Friday, May 18, 2007


Promotional shot of Hugh Laurie as Bertie Wooster from the Jeeves & Wooster television series. I'm not sure who to credit for it as it was likely distributed by the BBC when the series was made.

One of my students has a crush on Hugh Laurie. She hasn't said that exactly but she has all the signs of being infatuated with a famous actor. In her last several lessons, she's mentioned that she loves "House" and asked me personal questions about Hugh Laurie. She was very happy to hear that he was in the ballpark of her age (44 - he's nearly 48). She also borrowed "Black Adder" DVDs from a relative of hers and I asked her if she liked the show or if she simply liked Hugh Laurie. She said the latter.

I do wonder if she's keen on him or keen on his character on "House". I wonder if she'd have become as interested in him had she seen him in the first show I had ever seen him in, "Jeeves & Wooster". In "House", he plays an abrasive but highly intelligent doctor with a stylishly stubbled face. In "Jeeves & Wooster", he plays a kind-spirited yet rather dim-witted rich gentleman and spends a lot of his time on screen looking puzzled with mouth agape.

Promotional shot of Hugh Laurie as King George from Black Adder III (or Black Adder the Third). He also appeared regularly as Lt. George in Black Adder IV (or Black Adder Goes Forth). Once more, I'm not sure who to credit for it as it was probably distributed by the BBC when the series was made.

Similarly, the second show in which I encountered Hugh Laurie, Black Adder, also featured him as a clueless prince. In fact, I so associated him with playing dumb guys with a British accent that his portrayal in "House" came as an extreme shock. I primarily saw him as a comedic actor who specialized in playing ebullient half-wits.

One thing that became clear after seeing him in "House" is that he has joined the ranks of comedic actors who have shown they are capable of doing dramatic roles very well (like Robin Williams) though I'm not sure he's made the transition in my mind from a goofy-looking fellow to crush-worthy heartthrob. ;-)


Incidentally, if you're a fan of light-hearted, farcical humor set in a kinder era, I heartily recommend Jeeves & Wooster. The choice of words alone can be quite funny sometimes and the series has the distinct advantage of being utterly lacking in mean-spiritedness though I'm not sure everyone would enjoy the style or the setting (the 1920's-1930's)

If you're a fan of British humor and don't mind if it's a bit on the nasty side (but is extremely funny and witty), then give Black Adder a go. If you do watch Black Adder, you'll see that "House" has included an inside joke referencing the oft-uttered line "I have a cunning plan" when Dr. Cameron said, "you'd better come up with a cunning plan..."


Helen said...

If you'd like to see Hugh Laurie in full comedic mode, try to see some of "A Bit of Fry And Laurie". It was a British sketch comedy show and was absolutely hysterical. I'm not sure if your student would "get" it though. It was very much British humor.

She might like "Peter's Friends" as well. Ken Branagh's film about a group of friends that get together one weekend. Hugh Laurie has a nice part in that.

I remember seeing most of Fry & Laurie, a lot of Blackadder (incredibly funny) but I somehow didn't get into Jeeves & Wooster. It was on PBS when I was still back home, but for some reason, I couldn't get into it.

But, I do remember the one small scene that Hugh Laurie had on Friends....absolutely priceless...and so true!

Shari said...

I've actually already seen "A Bit of Fry and Laurie" though only relatively recently. Some parts of it really brought Monty Python to mind and others were quite different.

Both my husband and I think that it would be incredibly cool is Stephen Fry did a guest appearance on "House". :-)

My student very likely wouldn't get it though. Her English is pretty good but not good enough to understand T.V. without Japanese subtitles (though she does try to understand).

BTW, I think it's easier to get into Jeeves & Wooster if you've read the Wodehouse stories first and developed a taste for the type of humor in it.

Joanna said...

Actually, I think Hugh Laurie is hot... but then, I always liked Tall, super skinny, guys... And I'm 30... I think the most shocking thing I've seen him in is “Stuart Little”... I'm still shocked thinking he played a goody dad, than a bumbling British guy...

Elec said...

I have been loving "House" since I started watching episodes several weeks ago. He's a fantastic actor and I've been looking up a lot of clips of his older works on YouTube. Black Adder is of course a favorite. You also can't go wrong, really, with P.G. Wodehouse.
I'm totally fascinated with the show, despite its formulaic outline, and am often surprised when I recommend it to people and they kinda shrug and go "eh". Ah well, more for me to enjoy... alone? :-P

Alexxx said...

I Much prefer Hugh Laurie in his old stuff. I think he is brilliant in House and he plays the part really well but it just doesn't seem very good.

When I first watched House I did find myself thinking, "Ooof he's nice." (Which worried my 17 year old mind. lol) but upon watching my 'A Bit of Fry And Laurie' DVD I realized I much prefer him as the half-witted type of character. I don't know if that's because I've seen him in Blackadder and Jeeves and Wooster from a young age and thus have become accustomed to it - but as House it suddenly seemed as if Hugh Laurie was trying to fit in with the arrogant-American crowd. It just doesn't seem right.

I thought he looks way better in a powered wig or a WW1 uniform.

P.s. What also bugs me is how so many people are more aware of him now that he is been in House and yet he has done some farrr better stuff before that. I've seen comments on youtube videos like "Oh I didn't realize Hugh was in this show..."
I'd like to hit those people. Very much.