Fry's new show scripted by his Twitter fans

The idea that an entertainer would organise a 5,000-seater solo gig with no script and only a hazy plan to amuse the crowd, brings to mind images of creeks and paddles.

But if that entertainer happens to be a wizard of digital technology with a sizeable Twitter following and a grand plan to crowd-source his material, the scheme may just float.

Stephen Fry, writer, comedian and raconteur, has announced that his solo show at the Royal Albert Hall, in London, next month will remain, for the best part, unscripted. Fry will rely on his Twitter fans to suggest topics for his monologue.

If the idea sounds like an entertainer's equivalent of a bungee jump, at least it's a tried-and-tested one, in Fry's case. Last month, he performed two sell-out shows at the Sydney Opera House based on the same Twitter principle, and blew the crowd away, according to Australian reviewers.

Yesterday, Fry admitted that while the idea held an element of risk, he had found himself riffing quite happily in Sydney. By popular demand, he performed a second show, while a Facebook campaign was set up urging him to do a turn in Melbourne, where he held an additional two shows.

"It was a little unnerving as I hadn't scripted it but Twitter followers asked me to talk about things like Oscar Wilde, P G Wodehouse and writing, so I began by talking about things beginning with 'w'.

"I enjoyed the experience, all [the shows] were different. I was on for about two hours; they couldn't get me off," he said.

For his 'Evening with...' show in London on 20 September, Fry will put out the same request to his million-plus followers to tell him what they want to hear. Nothing would be "off limits", he said, and he would take in serious discussions about depression, of which he has personal experience, as well as more whimsical material.

"I'm not going to move among the audience but I will ask people on Twitter if they have any questions or subjects, and I will respond accordingly," he said.

Fry is arguably the most high-profile of entertainers to have harnessed the power of digital media, with increasing numbers of comedians beginning to use Twitter to expand audiences.

Gary Delaney, currently performing at the Edinburgh Festival, said he often tested his one-liners on his Twitter followers, sometimes just minutes before a gig. "You can use Twitter for crowd-sourcing but what I do is test funny ideas," he said.

"People have come to see me, who haven't seen me before, because of Twitter. I have noticed in Edinburgh this year that more comedians are on Twitter, because they see it as a powerful tool."

His followers: 'I just have to say we love you. Fact'

At teatime yesterday, 1,679,221 followers were hanging on Stephen Fry's every tweet. But what does Fry get from them? And if they are to provide the inspiration for a gig next month, how hard can we expect to laugh?

Well, if yesterday's unscientific dipping of a toe into Fry's digital stream is anything to go by, he'll have to draw on all his famous brain power to turn the banal into the hilarious.

Things actually started quite well, when Fry linked to an online report of a survey that suggests people who use iPhones have more sexual partners than those who have a BlackBerry or Android smartphone.

"Who could have doubted it?" he asked in a morning tweet. Among a torrent of replies (Fry gets hundreds of "@s", or mentions, every hour) came an Irish tweeter called @dubiousgenius with the moderately witty "Don't you have both iphone and android? You must be exhausted."

How we laughed! Elsewhere, Fry's legion of fans (and we'll admit they haven't yet been invited to provide comic fodder) were rarely amusing. "How was inception? i LOVED it!" asked @cjaysessions.

@GillianMcShane was watching Dave (the television channel). She said: "catching up on QI [which Fry presents]. Anderson, Reeves & Clarkson on the panel. Magnificent!

Indeed, fawning seemed to be the order of the day. Arguably the most nauseating example came from @FallenToblakai, who "@ed" Fry with: "I just have to say on behalf of myself, wife and children, we love you. FACT." Flattering for Fry, but hardly side-splitting.

Simon Usborne

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face

books
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from How To Train Your Dragon 2

Review: Imaginative storytelling returns with vigour

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Josh Hutcherson, Donald Sutherland and Jena Malone in Mockinjay: Part 1

film
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
A waxwork of Jane Austen has been unveiled at The Jane Austen Centre in Bath

books
Arts and Entertainment
Britney Spears has been caught singing without Auto-Tune

music
Arts and Entertainment
Unless films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, pictured, can buck the trend, this summer could be the first in 13 years that not a single Hollywood blockbuster takes $300m

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has her magic LSD brain stolen in this crazy video produced with The Flaming Lips

music
Arts and Entertainment
Gay icons: Sesame Street's Bert (right) and Ernie

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Robin Thicke and actress Paula Patton

music
Arts and Entertainment
The new film will be shot in the same studios as the Harry Potter films

books
Arts and Entertainment
Duncan Bannatyne left school at 15 and was still penniless at 29

Bannatyne leaves Dragon's Den

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The French economist Thomas Piketty wrote that global inequality has worsened

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant and Benedict Cumberbatch

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck plays a despondent Nick Dunne in David Fincher's 'Gone Girl'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty (L) and Carl Barât look at the scene as people begin to be crushed

music
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Caral Barat of The Libertines performs on stage at British Summer Time Festival at Hyde Park

music
Arts and Entertainment
Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea perform on stage at the Billboard Music Awards 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Zina Saro-Wiwa

art
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

    Why did we stop eating whelks?

    Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice