Chatshow

A sketch from A Bit of Fry & Laurie

Hugh is a young and surprisingly handsome chat-show host on a young and surprisingly awful Channel Four chat-show. He is behind his desk.

Hugh (In reference to whatever sketch has finished) Well that was the unmistakable sound. Right, my next guest wrote his first novel back in 1972, the year of loons and flares and Suzi Quatro and the Glitter Band and all that stuff. He's been writing ever since, got a new one coming out now. Bit of a cult dude with the Saporo and sushimi set, so let's say a big "hi!" to Richard Morley! Enter slightly nervous and serious looking Stephen to absurdly brash music. Hugh does ludicrous jive handshake. Right, Richard, welcome, sit down, take the weight off your paragraphs. Stephen looks bewildered by this peculiar joke. So tell me, this novel, what's it called?

Stephen The novel I've just written is called The Emperor of Disgust.

Hugh The Emperor of Disgust. Sounds pretty heavy.

Stephen Heavy?

Hugh What's it about?

Stephen You haven't read it?

Hugh Well, for the viewers, you know. They haven't, obviously. It isn't published till tomorrow is it? How can they have done!!! Hugh punches Stephen on the arm.

Stephen Oh, I see. Well it isn't very easy to tell you the plot precisely because it is rather complicated.

Hugh Highbrow stuff I'll bet. Where's it set?

Stephen Set? Well the action of the novel takes place over several different centuries and a number of different -

Hugh Tell me, do you use a word processor? Thing I've always wanted to know about writers, you know, how they set about it. Pencil, pen, typewriter. All that.

Stephen Well I use a word processor as a matter of fact. I used to use a typewriter, but -

Hugh How many novels then, have you had, in fact, published?

Stephen The Emperor of Disgust will be my seventh.

Hugh Seventh? You take it pretty seriously, then?

Stephen Yes, yes indeed I do. I do take it seriously. Very seriously. It's my job you see. My living.

Hugh Right. Right. Yeah. Tell me, where do you get your characters from? From real life?

Stephen Well usually I suppose they're an amalgam, you know.

Hugh You gonna put me in one of your books then?

Stephen Well I think I might actually.

Hugh (Thrilled with the idea) Yeah!?

Stephen Yes. I really think you are one of the most repellent and flatulent-minded people I've ever met. In many respects ideal fodder for the novelist. Hugh laughs in an "isn't this geezer just brilliant?" kind of a way.

Stephen I don't know what you're laughing at, I find you mindless, vapid and irrelevant.

Hugh (Still laughing) Seriously, Richard, what's the -

Stephen I am being serious, you repulsive ball of spittle. And who the hell told you you could call me Richard? You're rotting in hell and you haven't the faintest idea of it, have you?

Hugh The last book you wrote ...

Stephen Last book I wrote! You haven't a clue about the last book I wrote have you, except from what that daffy researcher you sent round tells you? Your head is crammed with so much pappy drivel and greasy bigotry and brash ignorance that there isn't room in it for one single idea, is there?

Hugh This is brilliant.

Stephen Oh it's brilliant is it? It's "good television" I suppose. It shows you at the cutting edge of dangerous broadcasting. You're about as dangerous as a chocolate "Hob Nob". Hugh mugs to the camera. Look at you, sitting there like a ... like a fat, smug ... a fat smug ... (Breaking out of character and talking to someone off camera) Sorry I've forgotten the next bit, "a fat smug ... "

Hugh (Also addressing someone off) Vince, we go live on air in ten minutes, I thought he knew his lines. What's going on?

Stephen Sorry, I'm a bit nervous.

Hugh (Coaching) "a fat smug git who's just won a ..."

Stephen (With Hugh coaching) Oh yes, a fat smug git who's just won a BAFTA. Have you any idea how degrading and demeaning to the human spirit people like you are?

Hugh Great, then I'll ask you where your book is on sale, how much it costs and we'll play you out.

Stephen Alright.

Hugh Then I'll do a bit of chat, "blah-di-blah-di-blah- di-blah" and bang, bang, bang. And, what's next?

Vox Pop

Hugh Sex and violence, really. That kind of thing. We're a small company, but things are very busy at the moment.

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