Why QI Is My Cure For Anxiety

“You are the QI fandom!”

Obviously it wasn’t meant as an insult, more as an eye-roll of exasperation at how often I mentioned I was watching the famed British panel show hosted by Stephen Fry. I have seen every episode, including cut reels where available, at least a dozen times. It’s an obsession. It’s beyond an obsession. Maybe it’s unhealthy. But I don’t think so.

Since I came across the show, a mere two years ago, I have devoured it at an alarming rate. It was my constant companion through the most anxiety riddled events, including a couple of trans-atlantic flights. My anxiety balm before I found QI was, not surprisingly, the stand up comedy of Eddie Izzard – I have seen all of his shows an uncountable number of times and can recite them. Again, freakish. Maybe unhealthy. But…

Would it be better if I chain smoked? Or, perhaps, if I drank excessively? Or exercised to the point of passing out, being so unsteady on my feet and so dehydrated that my eyes cloud when I stand?

QI is fast paced, (mildly) educational, and doesn’t require that much attention. It’s distracting without being taxing on the mind, and on top of it it is absolutely hilarious. And on top of it, each episode is hosted by a man who battles a mental health illness as well. Series G comes on and I see his weight drop dramatically, but by Series H he’s back to his healthy, happy (I hope) weight. And somewhere in the back of my mind I think, if Fry can make it so can I. Not that I’m comparing his mental state to my own, it’s simply a carrot at the end of a stick.

Despite the fact that I know the punchlines, that I know the facts (which ones are now false, which ones they’ve repeated) and all the anecdotes (some of which are repeated series apart) the each second of QI still makes me smile. And if I can eke out a smile on a day that’s particularly anxiety ridden, then that is a small but appreciable triumph.