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Series / Fist of Fun

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BBC comedy show starring comedy double act Stewart Lee and Richard Herring. One of the last of an era of sketch shows presented in front of a studio audience that began with Monty Python's Flying Circus. Fist of Fun began as a radio show in 1993 before being adapted into a television show in 1995, although sketches from Radio One FM's Lee and Herring show were also adapted. Similar in style to a A Bit of Fry and Laurie and The Mary Whitehouse Experience, being quite intellectual and popular with students and 20-somethings. The main difference being that Lee and Herring were more self deprecating and played up their Generation X alter egos; Herring as the neurotic manchild and Lee being the aloof Morrissey lookalike who would "listen to music that nobody else would like just to show off". Other recurring characters included 'Peter' (played and written by Peter Baynham, previously of The Day Today), a disgusting loser who provided "Lifestyle Tips", and Simon Quinlank (Kevin Eldon), an over-zealous hobbyist who had a Nazi-esque enthusiasm for various bizarre hobbies ("Old Man Collecting").

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Provides examples of:

  • Berserk Button: Any suggestion to "Rod Hull" that he isn't actually Rod Hull: "I AM HIM!"
  • British Brevity: Two series of six episodes.
  • Companion Cube:
    • Donny Oddlegs, Peter's only friend.
    • The second friend Peter (literally) made in the second series, Ian Milkcartonbody.
  • Epunymous Title: Parodied in the Spin Off book with a whole list of sitcom titles based on the theme of "X in the Y' ("Bird in the Hand" Ian Bird is manager of 'The Hand' pub' "God in Heaven" Ian Godd is manager of 'Heaven' pub).
  • The Ghost: Simon Quinlank has a bitter rivalry with someone called Neil Petark.
  • Jerkass: Rich throws Peter's only friend in a bin and sets him on fire. And teases the 'Girl Who Smelt of Spam'.
  • Loners Are Freaks: Peter definitely qualifies.
  • Running Gag: Every episode starts with Lee and Herring jumping out of crates - or, rather, Lee and somebody else (be it a Frenchman or the gimp from Pulp Fiction) jumping out of crates.
    • The Hobby sketches also usually involve a reference to a weak lemon drink.
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  • Self-Deprecation: The tie-in book contains a number of pages celebrating mediocrity in all its forms. The last of these is about the world's most mediocre comedy double-act, Lee and Herringnote .
  • Sound to Screen Adaptation: Started on BBC Radio.
  • Special Guest: None other than the real Rod Hull!
  • Spiritual Successor: This Morning with Richard not Judy. In some ways it had the feel of being a live Sunday-lunchtime version of Fist of Fun, with some of Kevin Eldon's characters still around.
  • Spoof Aesop: "Stewart Lee's True Fables": The moral of The Ant And The Man? Well the ant, being an insect, had died of old age.
  • Stalker Shrine: Rich has a shrine to Julia Sawalha (complete with a well) and a wig that looks like her hair.
    • Truth in Television: Rich went on to have a relationship with Julia Sawalha for about a year in the late nineties.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Rich would say something; Stew would point out it was nonsense, ending with a rhetorical reductio ad absurdum such as "Or do you want to swim in raw sewage?" Richard would then reply "Honestly, if I wanted to swim in sewage then I'd..." and proceed to outline a highly detailed plan for breaking into his local sewage plant during the guard's teabreak.
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    • In the stage show, during a lengthy Stewart Lee monologue, Richard left the stage with Peter and came back later with Peter's hair looking suspiciously damp. When Stewart asked what had happened, Rich replied 'Well, someone definitely didn't flush his head down the toilet seven times.'
  • Take That!: Stew and Richard often insulted each other or public figures, usually Patrick Marber or anybody complaining to or about the show.
  • The Bully: Richard's constant mistreatment of Peter. Viewers would send him gifts that Richard would "accidentally" destroy in front of him.
    • According to Lee and Herring, the entire setup for the show was based on the idea of a clear hierarchy between characters, with Rich bullying Peter, Stew bullying Rich, and the outside world bullying Stew.
    • Simon Quinlank got in on this with his "train ignoring" hobby. This requires the presence of a trainspotter to tell you which trains you've ignored. When there are no trains around, Simon passes the time by bullying his trainspotter, and suggests you do the same.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Rod Hull loves his jelly.
  • Unreadably Fast Text: The end credits provided a spoof 'Events Guide' full of silly messages. One of these was an advertisement for the Lee and Herring Video Repair Shop, suggesting you visit if you broke your video player by pausing it too many times.
    • There were also a number of pop-up text balloons that appeared throughout the show. These always disappeared before they could possibly be read. Viewers just barely had time to notice them at all.

You can drink your weak lemon drink now.


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