No Such Thing as a Fish is a podcast by the QI elves. If you’re not family with QI, it’s a panel show/quiz hosted by Steven Fry in which people have to answer almost impossibly difficult questions. The point isn’t to get the question right as much as it is to spark discussion, share jokes and other interesting facts, and eventually find out what the answer is after Fry gives up and tells them.
Points are gained for answering the question correctly, or occasionally for coming up with an even more interesting fact. Points are deducted for giving obvious answers which are actually wrong. For example, if the question was “How many spiders does the average person eat per year” and Alan Davis (it’s always Alan Davis) said “Seven!” He would lose ten points because, although everyone thinks that that’s true, it’s actually nonsense.
Now, although Fry knows a fair few facts, he has support from the QI elves, the staff behind the scenes who spend their days looking for the most fascinating bits of information they can find. After the success of the series several books were released and the podcast got started. It’s hosted by Dan Schreiber with James Harkin, Andrew Hunter Murray and Anna Ptaszynski, with occasional other guests popping up. They release an episode once a week.
I’m a fan. I don’t get much time for listening to podcasts, P is the podcast lover in our home, but I do have a few favourites for when I do have time and this is one of them. It’s fast paced, witty and very entertaining as well as being full of fascinating facts. As a massive nerd, I find this a hard combination to beat.
When they announced a tour which included dates in Glasgow I was very tempted to try to get tickets. In the end, P got me them for my birthday, way back in January. Still, by the time he got them on 19th January, one of the two dates at the end of March had already sold out. The second one sold out not long afterwards. This is a popular show.
The event was held in the Oran Mor in Glasgow as part of the Glasgow Comedy Festival. The Oran Mor is a huge old building, built in 1862 and originally functioning as a church. Now it’s a large pub, specialising in whisky and Scottish food, with very posh function rooms downstairs and a theatre/music venue downstairs. If you find yourself in Glasgow, go and visit it but if you plan to live in Glasgow, know that the pub is best for showing off to tourists, and there are better, less expensive whisky bars nearby. On the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with the theatre and I definitely encourage you to visit for their A Play, a Pie and a Pint events.
Anyway. The show was divided into two halves. The first half told us a bit about the podcast and the podcasters, alongside a whole bunch of interesting facts. The second half was recorded and took the standard form that the podcasts take. Generally, the four podcasters email each other facts across the week. When they find one they want to use the go away and research more about it, but they don’t tell each other what they discover. They then discuss the facts and everything else they found out when the sit down to record.
It was hilarious from start to finish. I think they’ll be back in Scotland for The Fringe Festival and if I hadn’t seen them so recently I’d be tempted to see them again. I definitely encourage people to get tickets.
My favourite facts from the night? No spoilers for the recorded show, I promise:
- In 1895 the only two cars in Ohio crashed into each other
- Last year, Glasgow was voted both Friendliest City in the UK and Murder Capital of Europe
- In the chase scene in The Great Escape, Steve McQueen not only plays his main character, but also that of one of the Nazis chasing him
When the podcast I was in the audience for appears on Soundcloud I’ll link to it here. You can also find it on iTunes if you’re that way inclined.
[Edit: Here’s the link I promised: No Such Thing as a Fish, Oran Mor Glasgow]