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As the title suggests, "A Bit of Fry and Laurie" is less of a specific format than a 'coat-hanger' for short sketches, starring the comical duo in various, recurring or unique roles: Stephen Fry, the sophisticated giant who usually plays the smug one, and comparatively small Hugh Laurie, usually playing the patsy.Written by
I liked Jeeves & Wooster a lot. But it wasn't until I saw BlackAdder that I truly became a fan of Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie. Over the years I have shifted more toward Laurie than Fry, with "House" completing that shift. (Okay, I'm a House fanatic.) But, living in the U.S., I had never been able to see ABOFAL (other than the occasional sketch posted to the internet). Fortunately, the first two series are now out on DVD. And I've just finished watching the first one.
These men are spectacular together. The acting is beyond reproach. But it is the writing that deserves special note. It is sharp, funny, sly, silly and merciless in skewering the pompous and the ordinary alike. But, above all, it never condescends. They assume the audience is a smart as they are.
I'm tempted to give an example, but so many of the sketches have hilarious twists at the end and I wouldn't want to ruin any of the punchlines for future viewers. But I can promise you at least two or three laugh-out-loud moments in every episode (even if you are watching all by yourself, as I was.)
I do have one quibble which kept me from giving ABOFAL a score of 10. The person who mixed the soundtrack on the DVDs should be taken out and tortured. Slowly. And painfully. There is a laugh track that is silent until they get to a punchline. Then it is dropped in, loudly enough to rattle the walls, frequently ruining the next line. And, in the final sketch in Series 1, the music actually drowns out the actors.
Edit - I have since learned that ABOFAL did not use laugh tracks. The laughter was from the studio audiences (and those tapes have since been used as laugh tracks on other shows.) So the problem was not that they added laughter too loudly, just that the DVDs had a sound mixer who did not comprehend that letting the at-home audience hearing the dialog is more important than proving that the studio audience enjoyed themselves at the taping.
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