Bit of Fry & Laurie, A: The Complete Collection . . Every Bit
If terms like "pimhole" and "lesbotic tendencies" reduce you to a fit of giggles, you've already discovered the daffy pleasures of Fry and Laurie. Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie have gone on to other successes in film and television (not only did they gain acclaim and adoration as the title characters of Jeeves & Wooster
, Laurie has become a household name in the U.S. as the star of House
), but their comedy collaborations from the 1980s and '90s have earned them a place in the pantheon of British humor, somewhere between Monty Python and Ricky Gervais. They specialize in "linguistic elasticity," amazing flights of verbal lunacy ranging from overwrought poetry criticism to inventing their own swearwords to protest censorship. A Bit of Fry & Laurie: The Complete Collection... Every Bit!
includes all four Fry & Laurie
seasons, broadcast between 1987 and 1995. Conservatism is a regular target--an early sketch about a father protesting his son being taught biology is startlingly current--but politics generally takes a back seat to ridiculousness. Fry impersonates Michael Jackson; a doctor prescribes cigarettes; an exceedingly gracious jewelry salesman woos a customer with candied sweets; Fry and Laurie, with righteous indignation, castigate their audience for laughing at serious matters like alcoholism and genital fungus. The fourth series isn't as inspired, overall, but it does feature sparkling moments, such as a version of It's a Wonderful Life
starring Rupert Murdoch. Armed with a startling array of false facial hair (and, as the seasons progress, an increasing amount of drag), Fry and Laurie introduce notions like screaming lettuce, a synchronized losing team, and the Omar Sharif Comedy Hour. It's divine silliness; any fan of British comedy will delight in "Every Bit" of Fry and Laurie. --Bret Fetzer