John Lloyd: Liff of QI
Expert raconteur wields his massive brain
This article is from 2013.
The veteran writer, director, performer, producer and founder of classic television comedy including Not the Nine O’Clock News, Blackadder, Spitting Image and QI looks back over the highlights of his extremely impressive career. Alongside Douglas Adams, John Lloyd also co-authored The Meaning of Liff, the wonderfully nonsensical dictionary of words that don’t exist yet (all of which are inspired by real place names), and is appearing at the Fringe to promote volume two, Afterliff.
Appropriately enough, then, Lloyd bookends his show with quotes from both and ends it with a signing session. It’s during these segments that we learn, for example, that a ‘sheppey’ is a ‘measure of distance (equal to approximately seven eighths of a mile), defined as the closest distance at which sheep remain picturesque’. Curiously, Lloyd opts not to disclose the definition of ‘liff’ which, other than being a village outside Dundee, is ‘a book, the contents of which are totally belied by its cover’.
As you’d expect from someone who’s been in the business this long, Lloyd’s performance is impeccable. His segues from one amusing anecdote to another are seamless, while his marshalling of fascinating funny facts is encyclopaedic. Whether he’s recalling attempts to get some seriously offensive satirical material written for Spitting Image past the woolly old boys in the top office or explaining why 95% of the universe has disappeared in the last 50 years, his delivery is never less than enthralling. And at the end, you are left with the impression that Lloyd has barely touched upon everything he knows.
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