Stephen Fry Takes on America

I’m an occasional listener to Stephen Fry’s excellent podcasts, and reader of his blog. I’ve always admired Fry. He’s a Renaissance man–a consummate orator, a great essayist, a skilled actor and he’s got one of the largest functional vocabularies I’ve ever heard. He brings a joyful curiosity and wit to every project on which he works.

One recent project is Stephen Fry in America. It’s a six-part BBC series in which Fry visits every one of the US’s fifty states. All six parts were scheduled in one day over the Christmas break, and I recorded them all. They’re quite enjoyable–it’s always entertaining to see the familiar through a foreigner’s eyes. I’m also learning the odd fact about US geography and history. They’re lightweight fare, but they’re beautifully shot and Fry makes a charismatic host. Here’s a promo:

In writing this post, I was reminded of two other projects involving Stephen Fry. He hosts a very British game show called QI, which stands for ‘Quite Interesting’. To call it a game show is a bit generous, as it’s really just a framework for five funny people to be funny. Here’s an example:

Fry was also involved in Last Chance to See, following in the footsteps of Douglas Adams’s best book of the same name. He accompanies Mark Carwardine, Douglas’s co-author, to re-visit six critically endangered species around the globe. My favourite, by far, is the kakapo. Here’s an enormously funny moment from Fry and Carwardine’s encounter with one of these very odd birds:


  1. Also well worth a watch is his two part documentary “The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive”. Recommended.

  2. Oh my. I was laughing till the tears came when Mark was being whapped by the wings of that kakapo. Funny, too, I just read “Last Chance to See…” on my Kindle. I found it a surprisingly misanthropic book, even for Adams.

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