Sandi Toksvig looks at nonsense with Holly Walsh, Nish Kumar, Phill Jupitus and Alan Davies.
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Welcome to QI, where tonight's show is frankly a lot of nonsense.
Not helped by stultiloquent poppycock from Holly Walsh.
Nagmentory codswallop from Nish Kumar.
Fribbling gibberish from Phill Jupitus.
And the Alan Davies from Essex.
And their buzzers sound like nonsense too. Holly goes...
'The trouble with kittens is that...'
'While they're sat on the mat, they get fat...'
And Phill goes...
'They grow and they grow, and the next thing you know...'
And Alan goes...
'Your kitten's a boring old cat.'
So, your first task tonight is to say something
completely nonsensical, that sounds profound.
That's what I would like.
Nish, have you got any thoughts?
I always find that when people say, "I make my own luck,"
-I think that is the biggest load of nonsense.
-Because, if you make it, that's not luck.
-That's not how luck works.
Phill, have you got a profound sentiment for me?
It's the centenary this year of the establishment of the Dada art group,
set up at Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich.
Richard Huelsenbeck was a Dada artist
and he wrote a long poem called Fantastic Prayers.
And a couple of sections from it are...
"The ox runs down the circulum
"Voila, here are the engineers with their assignment
"Light minds to throw in a still-crude state.
-Is it part poem, part weather report?
Whenever you say anything nonsense like that, I always think...
-..falling slightly at the end of it.
It just becomes shipping forecast to me.
What about you, Alan?
Well, I like things that sound like proverbs.
And the important thing about them is that they are always reversible.
So I've come up with a couple.
You can change your mind, but you can't change your brain.
-That's so crazy.
The alternative is, you can't change your brain,
but you can change your mind.
Wow, that's the sort of thing a teacher would say to you
-and nod as if it meant something.
-It means bugger all.
Another one is, you can't jump without landing.
Equally, you can't land without jumping.
I just need time to think about that.
This is the sort of thing we should definitely be smoking weed
and listening to.
Like, you would be a weed guru with this stuff.
You could say things like, a dry man is not swimming.
That's so messed up, man!
A swimming man is never dry.
There's a geezer with a sticker factory in Kettering now
who is writing all these down.
"This is gold!"
Have you got any profound thoughts for me?
Well, I just like, when you're standing on a train platform
and they go, "Any unattended items will be destroyed without warning."
And I'm always like...
-that IS a warning.
-It makes no sense to me.
-Does that include a child?
Is a child an item?
I bet you'd sell a lot of children's T-shirts if it just said,
"I am not an unattended item."
"Do not destroy."
There's a fantastic website called the New Age Bullshit Generator.
What it does, it takes buzzwords from New Age tweets
and it combines them to create syntactically correct,
profound-sounding nonsense, such as,
"Hidden meaning transforms unparalleled abstract beauty."
That's a Coldplay B-side, isn't it?
"The infinite is calling to us via superpositions of possibilities."
These all just sound like Morrissey lyrics.
# The infinite is calling to us. #
I really like them.
"Perceptual reality transcends subtle truth."
I think we've all felt like that at some point.
"Consciousness is the growth of coherence, and of us."
So, here's the thing - Canadian researchers asked subjects
to rate the various sentences I have been reading out
on a scale of one to five, OK?
The statements received an average score of 2.6 - "somewhat profound".
And the researchers concluded,
"These results indicate that our participants largely failed
"to detect the statements are bullshit."
Yeah, and also, they are just trying to put a number in the middle,
-so they can't be wrong.
-Yeah, it's got to be in here somewhere.
"How many out of five?" "Er, three.
"Don't ask me anything else."
It's like multiple-choice at your O Levels, isn't it?
C, C, C, C,
B for change,
All sorts of sentences that people found profound, like,
"Most people enjoy some sort of music."
There's lots of nonsense out there, particularly on the internet.
In 2014, the German scientific publisher Springer
and also the American Institute Of Electrical And Electronic Engineers
had to remove more than 120 papers from their website
because they discovered they were computer-generated nonsense.
Have you ever seen those computer-generated novels?
So, they did Moby Dick, with the words swapped for meows of the same length,
so, "Call me Ishmael," is, "Meow me Meeeeoow."
They did another one, it's a novel made of unconnected excerpts
from online databases of teenage girls' accounts of their dreams.
But it's not just computers that can generate rubbish
or things you don't understand,
so the Delphic Oracle was proverbial for its ambiguous...
Wow, she's got weird legs.
That's a skill, isn't it, to hover on stilts like that? Fantastic.
-That's the sort of thing you'd see in Covent Gardens.
But usually they have a Yoda costume over the top.
I'm quite alarmed because all of those men sort of look like me.
Oh, yeah! There is a look.
Blue WKD had a different sort of packaging in those days.
So, lots of ambiguous one-liners. Croesus, who was King of Lydia,
he asked for advice on whether he should attack Persia and was told,
"If you cross the river, a great empire will be destroyed,"
and he thought, "Fantastic, she thinks I should do this!"
Of course, the great empire was his own that was destroyed.
And there is another piece of advice that was given.
"You will go, you will return, never in war will you perish."
So it's one of those things that it depends how you punctuate it.
"You will go, you will return, never in war will you perish,"
or, "You will go, you will return never, in war will you perish."
And she never gave out the punctuation,
so it's impossible to tell.
-Lynne Truss would go mental if she saw the Delphic Oracle.
Many people can't tell profound truth from complete nonsense,
but then again, as a wise man once said,
no leg's too short to reach the ground.
Talking of legs of different lengths, why is netball nonsense?
-It's just the worst sport ever.
-Oh, my goodness, yes.
I think you and I could do an hour on this.
It should be banned, because it's not fair, it's a load of crap,
it favours tall people, who already do better at school discos,
getting off with boys anyway, and the whole thing is not fair.
-It's just not fair!
-Wow, Holly, we've really opened some old wounds.
They have a thing in netball called a chest pass, right?
And I used to get them in the face.
Did you used to have one of those bibs with SG on it?
For "short girl"?
But they put you against somebody, some girl, six foot tall,
who's going to mark you, and she just
-stands there for the whole time like this.
-Just doing that.
This is what she does, she does this. For, like, 40 minutes.
That. And that's it, that's all you can do. It's so galling.
One of the great puzzles of netball,
apart from why anybody would want to play it,
is that it has tremendous restriction on movement.
So, why would you want to restrict players
to certain areas of the court?
Isn't it just to avoid contact?
-Cos it's a very small court?
No, it's due to a misunderstanding.
So, what happened, the men's game, basketball,
invented by a man called James Naismith in 1891,
and there was a PE teacher called Clara Bear of New Orleans,
and she asked if he would send a copy of the rules.
So, he sent the rules and it contained a drawing of the court
with lines pencilled across it showing the area that various players
could best patrol, and she misinterpreted this to mean
that players couldn't leave those areas.
She then wrote that into her version.
Then it got worse. In 1983, a gym teacher in Massachusetts
called Senda Berenson modified it further,
because she thought it was unseemly for young women.
She wrote an essay about it
and she wrote, "Unless a game as exciting as basketball
"is carefully guided by such rules as will eliminate roughness,
"the great desire to win and the excitement of the game
"will make our women do sadly unwomanly things."
So she made them all miserable as they are in that picture.
So, she banned tackling and she instituted
the three-second time limit for holding the ball
and basically didn't think people should run backwards and forwards
because the girls' hearts
would become what she called hypertrophic if they ran too far.
Rounders was always the best of all sports.
Yeah, I liked rounders.
I was dreadful at all sports.
I was the first kid in my school to be put into remedial rugby.
They gave me a round ball, because they were like,
"This kid's going to have his eye out on the points."
At school we had three divisions for swimming.
We had A, B and C, and I was in F.
-Do you like kabaddi?
-Do I like kabaddi?!
I don't like it, I LOVE kabaddi.
Kabaddi is an Indian sport. If you don't know what it is,
it's like somebody looked at a game of rugby and thought,
you know what the problem with this is? The ball.
We just get rid of that. And it's also the only game
where the players stand there and just go,
"Kabaddi, kabaddi, kabaddi, kabaddi, kabaddi, kabaddi."
Is that it? Is that the whole thing?
What you have to do, one man will be sent out by one team
and he's got to try to touch the end zone. And the other team,
they're usually linking up and they've got to try to touch him,
but if he touches them, that's basically it.
-Is it British Bulldog?
It's sort of like British Bulldog and tag.
It's very much kabaddi, OK?
I won't have this imperialist conquest of our sports!
"Is that British Bulldog?" No, it's very much Indian kabaddi!
You may take our Koh-I-Noor diamond, but you'll never take our kabaddi!
-It sounds like a good game,
but it sounds like what it needs is kissing.
It's the only sport where, during the sport,
you just say the name of the sport.
It would be like a footballer kicking the ball
and just going, "Football."
-Do people get injured in it, do you get injured?
-Is it rough?
I think it's one of those sports that LOOKS pretty rough.
The other thing that's weird about it
is they're sort of all in kind of loincloths.
Oh, wow! Now we're talking!
If you tuned in, you would think
you were watching a particularly strange piece of all-male erotica.
-Well, I was watching on YouTube yesterday...
..this Turkish sport where they all get oiled up -
this is genuinely true - and they wear leather trousers
and they wrestle each other and the competition is
to get their hands down the front of the trousers,
like that's how you win the points.
That's not a sport!
Is it possible the subtitles were less than correct?
Well, it was being done in this big field
and there were loads of people watching and elderly gentlemen
that you wouldn't imagine would be into that sort of thing
and they were... These younger men were doing it and they were...
It was really serious.
-You were on YouTube, watching Turkish dogging!
I'm not joking, I'm so serious.
I'm wondering if some of these Turkish rules
couldn't be introduced to kabaddi. How fantastic!
We should have a QI kabaddi team.
Would it be us versus other panel shows?
Oh, that's a very interesting idea.
I wouldn't want to go up against
the Have I Got News For You kabaddi team.
I reckon Hislop's got moves.
I think Pointless kabaddi. Me against Richard Osman.
We finally have the sport that television needs, that's what I think.
Celebrity Death Match Kabaddi.
-I can see it.
-Write this down!
Fantastic. We've invented a new sport,
it was well worth the whole thing.
From nonsense to neuroscience.
What's the worst noise in the world?
'Do you know...?'
-I believe I've mentioned it before tonight.
That would be Coldplay B-sides.
LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE
Not everyone applauding. Quite a lot of people going,
"I LIKE Coldplay B-sides."
So, we have some props. You can make some noises.
-Let's have a look.
So, let's start with Nish and Alan.
That's very irritating, isn't it?
Oh, God. All right, stop it.
Do you remember what that is, Nish?
-This is a vuvuzela.
-It is a vuvuzela, yes.
Which ruined the 2010 World Cup.
It's a hideous noise, isn't it?
Luckily I have grade seven in vuvuzela, so we're fine.
SHRILL SCRATCHING Oh, Alan, Alan.
Fingers on a chalkboard!
That is awful.
A RECORDER IS PLAYED TUNELESSLY
We've got a band going, don't stop!
I've got a mirror and this cube of white stuff...
Is the most annoying sound in the world me on drugs?
I think...this is polystyrene.
The Journal of Neuroscience did the top-10 most annoying sounds.
Apparently the most annoying is a knife on a bottle,
but we haven't been able to work out why that is.
This one we can do. This is number two.
# I got the power! #
-FORK SCRAPING ON PLATE
-Ugh, stop, stop, stop.
That's very unpleasant, isn't it?
The worst sound, I think, is Stan Collymore on talkSPORT.
There's going to be a long list of people who hate you now!
-I've got... This is the old...
SMOKE ALARM BEEPS
What is worse than this, is when it just goes...
And four minutes later goes...
And you can't work out which one it is. It's somewhere in the house.
The thing I love about any sort of smoke alarm is that
we've advanced so far technologically,
and yet we still haven't got beyond the only way to solve a smoke alarm
is to have a tea towel and just do this underneath it.
I was in a hotel once, and I was...a bit pissed,
and I fell asleep on the bed in my clothes.
And then I was woken up by this terrible noise in the room
and I thought, "What is that?" This, "Whee-whee-whee!"
And there was this thing on the ceiling
and I started hitting it with my shoe, as hard as I could,
and then it fell off the ceiling and it was dangling by a wire.
And then I rang reception and said,
"There's a thing in my room making a terrible noise."
And they said, "That's the fire alarm, sir, will you please evacuate."
And I said, "Oh, just so you know, when it went off,
"it kind of fell from the ceiling."
Then I went out on the street and I was the only person in clothes.
So I can possibly top all the noises that we have had so far.
Has anybody ever seen these being played?
Yes, it's an extraordinary noise, but here's the thing,
1761, Benjamin Franklin was visiting in Cambridge, in England,
and he saw the glasses being played and he thought,
"I can improve on this."
And he developed something called a glass armonica.
It's 37 bowls and they are mounted horizontally on an iron spindle,
and they're turned by means of a foot pedal
and the sound is then produced by touching the rims.
There it is. It is the most extraordinary noise.
They're painted different colours, according to the pitch of the notes.
Franklin used to play this at dinner parties,
and it really took off, and thousands were built.
There was a factory employing over 100 people making glass armonicas.
Lots of the performers were women.
There was a woman, Marianne Davies, and she toured all over Europe.
She taught Marie Antoinette to play the glass armonica.
-There she is.
-"Here we see Marie Antoinette pleasuring an armadillo."
That's one of the worst sounds in the world,
Marie Antoinette pleasuring an armadillo.
"I'll get a tune out of this armadillo, you just watch me."
I have important things to tell you about the glass armonica.
Crack on, girl, crack on.
No, I want to know about pleasuring an armadillo.
My brain's gone off in the wrong direction.
So, anyway, it got a very bad reputation,
because it was thought at first it had a sort of soothing effect
and then eventually people thought it drove you mad to listen to it
and that it would even summon the dead.
And people who played it said they got mental anguish
from the vibrations.
In fact, the chances are they were getting lead poisoning
because the lead was leaching out of the glass and into their system.
Do they revive them and get them out for the Proms
or anything like that?
The only time I ever heard one played
is outside Paul Revere's house in Boston.
There's a woman who plays and you give her money to stop.
How have we had this whole conversation
and no-one has mentioned bagpipes?
Yes, what do you think, are you in favour...?
-I'm against bagpipes.
What it was for me, I stayed at the Edinburgh Festival one year
and made the mistake of staying in a hotel on Princes Street
and there's a guy with a bagpipe comes out, 10am,
kicks off outside the Waverley Shopping Centre.
I was going to hire a sniper.
You were inside your hotel trying to hit the fire alarm.
But the weird thing is, if you are the other side of the hotel,
you've got the bloke with the panpipes.
-Oh, I love those!
The panpipe bloke, where did he come from? What's he doing in Scotland?!
I like the panpipes, except,
when you go up to the panpipers and you buy one of their tapes,
they're playing things like Greensleeves and that kind of thing.
You don't want that, you want traditional Peruvian...
Hits by John Williams, that kind of thing, yeah.
Do you think they have to pay rights to...Henry VIII or whatever?
I didn't think that through, but...
Have you ever tried saying to buskers,
"How much do you make an hour?" They say, "Oh, about £25."
You go, "Here's 26, now, just for an hour, ssh!"
Now, make of this nonsensical question what you will.
Who blows their nose for something to eat?
There might be some good bacteria in your mucus.
That's what I was told about children,
doing that does actually help their immune system,
-to consume their bogeys.
Was that one of your children that told you that?
"It's very good for me, actually."
There is a conflict of interest there.
Is it an anteater?
Is it an anteater?!
Well, they suck up ants through their noses, don't they?
Yes, but we are actually looking for something that blows its nose.
Blows its nose.
Are you trying to psyche me out so I tell you?
-I'm trying, I'm trying.
-OK, it's a worm! You did it.
Worms haven't got noses, they've got spiracles!
Oh, well, here's the extraordinary thing.
Have a look at this.
Prepare yourselves for this bit of footage.
Make it stop!
It's called a nemertea, or a ribbon worm,
and it literally blows its nose.
So it explosively injects its proboscis from its body
in search of food.
They are also known as proboscis worms.
-Is that snot, then?
-No, it's its nose.
When they detect food or prey, the muscle contractions of the body wall
forces the proboscis, literally its nose,
out of the body and turns it inside-out, like a rubber glove.
-OK. And the one that's shown here is a gorgon worm,
and it's got these branching, spaghetti-like tentacles
on its proboscis which then envelops the prey
with a sticky toxin and draws it back into the body.
Are you telling me that it ate that bloke?
-Let's have another look. Let's have one more look.
-No, let's not!
-It's amazing, isn't it?
It's like those people on YouTube
who watch people squeezing spots and stuff like that.
I mean, what is wrong with people?!
What is wrong with your YouTube search history?!
Turkish dogging, spot squeezing... Add this to the list -
freaky worm eating a bloke.
Wow, Holly, thank God we had you on the show
so you could take a break from these things!
What is that? What is that?
Well, OK, here's the thing that will upset you.
Oh, THIS will upset me!
They can regenerate lost body parts,
so any nemertean are able to do that,
but there is one species, and this is it,
the ramphogordius sanguineus, and it is exceptional.
Any body part that is severed,
apart from maybe the tip of the tail where there aren't any nerves,
can regrow into a new worm,
so you could take a worm that is only 15 centimetres long
and it is claimed that more than 200,000 worms could result
from that one tiny, little worm.
That's extraordinary, isn't it?
Isn't that unbelievable?
The most common nemertean around the UK is called the bootlace worm.
It can grow to ENORMOUS lengths.
There was one that washed ashore in St Andrews in Scotland in 1864
that was said to be 180 feet long,
which makes it arguably the longest of all animals.
Extraordinary, aren't they?
And now a question from a master of nonsense, Mr Lewis Carroll.
Which is more useful, a clock which is right twice a day,
or a clock which is right once every two years?
Wow. Now, is it going to be
that all clocks are right once every two years
and the clock that has stopped is right twice a day, so it's the...
it's the first one?
Which was the first, sorry? LAUGHTER
-If you promise not to show me the worm...
I'll say anything you want.
I think that clocks are never quite right,
but every two years they are right.
That's one of those bullshit statements, isn't it?
If it's the two-year one,
is it like losing a second every hour or something like that,
so therefore you can kind of ballpark what time it is.
You're exactly right. So, the idea that the clock
that's right twice a day - yes, Alan, well done -
it has, of course, stopped, it can't tell us anything about the time,
-so you'd have no idea when it was right.
But a clock that's right once every two years,
that's a clock that loses a minute a day,
but you could tell the time from it if you knew how slow it was
and it was a question that Lewis Carroll wrote about
in a wonderful miscellany that he wrote called The Rectory Umbrella
and it's one of the things that he was most passionate about.
If you think about Alice In Wonderland,
the rabbit has a watch and talks about being late,
there's a sense about time in a lot of his writing,
he was slightly obsessed with it.
Now, if we are talking about telling time,
I want you to have a look at this.
-So, this box, it contains... PHILL:
It's got a worm in it.
It's got no dial, it's got...
You can see, it's got no obvious way of telling the time,
but it will tell you the time.
Any thoughts as to how you might do it?
-What's the time?
You don't need to take it outdoors?
-You don't need to take it outdoors, you don't...
-Do you knock on it?
You do. It was designed at the Copenhagen Institute Of Design.
One of the things I'm putting in the show are random Scandinavian facts.
This is today's Randi Scandi.
So, if you have a listen,
I will knock on it to ask the time
and it will knock back what the time is.
NINE RHYTHMIC KNOCKS, PAUSE
PHILL IMPERSONATES COUNTDOWN CLOCK, TWO RHYTHMIC KNOCKS
So it did nine and then ten minute increments,
so it's 20 minutes past.
This was in fact built for us by Paul Plowman who is here.
Where is Paul? Let's give him a round of applause. There we are.
I want one of those. I think that's absolutely fantastic.
A clock that runs behind is better than one that doesn't work at all.
Now, name a nonsense museum.
-The Leicester Gas Museum?
-Is there a gas museum?
-I want to go.
I went there, it was amazing,
and the guy who runs it is a James Bond lookalike.
But he asked us to guess who he was a lookalike of
-and we didn't get it, so I'm not sure how successful he is.
-That's not so good.
Does he look like a specific James Bond?
He looks like the Scottish guy.
Is it unlucky to mention him?
-"You're not allowed to say..."
-The Scottish Bond!
"..The Scottish James Bond."
And because we were so enthusiastic,
he gave us some British Gas tracksuits from 1988.
Is he supposed to give away the exhibits? That doesn't seem right.
My favourite, there's a Pencil Museum in Cumbria.
Keswick. It's got the world's biggest pencil, which is massive.
You go and they show you how they make pencils,
they show you how pencils were invented,
you can have a pencil with your name on it.
It's like the best museum in the world.
Until I went to McLean in Texas,
where they have the Barbed Wire Museum.
-How do you get in?
Barbed wire is the thing that changed
the entire face of America, because that thing that we think about,
the Wild West, was only about a 20-year period of history
because barbed wire came in and it was impossible
to drive cattle across the country, so it's hugely important.
-But it is an extraordinary museum.
-Oh, yeah, yeah. It's great.
-"That piece of barbed wire there,
"that's over 200 year old."
The best museum I've ever been to is the Margaret Mitchell Museum,
which is in Atlanta, Georgia. Margaret Mitchell, of course,
wrote Gone With The Wind and there was a big picture
behind the woman selling the tickets and it was of a massive fire.
I said, "Oh, what's the picture for?"
She said, "Well, unfortunately, 1982, the museum burned down."
I said, "Oh, that's a shame. You rebuilt it?"
She said, "Yes, we rebuilt it.
"Then, unfortunately, four years later,
"darned thing burned down again."
And the result is they have nothing
that ever belonged to Margaret Mitchell.
So you get shown around and they say, "This chair here is very like..."
Everything is "very like".
The Titanic Museum in Belfast, they've got a reproduction
of the central staircase in the main atrium on the Titanic
and the thing is, you're not allowed to see the staircase,
it's in a shut-off bit and you go, "Where's the staircase?"
They go, "That's upstairs and you can only go if you have Sunday tea."
-Seriously? You can't...?
-I go, "It's Wednesday!"
"Come back Sunday...
"and have tea!
"Then you can see the stairs!
"They've got carpet on them!"
Then you go in the museum and you think,
"Oh, there's going to be all manner of Titanic knick-knacks."
They've got one letter.
One letter, written by a doctor that was actually on the Titanic.
A letter. One...
It's a Titanic MUSEUM!
Yeah, but I liked it because of all the things
-about how many rivets there were.
I was once on one of those tours around Manhattan
and we went under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge
and the guy said, "This bridge is enormous," he said how many rivets it had.
He said, "If you took all the pieces it took to make this bridge
"and you laid them end to end,
"the bridge would fall down."
Anyway, there is actually a Nonsense Museum.
The Nonseum in Herrnbaumgarten in Austria.
It was founded in 1994 and it houses a collection of absurdist items.
So it has things like the selfie rifle.
One previous owner.
This crockery set, I think, is a very useful thing.
This is divorce crockery.
And these are keyhole-shaped spectacles for voyeurs.
And the next one is something I absolutely would like to have.
This is a biological lawnmower.
That's not a real sheep!
But there's also some very good stuff.
The US Patent Office is a tremendous place to look for nonsensical items.
For example, the Behringer vacuum cleaner, this is a depressing thing.
It's from before the time of the electric vacuum cleaner.
Basically, the man's had a busy day and he comes home
and he sits in his rocking chair, reads the paper, smokes a pipe,
and he rocks, and the action of rocking enables the woman,
quite rightly, to do the hoovering.
What happens in figures 1-11?
Is that where the dust goes down?
I think 13 is where she throttles him with that long hose.
The worst example of these is the centrifugal birthing machine.
So this was invented in the 1960s by George and Charlotte Blonsky,
who I can only imagine did not actually have children.
So, women were strapped to it and rotated
at a speed dictated by the doctor.
And when it was delivered, the baby landed in a net...
..which triggered the machine to stop.
I love the idea that all other midwives were like,
"Kabaddi, kabaddi, kabaddi..."
That would be awesome. What a way to come out.
Something that would be like that would be a birthing trebuchet.
So you're labouring away
and then they strap you to a catapult, but then, bang!
It's like getting ketchup out the bottom of the...thing.
Just the force of the boom. They'd be, "Whoa!"
You've forgotten the cord, Phill.
That baby's coming back.
Anyway, moving on...
The other invention that I like is the pedestrian catcher.
When they first got trams in Los Angeles,
they were very worried that it was going to hit some pedestrians
and on old-fashioned American trains
there used to be a thing called a cow catcher
and they wanted something rather similar,
but they didn't want to knock people out of the way,
so they put a long, thin, upholstered sofa across the front of the tram.
The idea was that it would comfortably catch you.
Just carry on.
What they really should have is a bouncy castle on the front...
-..of every vehicle.
Do you know what they call a bouncy castle in America?
-A bounce house.
Yeah, we call it a bouncy castle.
-I think that says so much about our regard for history.
In America, there are three places called Fort Nonsense
but only one called Nowhere.
What's the official name for the middle of nowhere?
There is a place in the world that is the middle of nowhere.
AUDIENCE MEMBER GROANS
I'm from Croydon, so I can say that, OK?
It's the centre of the least-populated bit?
You're absolutely in the right area.
So where would you find the least number of people?
Not necessarily on the land, maybe?
It's a part of the Pacific.
It is as far from land as it is possible to get on the Earth
and it's called Point Nemo.
It is 1,700 miles from any coast.
Named, of course, after the submarine captain
in 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea.
-And there's a Starbucks there, right?
-Yeah, there's a Starbucks.
Nemo, Latin rendering of the ancient Greek Outis, meaning "nobody".
It's also known as the oceanic pole of inaccessibility.
And here is the extraordinary thing -
you'd think there's nothing there, but it is a spacecraft graveyard.
There are more than 160 spacecraft littering the ocean floor there.
I have to say, they're mostly Russian.
So here's the thing - it's much cheaper to allow
the orbit to decay naturally than to push it out into space.
But when they know they're going to do this to a spacecraft
they have to see if there are any sailors in the area
and ring them or contact them by radio and make sure that they know.
And if you pass Point Nemo at the right time of day
you'll be closer to the astronauts on the space station,
250 miles away, than to any other human being on Earth.
Isn't that extraordinary?
And now it's time for the most nonsensical bit of all,
general ignorance. Fingers on buzzers, please.
More than 1,000 stone examples of what are found on Easter Island?
There are giant heads, they're called Moai.
There's 887 of them,
but it isn't the thing that there's more than 1,000 of.
There are more than 1,000 - 1,233, in fact -
chicken stone houses.
There they are. And here's the extraordinary thing -
there are no trees on Easter Island.
I thought you were going to say there were no chickens!
No chickens, they live in hope!
The chief came out and said, "We must build houses for the chickens.
"When the chickens come..."
But the chickens, they never came.
"What shall we put in the chicken houses?"
"Wait for the chickens!"
"Make some heads. Make some heads!"
Just one empty Nando's on the outer island.
No, there are chickens, it's their main source of food,
but there are no trees at all on Easter Island.
There used to be, thousands of them.
So, what are you going to do to protect your chickens?
And what you did was, you built a house like this,
with a single, small entrance that you could close up
with a suitable, flush-fitting stone,
and your neighbour would be unable to find the entrance.
I think I've lived in London for too long,
because I'm looking at that, thinking, "Looks all right."
600 a month? Yes, please.
Let's have a look at the heads. What's missing from this picture?
Well, weirdly enough they used to have a sort of topknot,
a red topknot. So huge kind of headpieces.
We don't know why or indeed how they got them up there,
-but something else is missing.
-The rest of his body is underground.
The body. Absolutely right. People used to think that
they were only heads but, in fact, they have bodies as well.
And the other thing they used to have, they used to have eyes.
Extraordinary eyes that were detachable.
They were made of coral and they were inserted for special occasions.
Like my nan.
Stick her eye in for a special occasion?
"I'll pop me coral eyes in."
The volcano where the stones come from, Rano Raraku,
which is where they were carved...
The only volcano named by Scooby-Doo.
-"What volcano are we going to, Scoob?"
We now think that it was a sacred site
and all the statues fan out from the volcano,
so it's not the workplace, it's the actual sacred site.
Lads, lads, lads, beautiful sunset.
Lads! Behind you!
It does look like an ancient stone carving of a stag do.
And the one with the brick on his head, he was the stag.
Anyway, how many Rex Britanniae have been called Alan?
One is the absolutely right answer.
Well done. It means "King of Brittany".
And there's been one. He was called Alan the Great.
The Great Alan, he was a lovely man.
He was given the title by the Emperor Charles the Fat.
Yeah, he was around 876, until his death in 907.
By the time he died, there was another Emperor, Charles the Simple.
When did they switch to the number system for naming the Charleses?
When you had to have Hotmail addresses.
Yeah, that's true.
Alan's main adversary,
you have to say it very carefully, because it's called F-U-L-K.
What do you think, Falk? Foolk?
-Fulk of Angou?
I don't fulking know.
What's that's depicting?
Well, after Alan died, Brittany was overrun by Vikings
and they were in turn driven out by Alan's grandson who was Alan II,
but he wasn't a king so he doesn't count as a Rex.
What you can see in this picture is Alan the Simple,
who's trying to hit a fire alarm.
-Just to the right, off shot.
-Got his shoe off.
Just a sandal.
Brittany was the original Little Britain, as opposed to Great Britain.
That's absolutely right and lots of the names that we have now
-come from there, cos of after the Normans' names.
David, Robert, Alan, all our names are French,
we're just saying them wrong.
-We just... Yeah.
Not... But not Nish.
I don't know if you came with the Normans,
part of the Norman kabaddi team.
Oh, wow! Imagine that!
-"Kabaddi, kabaddi, kabaddi! Huh?!"
It's all on a tapestry, going on for...
In days of yore, Alan the Great was a celebrated King of Brittany.
Now, this spider is called the house spider,
but what is its natural habitat?
You're absolutely right.
House spiders really do live in houses.
Whenever I catch them, I put them outside, which must drive them mad.
-No, it kills them.
-It kills them?
-It absolutely kills them.
They're one of a very small number of species
specially adapted to living indoors.
The same as if you take a garden spider and you invite it in
from the cold and you think, it's a bit chilly out there, it will die.
Who's doing that?!
What idiot is going out looking for feral spiders to bring indoors?
-So really you need a spider cupboard?
A special cupboard in your house, when you catch a spider,
you put it in the spider cupboard, they're all in there together.
-What kind of hellish arrangement is that?
I just think it's probably a good thing that Peter Parker
wasn't bitten by a radioactive house spider.
Because it would have been a very short film
of him just going, "I've got all this power."
He walks out of the house - dead immediately.
He has to stay indoors going, "There's a criminal!"
-He's able to phone the police!
-"Chase him, chase him!"
"Spider-Man, come out." "I can't come out. I can't come out.
"I'm a House Spider-Man."
Iron Man would go rusty, right?
-That's another... "I can't come out, it's raining.
-"I'll seize up."
-And Batman just gets smacked by someone's shoe.
Certain people get really itchy eyes around Catwoman.
Bruce Banner's in therapy, never gets annoyed.
Anyway, moving on...
What phrase do you use to end a radio conversation?
-Come on, someone, don't make me do it.
-Go on, Holly.
Do you go, "Over and out"?
I bought my kids walkie-talkies and they knew about over and out,
but they didn't know how to say it, and they would say,
I could hear them in the house going, "Out and in, out and in."
No. Over means,
"This is the end of my transmission to you and a response is necessary.
"Go ahead, transmit."
Out means, "This is the end of my transmission to you
"and no answer is required and expected."
So over and out would technically mean, "You can talk now if you want,
"but I'm not going to be listening."
You know when you're on the phone to someone and they drop out
of reception and it goes beep, beep, beep, and you know they've cut off.
I'd love to be able to do that in normal conversation with someone.
So if they just bore me, I just sit there and go, "Beep, beep, beep,"
-and they just know to give up.
-The thing I do if I'm on a train
and my signal's gone
but I've continued talking for at least another minute,
then you have to save face by having a full hour-long conversation.
You just go, "Yeah, no, it is, yeah, yeah, yeah.
"I am SO on the phone!"
-So, what about roger wilco?
-Lovely fella. There he is.
He was quite a looker, I reckon.
Quite a looker? I thought you said "licker". It was hard to say!
Roger wilco, that's, "I understand, I will cooperate," isn't it?
So, roger is, "I have received your last transmission satisfactorily,
"radio check is loud and clear,"
but wilco is, "I understand and will comply,"
so the roger part is redundant, you would never use the two together.
That's quite enough of this nonsense.
Let's have a look at the scores.
And I can tell you, oh, we have a tie for first place.
-They both have...
-Fight, fight, fight...
Kabaddi, kabaddi, kabaddi...
They both have three points, it's Phill and Nish!
A very creditable third place, with -4, it's Alan.
Pleased with that.
And in last place, and what an honourable place it is to be,
with -6, it's Holly!
It only remains for me to thank Holly, Phill, Nish and Alan.
And I leave you with this account of a bit of old nonsense
from the London Evening Standard.
"'Their behaviour was disgusting.
"'She and her friends pulled their clothes up for pictures,
"'lay about on the floor in compromising positions
"'and pulled a man's trousers and pants down,'
"a club member told the tribunal.
"'I was absolutely horrified.
"'You don't go for an evening out at a Conservative Club
"'expecting to see behaviour like that.
"'We stayed to see midnight in and then left.'"