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A Bit of Fry and Laurie, commonly known as ABOFAL or "Boffle," was a British television series starring former Cambridge Footlights members Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie, broadcast on both BBC 2 and also BBC 1 between 1989 and 1995. It ran for four series, and totaled 26 episodes, including a 35 minute pilot episode in 1987. Both Fry and Laurie have expressed interest in working together again, but this has not yet taken place, due to both men's busy schedules (the former with various projects, the latter with House).

The programme was a sketch show cast in a rather eccentric and at times high-brow mould. Elaborate wordplay and innuendo formed the cornerstone of its material; some sketches deliberately threatened to cross the line into vulgarity, but would always finish just before reaching that point.

It was a progressive show, playing with the audience's expectations. For example, it frequently broke the fourth wall; characters would revert into their real-life actors mid-sketch, or the camera would often pan off set into the studio. In addition, the show was punctuated with non-sequitur vox-pops in a similar style to those of Monty Python's Flying Circus, often making irrelevant statements, heavily based on wordplay. Laurie was also seen playing piano and a wide variety of other instruments, and singing comical numbers.

The first three series were broadcast on BBC 2 between 1989 and 1992, and were well-received. The fourth series was shown on BBC 1 in early 1995. It had been recorded whilst Stephen Fry was simultaneously preparing for his West End debut (in Simon Gray's Cell Mates), and a combination of the extra workload and poor reviews for his stage performance led to Fry having a nervous breakdown and fleeing to Belgium. The series met with mixed reviews and the show was not renewed.

Tropes used in A Bit of Fry and Laurie include:

Basically, the simple purpose of education must be to teach children, young people, to not, I repeat not, break into my car. There will be other aspects to education, I'm sure. But the most fundamental principle of decent, civilized behavior, is: Don't. Break into. My car.

  • Double Entendre: Or just smut
  • Drop the Cow: a method used a few times was for the characters to segue into Who Writes This Crap?, for example accusing each other of having no idea how to properly end the sketch.
  • Eagle Land: The "Kickin' Ass" song, and American army general; "Get your ass in here!"
    • America. America. America, America, America, America. Americaaaa-aa-AAA-aAa. America, America, America, America. The States. The States. The States, the States... the States. America. AMERICAAAA... (thud)
  • Enforced Method Acting: According to Hugh in a later interview, Stephen Fry had never been able to convincingly fake hitting someone. So when the script called for him to hit Hugh - which happened quite often - he would actually hit him. So that wincing and those cries of pain you hear from Hugh in this show are mostly real.
  • Precious Puppies: Puppy Appeal
  • Excuse Question: Parodied.

Who was the first man to run the four-minute mile? Was it: A) the Battle of Crecy; B) Moonraker, or C) the athlete and fast record-breaking fast miler Sir Roger "Four-Minute" Bannister, the famous runner?


Peter: Something I've always wondered, John... how the boy ended up living with Marjorie after the divorce.
John: The court ruled that I was violent and unstable, an unfit father.
Peter: Well, that's a damn joke, John! If they could have seen how you've parented this company!
John: Yeah, well, Marjorie told them a story about how one night I'd been working late, I came home, and I... I sensed in Marjorie's eyes and voice a sneering, a mocking. I don't know, I suppose I must have flipped... I emptied a bowl of trifle all over her.
Peter: So, she got custardy?
John: Very.

  • It Is Pronounced "Tro-PAY": Parodied in the sketch featuring "Mister (drops an object onto a tabletop). It's as it sounds." (Turns out, it's spelled NIPPL-hyphen-E, but he's very offended when referred to as "Mr. Nipple.")
  • Luke Nounverber: "Peter Comeinmyear"
  • Meaningless Meaningful Words: The "Young Conservatives" sketch. "I thought at one point he was going to say something which made sense..." "Yes, he just avoided it."
  • Mixed Metaphor: Hugh's chat-show-host character in the "beauty of language" sketch has trouble keeping up with Stephen's progress from metaphor to metaphor: "Hello! We're talking about language... we're talking about things ringing false in our ears... we're talking about chickens, we're talking about eggs... we've moved on to chess... ner-night."
    • There's also where Stephen says "A unique child delivered of a unique mother" and Hugh looks at the camera as if he's about to say another "We're talking about..." line, then thinks better of it.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: "Berwhale the Avenger", which appears to be a small Leatherman knife.
  • Murder Simulators: One sketch involves the conclusion that, since people are mimicking Stephen punching Hugh (by punching Hugh themselves) it would be a good idea for Stephen to give Hugh money on screen. Turns into an Overly Long Gag.
  • Never Say That Again: The "annoying guy at the vet" sketch.

Fry: ...and I make myself a cheese and tommy-toe toastie.
Laurie: A what? A cheese and what?
Fry: Tommy-toe! Tommy-toe! Tommy-toe!
Laurie: TOMATO.
Fry: Tommy-toe! Tommy-t--
Laurie: Don't say it again!


[given a line to read] I can't read that, I'm a Methodist.

    • One sketch has Stephen and Hugh explaining they've cancelled a script due to complaints about excessive violence and sex, forcing them to give a vague summary:

Hugh: During the course of the sketch, Stephen hits me several times with a golf club.
Stephen: Which, ordinarily, in the course of events, wouldn't matter, but I do it very sexily. [...] And the sketch ends with us going to bed together.
Hugh: Violently.
Stephen: Very violently.


Judge: And what did you say to that?
Hugh: I told him to mind his [beep]ing language, m'lud.