I have tickets to all 6 RHLSTPs this season, and having attended the first very funny and rather silly episode with Chris Addison, where the focus was on who had smashed the kitchen cupboards in the flat they shared with Stewart Lee, Dan Antopolski and Richard Thomas in 1992, which has been an ongoing mystery for a number of years, this week’s show was the one that I was so looking forward to seeing. The wonderful Stephen Fry.
Trusting Richard’s bookings, I blindly bought all my front row seats. I know that next week I’m seeing Mary Beard and John Lloyd, but still don’t know for sure who will be the final 3 guests.
I met up with my new Twitter friend John Galantini (who does his own podcast which is worth listening to) at The Imperial, where we were soon joined by his fiancee Mary, as well as Sarah and a couple of her friends.
We headed to the venue and took our seats. Soon Richard was on stage to do his mainly improvised warm up. This was one of the best scriptless sets I’ve seen him do, even though he told us very early on that he was worried because Stephen Fry still hadn’t arrived. it was mainly good-natured audience banter with a pair of butlers, a nuclear physicist, and two odd lads who had taken their seats in Row B rather late. He spoke to “I Love London”, as he soon became known due to his hat, and this lad was desperate to be ignored. his coat was buttoned up, he had pulled his hat down, and of course this intrigued, and slightly worried Richard. His friend was a little more chatty but there was still something odd about his demeanour that Richard or the audience couldn’t put their fingers on. As Richard chatted to the physicist, pointing a handheld camera at him, demanding that he tell him how to make a nuclear bomb, a huge cheer erupted. Stephen was in the building! By the way, you can listen to this stand up set by searching on iTunes for RHLSTP or clicking this link here.
We took a short break where i paid my traditional visit to the Burger King toilets. Before I went I was chatting with a girl outside and we saw “I Love London” and his mate leave the venue, clearly with no intention of returning. This was both disappointing and a huge relief.
Stephen Fry has long been a hero of mine, and I have loved virtually everything he has done from when i first saw him (probably on Saturday Night Live, I’m not sure) through A Bit Of fry And Laurie, to QI and the various documentaries he has presented.
I’m not going to go into much detail about the content of the show. You can listen to the audio for free, or spend £3.50 and download the video from Go Faster Stripe, and I really recommend you do so. It’s such an astonishing interview in many ways.
Richard and Stephen had never met, and Rich seemed very nervous about meeting and chatting to his hero. However Stephen was as gracious, funny, warm and wordy as you would expect. We found out if Stephen had ever tried to suck his own cock, as well as if he would choose to have a ham-hand or an armpit that dispensed suncream. Stephen told us of his terror at performing at Sydney Opera House with no material whatsoever, and the irony of the show going so well that a second night was booked. Names were dropped, literary references abounded, and we got to hear a long discussion about 12th Night. Richard was getting more confident and challenged Stephen on the time-anomalies of his book “Making History” as well as dropping enormous hints about all the quite interesting facts he knows, which Stephen took in great fun,
Chris Evans (not that one) who runs Go Faster Stripe has a 12 year old son, and Richard decided to use some of his questions to ask Stephen. One was simply “What’s it like being Stephen Fry?” Fry thought about this and explained that it is generally a pleasant experience, as people tend to be nice to him, and he gets to travel so much and do things that he would never be able to do if he wasn’t Stephen Fry. Then candidly, and with totally brutal honesty tells us about the part of his life that is not so much fun. Stephen has been open for some time about his struggles with manic depression, and tonight his honesty and sincerity stunned the audience into complete attentive silence. There was a revelation that caused an audible gasp, and I think I will be thinking about this night for quite some time to come.
Kip Hakes, his mate Danny and I hung around with Richard’s web monkey Rob, and his wife Catie, hoping to get our picture taken with Stephen. We saw him briefly as he came out of the dressing room with Richard, but only had time for a brief chat with Catie and he was off into the night. I didn’t think it was appropriate to badger him for a photo.
Catie’s brother was also here, who I had drunkenly flirted with about a year ago. He asked for a cigarette and we went outside. I decided to deflect any awkwardness by apologising for my embarrassing actions last summer, but damn it! He didn’t remember. Now I’ve just created awkwardness where there was none. Anyway, after a short chat with Richard it was time to go.