I'm sorry I haven't a clue
Last night I watched a documentary on BBC4 about Stephen Fry to celebrate his 50th birthday. Well, it wasn’t really a documentary, more a load of talking heads queuing up to say how fantastic he was, held together by an endless montages of clips showing us how funny he can be.
I don’t mind Stephen Fry at all. He can be amusing enough and has had a varied and impressive career of which he should be very proud, but one thing about this celebrity love-in irked me. The production team had lined up an admirable array of familiar faces to endorse the wit of Mr. Fry, from Harry Potter one trick pony JK Rowling to slobbering chat show host Jonathan Ross, but one thing that stuck out far more than the A-list fan club was the fact that 99% of them had the same thing to say: that Stephen Fry is very intelligent.
Seriously, not one star, including, in fact, the Prince of Wales, whose HRH credentials we were constantly reminded of thanks to intrusive titles every time he came on screen, could not get through their eulogy without informing us just how brainy, how clever, how learned and just downright remarkable Stephen Fry is. After a while, I began to feel uncomfortable about this. I know he’s written countless books and, you know, talks posh and uses long words, but after 25 years in the business, is the best thing his admirers can tell us that he knows lots of stuff? And is that a good enough reason to celebrate him?
I’m hardly a brainbox, but I’m not stupid, and I don’t wear my assumed intelligence like a badge. Stephen’s star-studded inner circle seemed to be in awe of this man who knows a few poems and- gasp!- knows a lot about certain things. Someone (I can’t remember who) even said that it was an achievement for Stephen to even get on TV these days, because it was now the domain of thick people. Watching this crowing, fawning bunch of moneyed arse lickers passing round their singular brain cell to exalt someone who has read a lot of dusty old books, I was inclined to agree; they really will let anyone on TV.
Stephen is a prolific author, actor, comedian and director, but if the best thing any of his mates can say is that they’ve never met someone so clever, what’s the point?
I can’t remember who it was (it might have been the acidic TV critic Charlie Brooker), but someone a few years ago said that Stephen Fry was what an idiot would deem a clever person. I suppose it’s easy to look like a genius if you surround yourself with vapid, compliment-spewing imbeciles, right? I should try it myself.