alcoholic drinks, particularly beer.
  • Awful Wedded Life: James can't help but make "take my wife"-style jokes, which the others credit to his being a northern comedian.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: The hosts sometimes poke fun at the QI creator and co-producer John Lloyd whenever he appears on the show as a guest.
  • Brief Accent Imitation:
    • Andy loves doing voices when talking about celebrities, historical figures, or even just certain occupations.
    • James particularly likes to imitate the Queen and her trademark accent whenever she is brought up.
    • In one of the episodes where Dan is absent and Anna takes over as the main host, she takes a jab at his accent by pronouncing the location of the QI offices as the hyper-rhotic "Covernt Gardern"; Dan is known to pronounce R's where there is no R in writing, e.g. he tends to pronounce "Chicago" as "She cargo".
  • British Stuffiness: Andy often plays on this trope, presenting himself as socially inept, fusty, and ludicrously middle-class.
  • Butt-Monkey: Dan verges on this. Anna describes him as "fourth among equals", and he catches way more mockery than the other hosts. Fortunately, he doesn't seem to mind.
    • Alex Bell, one of the editors of the podcast and an occasional guest host, is frequently "bullied" by the main four as a running joke whenever he appears on the show (and sometimes when he doesn't).
  • Call-Back: On top of regularly connecting current facts to ones discussed earlier in the episode, the hosts sometimes make call-backs to topics from several episodes or even years ago.
    • The following veritable hurricane of call-backs in episode 67 (to episode 64):
      James: But do you know why they're called banana rats?
      Andy: They eat bananas. They're radioactive!
      Dan: They emit antimatter.
      Andy: They don't really have legs.
  • Cheap Heat: When the group plays a live show, they invariably find some occasion to poke fun at the host city or reference some local stereotype. Particularly pronounced during visits to Scotland and Australia.
  • Christmas Episode: There's one at the end of each year, usually focusing on Christmas-themed facts.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Dan usually plays this role, often delivering facts of dubious plausibility, taking pseudoscience at face value, failing to read the body of articles and simply getting his facts from the titles, and falling for the other hosts' obvious lies. His penchant for fortean phenomena is so strong that the mere mention of yetis counts as a laugh line during live shows.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: In very rare instances, an outlandish fact presented by Dan gets checked after the show and is found to be correct, something that he will definitely point out on his Twitter.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Each host has their moments, but by far the biggest offender is Anna.
  • Disco Dan:
    • Anna allegedly uses the fax machine to send her facts to the other guys, though this is likely a joke, as she does run the podcast's official email account.
    • Dan, fittingly, has an obsession that qualifies him for this trope. He is a massive fan of WWF-era Professional Wrestling, as demonstrated in episode 375.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The early episodes were recorded with cheap microphones, had very spotty editing full of awkward transitions and poor audio quality, and featured a long intro sequence that has since been cut down to just the theme tune. Additionally, the podcast experimented a lot with various formats and guest hosts throughout its first year, something that barely ever happens nowadays.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Do not call Andy "Drew".
  • Female Misogynist: Anna assumes this role every now and then, jokingly bashing women and the suffrage movement.
  • Forgotten Theme Tune Lyrics: The podcast uses the instrumental version of the song "Wasps" by Emperor Yes as its theme music. Occasionally, the vocal version will be used for special episodes.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Dan has mentioned that he has a second-dan black belt in taekwondo.
    • Andy is a stage actor who performs as part of the Jane Austen-themed troupe Austentatious. He is also a science fiction author, with his thriller novel The Last Day being advertised in several episodes of the podcast.
    • James is a certified football referee.
  • Hilarious Outtakes: Subverted. The compilation episodes only partly consist of bloopers; most of their content is just bits that didn't fit into the regular episodes for various reasons, usually to cut down the episode length.
  • Hopeless with Tech: Played for laughs. Anna has a reputation for being way behind the times and not knowing how to operate modern devices like phones or computers. She also largely avoids social media, being the only one on the show who doesn't have a Twitter account. It has been mentioned, though, that she doesn't actually have any trouble with technology, and is one of the main people behind QI's official @qikipedia Twitter account.
  • The Hyena: All four hosts are prone to laughter, often starting to laugh before the fact is fully read out. Somewhat justified, as most of the facts do end up being quite amusing.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Every episode is titled 'No Such Thing As X', with X being a reference to a joke or fact from that episode.
  • I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: The podcast's guest hosts have often worked on QI, such as John Lloyd, Alan Davies, Stephen Fry, Sandi Toksvig, and fellow QI elves.
  • Left It In: Especially common in live episodes, which are harder to edit down without creating abrupt cuts due to worse audio quality, natural reverb, and crowd noise.
  • Named Like My Name: James mentions in one of the episodes that he occasionally gets confused with the journalist James Harkin. However, since the podcast has taken off in popularity, the latter is on the receiving end of this more often.
  • One of the Boys: Anna is often more laddish than the male hosts.
  • Prophetic Names: One of the most common types of facts presented on the show are ones related to nominative determinism.
    • Dan's last name fits. "Schreiber" is German for "scribe" or "writer", befitting Dan's current job as a writer for QI.
  • Pungeon Master: Andy and especially James are known for their love of making puns, drawing mixed reactions from the other hosts and the audience.
  • Running Gag: The podcast has had a lot of these over the years, though they usually don't last for more than a few episodes.
    • Calling a person or a thing that has previously been mentioned on the show "friend of the podcast". Even if they've been dead for centuries, like Everard Digby.
    • If an animal species is brought up, expect a fact about their penises.
    • If an official QI book is mentioned (especially if it was co-written by some or all of the podcasters), expect one of the hosts to start enthusiastically advertising it on the spot.
    • James not having seen many popular movies, despite knowing a great deal about them otherwise.
    • Spoiling the stories of various works, most notably the ending of Anna Karenina.
    • Andy's pet topic is moss, and Dan's is yetis.
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: Fact discussions devolve into this at least once every episode.
  • Self-Deprecation: A staple of all four hosts.
  • Social Media Is Bad: In the "Behind the Gills" documentary, Anna states that the reason why she refuses to come near social media is that she's afraid it would completely consume her.
  • Studio Audience: Many episodes are recorded in front of a live audience.
  • Take Our Word for It: Whenever something visual happens (e.g. James makes a funny face and Anna comments on it), the listeners at home only have the audio to go off of. Averted for members of the live audience (if it's a live show), as well as No Such Thing as the News, where everything is shown on camera.
  • True Companions: The crew has said that working on the podcast has brought them very close together, and that the relationship between them is like siblings.
  • Vetinari Job Security: Whenever Dan is absent, one of the other hosts has to step into his shoes as the main host, with varying degrees of success. Anna is the most competent at it, though she's noticeably less energetic than Dan. Alex Bell also gives it a try in one of the episodes and fails miserably.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: Dan is of Australian parentage, grew up in Hong Kong, and has spent more than a decade in Britain, but his accent is rhotic, vaguely North American, and very peculiar.
  • World Tour: While most of the live shows are done within the UK and Ireland, the podcast has visited a few other countries such as the USA, Australia, and Germany.

Episodes of this series provide examples of:

  • …And That Little Girl Was Me: Episode 61:
    Dan: I once went to a party where the host of the party employed the yellow card, red card system. The idea was, if you got too drunk, too rowdy, you'd get a yellow card. If you then repeated an offense you'd get a red card.
    Andy: And what happened if you got a red card, do you have to go home?
    Dan: Yeah, I had to go home. I got red carded.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Episode 83:
    Anna: Cats have a long and noble history of impersonating dogs, though, don't they? Because they can bark like dogs. Like, if you have cats and dogs living together, then cats will learn to impersonate dogs.
    Dan: Okay, hang on, no. I've never... yeah. And I'm the Mongolian Death Worm guy!
  • Bigger Than Jesus: From the "Behind the Gills" documentary:
    Anna: I think we did better than The Beatles, in terms of working closely and not hating each other.
    James: Yeah. And if you think about it, they're bigger than Jesus, and we're bigger than them.
    Anna: There you go. Us > The Beatles > Jesus.
  • Captain Obvious: Andrew in episode 222:
    "There are fish called grunion and to have sex they throw themselves on land — which is inconvenient because they are fish."
  • Celebrity Endorsement: In episode 109, Dan attempts to promote Etihad hoping to get a free trip to Abu Dhabi, before being promptly shot down by Andy.
  • Comically Missing the Point: In episode 266, Andy talks about how Microsoft made typesetting widely available to everyone, causing a "massive shift in power" from professional graphic designers to the general public, which may have been the main contributor to the popularity of Comic Sans. James then responds with this:
    "What you're saying is, basically, when you give people democratic choice, they end up doing something stupid."
  • Curse Cut Short: A self-interruption from James in Episode 430 while discussing rumors of Emily Dickinson having a spicy time with a man at her house:
    "Do you think it was [Noah] Webster? And he was like, nice Arse, nice Boobs, nice... anyway."
  • Inferiority Superiority Complex: Episode 330, while discussing the small penises of golden moles:
    Anna: I mean, just to be clear: we're not judging them on anything, are we, Andy?
    Andy: Well, speak for yourself, I am. Judge, judge, judge.
    James: There's not many people Andy can judge on this particular metric but the 1-millimeter penis golden mole.
    Andy: You betcha! Those idiots! With their even smaller penises.
    Dan: Just.
  • Lampshaded the Obscure Reference:
    • The end of episode 225:
      James: The magic word "Expelliarmus" is from Harry Potter I think, isn't it? According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it comes from the Latin "expellere", meaning "to drive or force out", and "arma", which means "weapon". But unfortunately, "arma" was also a euphemism for "penis". So Harry Potter is probably saying something like "Penis begone!"
      [everyone laughs]
      Andy: Does that mean the first line in Virgil's Aeneid is "I sing of penis and the man"?
      [mild laughter]
      James: ...I think a lot more people got the Harry Potter reference.
    • James in episode 371, in response to Dan's fact about stereotactic frames:
      "Sounds like that thing on Saw, you know, that rips people's heads open. Like, you put them in this contraption and if you don't... get the key in time... I'm the only who's seen that movie, okay, never mind."
  • Little Known Facts: Anna in episode 2:
    "Did you guys know that Abraham Lincoln's contact lenses were made of wood?"
  • Noodle Incident: Episode 188:
    Dan: Oh wow! Like Andy's anal thing that he was talking about earlier.
    Andy: Sorry!?
    James: So for the people listening to this podcast on Friday...
    Andy: And I would hope you would edit this bit right out.
    James: Not a chance.
    [audience laughs]
    Andy: There's a new robot that—
    James: No, no, we don't have time for this! We don't have time, no, no, we don't have time, no, no. People can just imagine what you were thinking about.
  • Speak in Unison: Episode 198:
    Anna: ...and then he would sit there for 4 to 5 hours...
    Dan and Andy: FORTY-FIVE HOURS!?
  • That Came Out Wrong:
    • Episode 82:
      Anna: This year is the first time a Brit has won the town crier championships, this is very exciting. Mark Wylie beat off 24 other contestants...
      James: And they were like, "OYEZ!"
    • Episode 188:
      Dan: We used to play in Australia (for sports): you would sit on a big wooden pole, and you'd each have a pillow and you'd try and wack each other off— uh, sorry—
      Andy: I wasn't aware you had such a traditional education, Dan!
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: In episode 105, James shares a fact that in 19th century America people treated agalactia (women's inability to produce breast milk) by putting pancakes on the affected breasts, which prompts the following exchange:
    James: I don't know what they thought it would do, but you would put a warm pancake on the breast, and then when it got cold you put another warm one on, and keep doing that for a couple of hours and then—
    Andy: What would they do with all the cooled breast pancakes?
    James: Just make some new pancakes, Andy!
    Andy: That's very wasteful! You could give them to... perverts!
  • Weirdness Censor: In episode 82 Dan argues... passionately that stick insects are clearly plants that have gained animacy, but we all choose to believe they're just some bizarre kind of insect because we can't comprehend the truth.