"Saturday Night Fry" is the complete 6 part radio comedy sketch series from way back in 1988 (I know!). Despite nearly 30 years old, to me, it still sounds fresh, very funny and creative, which goes to show that quality has no "use by" date. It is "presented" by Fry, who also wrote most of it.
It is full of very clever, surreal and witty comedy ideas and characters, with Fry leading the very talented ensemble cast, which includes his long term collaborator Hugh Laurie, as well as guests Emma Thompson, Allison Steadman, Robert Bathurst and Jim Broadbent, who is probably better known for his more serious roles (and, of course for his towering performance as "the entire company", "Wallace", in the brilliant radio series "All the World's a Globe"(!)
I loved this show when it first ran on Radio 4 many moons ago.
Erudite, warm and surreal, it opened up my young mind to a new world of comedy. Stephen Fry is brilliant as the compere through this humour journey with Hugh Laurie and the rotating cast perfect foils. The most influential comedy programme on the development of my chuckle muscles, it still retains its bizarre charm.
Saturday Night Fry (BBC Audio) This is pure British cleverness, and it hasn't dated. I am entranced; I am personally a tiny bit more entertaining after having listened to this CD, and I am a dull sort. Fry and his colleagues are so witty and fast-paced that you need a few listens to get the best jokes. For some reason I am entranced by Hugh Laurie's "You've met your match, Jennifer Flammisto!" I can't recommend it highly enough; it's a P.G. Wodehouse level of wit, all brought to your CD player for an at-home cleverness injection. I wouldn't like anyone who didn't like this. So you can give it to all your friends and make them love you even more.
Probably one of the most underrated of Stephen Fry's comedic creations, this imaginative little series aired on Radio 4 over six consecutive Saturdays in 1988 (30th April thru 4th June). It was the epoch of experimental comedy. Script writers were "moving on" from the Two Ronnies / Monty Python era when audiences still laughed at nonsense for nonsense sake (eg. the Ministry of Silly Walks). And yet 1988 was in the decade before the really clever satire of Rory Bremner, The Now Show, etc.
Fry and his friends (Robert Bathurst, Jim Broadbent, Barry Cryer, Julia Hills, Hugh Laurie, Phyllida Law, Alison Steadman & Emma Thompson) serve up six highly entertaining episodes of fun-filled frolics. Emma Thompson plays an author who assures Fry that "every penny of the proceeds of this book", while Hugh Laurie boasts that he has "worked in both television". Some of the characters have rather eccentric names such as "Tumphrey Puke", "Elvin Arsecloth" and "Clefdene Straightbladder", but this kind of humour can be an acquired taste. There's an hilarious parody of a linguaphone course teaching the 'Strom' language, Laurie orders lunch in fluent Welsh and Fry's version of the Shipping Forecast is an all-time classic ("come home, veering suggestively"). The edition that aired on 21st May 1988 is "the very fourth episode", so for nostalgia the team are all wearing April 1988 fashions! But my favourite is Episode 6, in which they visit the gates of Hades and Laurie tells a frog joke that's so dangerously funny it triggers loud guffaws of laughter from his co-presenters.
At various times throughout the series the presenters slap & kick one another in the studio, which is slightly weird. Fry himself probably imitates Nicholas Parsons a little too frequently with the Just-a-Minute intro "and as the music fades away..." but then we all have our hobby horses. In any case it proves a useful segue to the next sketch! The only real blemish is the gut-scorchingly hideous signature tune by Louis Jordan, which can completely ruin your listening experience. So it's well worth buying 3 blank CDs and splicing it out.
Note also that the series is now available on a special BBC oven glove!
In my opinion, this is one of the funniest series that has ever been on the radio. I caught the last few episodes when it was originally on Radio 4 in 1988. BBC 7 then ran the series and I was finally able to hear the early episodes, including the pilot. It is well overdue, but fantastic nevertheless, that the BBC have finally got around to releasing it on CD. Much of the humour is based around clever word-play, and it might not appeal to everyone, but if you're a fan of the later Fry & Laurie stuff you should not be dissappointed.
Unlike the also recently released "Fry's English Delight", this is a CD set that all Stephen Fry fans should consider absolutely essential to own. "A Bit of Fry and Laurie" aficianados will enjoy this "audio" precursor as much as the "video" sequels.