John Lloyd: Liff of QI

Underbelly, Bristo Square

From 31 July 2013 to 24 August 2013

Rating: ***

Review by David Chadderton

The title of John Lloyd's show comes from a couple of different sources: The Meaning of Liff, a book he co-wrote with the great Douglas Adams creating words for things that do not currently have words for them at the moment from place names, and popular TV panel show QI, which he produces.

However he has been involved in the creation of many popular programmes on TV and radio from the past few decades, including Spitting Image, Not the 9 O'Clock News, Blackadder, The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy and The News Quiz.

This show is basically a series of anecdotes from his impressive career, but the way it is put together is quite clever. He begins with some of the hilarious definitions from the new Liff installment After Liff, co-written with Jon Canter, and uses association to jump between subjects just like in QI, flipping through some Quite Interesting facts on the way.

After learning a few facts about science, we hear about how the cast of The Mousetrap in London liven up Wednesday matinées with a game of "pass the Brussel's sprout"—and what happened when Mel Smith went specially to try to catch them out—how one-upmanship between performers led directly to the lengthy comic lines that became a trademark of Blackadder and how he had to defend every line in the script for Spitting Image at a weekly meeting with the IBA.

It is just a string of anecdotes, but the clever construction of the script and the skilful delivery make this much funnier than most—and you may learn something Quite Interesting in the process.