Stephen Fry’s first public appearance of his Australian visit at the Sydney Opera House last night didn’t load up heavily on the technology references, but covered more than enough ground to confirm his reputation as polymath/geek/wit/raconteur/all-round top bloke.
Fry is famous for his massive Twitter following and addiction to all things Apple, but frankly it would be dull if a man with such a wide range of interests talked about nothing but that for 90 minutes (half monologue, half interview session with Jennifer Byrne). Some of the audience questions were drawn from Twitter. Fry asked an audience member to time him and she happened to have an iPhone, and he structured his talk around his own personal ‘www’ — Wodehouse, Wilde and Waugh. However, in a performance covering everything from mental health to the relative oddness of your surname and where missing objects go (Parramatta — think about it), tech was always going to be simply one of many, many memes.
Nonetheless, we’ve still collected some of the geek-relevant quotes for your amusement, while recognising that’s no substitute for the actual experience of seeing Fry in person. (The ABC is recording the sessions and they’ll doubtless show up in a friendly corner of iView at some point — we’ll let you know)
Fry on Amazon and the diversity of ideas: “Amazon and all the others — they make an enormous mistake. When you log onto Amazon, it says, you bought this book if you like this book you might like this one, and they show you books that are similar. They should show you ones that are the opposite.”
Fry on blogging as performance: “In the modern world of blogging and videos and uploading user generated content, maybe more and more people are going to get invited to perform rather than watch.”
Fry on Star Trek: “Most of human history and art can be expressed in Star Trek.” (Fry proceeded to prove this at more length than we can quote here.)
Fry on platypuses: When asked if he believed platypuses were an elaborate scientific hoax, he responded:
The thing that tells you it must be real is that it blows your fucking mind.