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Remember when Stephen Fry was funny? I can, though it’s getting harder with every passing year. In the late 1980s Fry emerged seemingly fully formed as a colossus in the world of comedy and light entertainment. His every endeavour served as a showcase for his effervescent wit, original mind, and all-round brilliance. He could, it seems, do almost anything.
Among his many early triumphs was one of the greatest TV sketch shows ever produced – A Bit of Fry and Laurie, made with his best pal Hugh, which ran for four series on the BBC. Unlike with his comic heroes the Pythons, or Peter Cook, you didn’t have to sit through too much duff material to get to the gems like ‘Parrot Sketch’ or ‘One Leg Too Few’. The strike rate was very high. More than that, there was a point to the sketches. Never just zany or slapstick – though he could do either if he chose – Fry used comedy to play with language and ideas, to challenge received wisdom, and expose pomposity and cant.