There’s something satisfying in returning from a night out having not only laughed a great deal, but also learned something. A night with the self-proclaimed geeks who are the QI Elves, offers both of these in abundance. The four Elves we meet contrast and complement one another well, and while they may be ordinarily more heard than seen (through their writing and on their podcast No Such Thing As A Fish), on stage they’re watchable and visually entertaining. As in the TV show, there’s a casual, chatty and natural feel to the show and a real authenticity in the way the Elves warmly engage and involve the audience. This rapport, both within the group and with those watching them, combined with their clear enjoyment of their subject matter, makes it easy to get on board with them.
If audience members have never seen QI or heard the podcast, it really doesn’t matter; the formula for this show is simple and accessible. In the first half, each of the writers has slots in which they give presentations – Dan Schreiber opens proceedings, followed by James Harkin and Anna Ptaszynski, telling us about their facts that didn’t make it to TV and why. Perhaps the most ridiculous, yet utterly delightful segment of the evening, is Andrew Hunter Murray’s PowerPoint presentation on the finer details of a specific make of Casio watch. The incongruity of this dry topic and his ebullient enthusiasm provides much of the humour, along with clever observations, visual gags and fun audience interplay.
The second half of the show is a recording of the podcast, with the group around a table discussing their facts of the week like a bunch of intelligent and witty friends in a pub. This section provides particularly fascinating information, unfortunately slightly overshadowed by the fact that the show at this stage is running on considerably longer than advertised.
The podcast is good, but these Elves are even better seen live. Their offer of inoffensive, light entertainment is quirky and informative and while it could’ve benefited from a few cuts here and there, it’s a reliably enjoyable, very funny and quite unique night out.