Let Fame

Firstly. A big thank you to all of you for putting up with the server problems that accompanied the arrival of my first blog essay, or blessay as I quite horribly prefer to call it. I thank you all for your suggestions, tips, links and comments. I can’t reply to all the points raised, but I will say that (A) the Nokia E series iSync plugin just simply doesn’t work for me, nor do any third party offerings. “Unexpected error”. I shall wait till Missing Sync come up with their solution which is due soon and (B) no, I don’t want my iPhone hacked or cracked, thanks very much for the offer. We may return to the geeky side of my life a little later.

This blessay, while entirely different in other respects, is also unaccountably and inexcusably prolix. Sorry about that, I don’t seem to be able to keep things brief. So my advice is that you read it in bits. Or print it out and save it for a rainy day or a recalcitrant motion.

I will try to produce more traditional ‘dear diary’ style down-and-dirty blogs if that’s what you would prefer, but I advise you to be prepared to expect a mixture of the long and the short.

My subject this week is Fame….

Let Fame, that all hunt after in their lives, Live registered upon our brazen tombs…

I have been pondering this business of fame since I was young enough to know Valerie Singleton from the Queen (for Americans and other non-Britons I should explain: one is a remote, god-like, autocratic woman endowed with powerful charismatic charm and the other is a constitutional monarch recently played on screen by Helen Mirren).

Some questions will be addressed in the following blessay:

· Is fame really something that “all hunt after in their lives”? · Whose fault is fame? · Can we postulate a kind of fame meme? · What’s it like being famous, Stephen? · What are the bad things about being famous?

The quotation I opened with is so firmly branded on my memory that I have no need to check it: it’s from the beginning of Love’s Labour’s Lost. When I was in a student production nearly 30 years ago Hugh Laurie played the King of Navarre and was incapable of delivering those opening lines without giggling; what set him off was catching the eye of Paul Schlesinger, who played Berowne. This happens on stage; I remember having a similar problem with John Gordon Sinclair – the only way we could get through some scenes of The Common Pursuit was by looking away from each other. It’s a chemical thing, like a kind of (mostly) benign allergy, impossible to explain or predict. Anyway, Hugh Laurie had the affliction big time with Paul Schlesinger. So much so that the harassed director, Brigid Larmour, was forced to get the entire company of attendant lords to intone the opening speech tutti, as a kind of chant or oath, to draw attention away from the corpsing. Brigid Larmour is now artistic director of the Watford Theatre, Paul Schlesinger is the head of BBC Radio Entertainment and Hugh Laurie has disappeared into oblivion. How the whirligig of time brings in its revenges. I played Don Armado incidentally, a character with the best description in any of the Shakespearean dramatic personae: he is “Don Armado, a fantastical Spaniard”. Only I was Don Armado, a fantastical Mexican because … oh, it’s another story altogether.

Intro For the duration of much of what follows it might be a good idea if you cast yourself as famous. Much of success in life comes from being able to put yourself in the shoes of another: in the shoes of a prince or a pauper, a dictator or a dick-head, a burgomaster or a burger-flipper, regardless of degree, status or esteem, it’s what imagination means – the ability to penetrate the consciousness and experience of another. It’s perhaps the defining characteristic of the artist. So, rather than look at fame from the outside which we can all do (only members of a royal family are born famous after all) try in the following paragraphs to look at fame from the inside. I’m not suggesting this because I think famous people need especial understanding or sympathy, it’s just that I suspect much of what’s written below will make more sense that way. Besides, isn’t it the best way to read anything? Only resentful bores and bitter egoists see everything from their own point of view, surely?

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This blog was posted in Blessays

352 comments on “Let Fame”

  1. Ash says:

    I chat to all sorts of (sleb and non-sleb) people and sometimes annoy them. But I generally want to say, I appreciate them. I don’t love or want to touch them – but meeting people whom we respect, is a very fulfilling act – even if it’s not for both parties. I couldn’t imagine what it’d be like being ‘hassled’ every day. I’d probably want to kill someone. The Beatles – they knew what it was like to be famous. That fall of George’s at the start of A Hard Day’s Night – he jumped straight up from it. Youth and fame – inexplicable yet complimentary.

  2. A very interesting read, makes me feel slightly guilty about my ‘lust’ for fame =/ [although I grant you I do want to earn it, otherwise peopl scowl at you far more than if you try hard]
    I must say the handful of ‘famous’ people I have met have been excellent and really nice to talk to, but these have only been at organised events, I’m not sure I’d now have the courage to approach someone in the street lol
    Much love

  3. Teaflax says:

    This was a very timely read for me. I’ve spent a lot of time recently thinking about fame and the desire for it. I once had that desire and I did achieve a very minor version of fame in my home nation. I quickly found that I really could not handle it and was lucky enough to be able to fade back into obscurity. But as a result, I know a great many people who’ve gone on to be household names, and – as you so rightly note – very few of them are necessarily very happy. Being a sleb does have its advantages, to be sure, but I find they are easily outweighed by the many negatives.

    Oh, and if I may be so bold; “blog” and “post” are not interchangable words, just as newspaper and column or book and chapter aren’t. Some may want mroe down-and-dirty *posts* from you, but the blog is merely the framing page and content holder. Me, I quite enjoy the wordy and thought-out posts, but I’m certainly far from being representative of anything.

  4. kittyvonsometime says:

    Mr Fry,
    Your new found blogtasm has journeyed its way to me, english girlwoman relocated in Iceland, and received with glee. It was only a few months ago I had begun polluting my young Icelandic friends with the likes of a bit of Fry and Laurie. Being a blogger and one who is missing truly fantastic use of the english language (Icelanders do scarily well, but most not to the same degree that I crave) I am ecstatic to have your blessays to mull over.

    I am one of those people who feel they like you regardless of personal interaction and it stems not from TV or film or somesuch but simply from your written description of how it feels to want to sing and not be able to do so. I have never heard anyone put it so and it stained my memory for a decade.

    Please, blog away, I am enjoying it massively.
    x Kitty


  5. kimpertinent says:

    Since my only experience of ‘slebs’ is avoiding a vomiting sean hughes in the edinburgh fest, and demanding that bill bailey tell my friends he was NOT bill bailey (which he very kindly did, what a nice man) I am well cheered to hear of horror fans far worse. On the other hand, your fame enabled my cousin to embrace being gay. As a monosyllabic hulk of a traumatised teenager in the 80s, he claims (now that he speaks) that you saved him. Living proof (at least on the telly) that he might fancy boys but that didnt mean he had to be one of the camp fey outrageously gay people in order to do so. In fact he could be intelligent! and still prefer lads… so since he’s the only one of my generation who’s married, thanks for that – twas a cracking do!

  6. ASmethurst says:

    by Bruther Will

    That catch yare eye as yew go in
    Large red letters “No Smokin”,
    Seems them fags got a lot o’tar in em.
    Clog yare lungs, make a lot o’flem.

    So oi sits down to wait me tarn,
    Several others are in there as well,
    You’ed think the way they look at yuh,
    I’d cum tew dew ‘em some harm.

    They sits there wi’ faces orl strait an glum, Daresay sum on’em are ill, else they woull’nt cum, Them ole gals in the corner, torkin in low tones About operations, an’harnias, an’broken bones.

    Ole Garg hobble in wi’his sticks
    Wi’owt him thuh sargery’s incomplete
    Bin cummin’here now this larst twenty year
    ‘Yuh see doctor, it’s me poor ole feet’.

    How menny toimes hev he said it
    Thuh poor doctor must know it by heart
    But he’ll greet im wi’a cheery word
    An’say “Well Garg, yew haint fell apart”.

    Oi on’y cum for a prescription
    Thass reddy now, so Oi’ll go
    Leavin sum on ‘em torkin about their ills
    An’others clutchin’ them littl’ boxeso’ pills.

  7. jq says:

    Got to this a little late but enjoying it nonetheless

  8. jq says:

    Got to this a little late but enjoying it.

  9. royandronnie says:

    Dear Mr. Fry,

    An online friend linked me to your site, and this entry, after I related a short anecdote about the relativity of fame on the website to which we both belong. Not only did I enjoy this insider’s perspective on fame, written in that wonderfully ironic style of yours, but I can’t thank you enough for it. It would have been intrinsically interesting in the ordinary way, but as it happens at some point in 2008 I will be meeting an A-list sleb for lunch–a privilege in pursuit of which I shot a fairly silly amount of money at his favorite charity–and your musings were a useful cautionary tale. I was aghast, for example, to find myself hardly unique in wanting to come off as unique. Well. Back to Plan A then–trying not to faint while keeping all fingers out of unattractive orifices. It could be a quiet meal!

    I found myself nodding with a somewhat grim smile at your account of the joys of dragooning a third person into taking a picture of oneself avec sleb, or just trying to have one’s solo self recorded at, say, a trailhead. Yep. Been there, suffered that. But the smile faded as you recounted the way cameras have ruined book signings for you and encounters with fans become cellcam free-for-alls. The PR folk will have collective conniptions, I guess, but I’ve been thinking for a while that it should be against the law to record famous people just going about their business. If they start going at it in the street, well, that’s one thing. But I think you should be allowed to visit the loo in Stevenage without anyone’s recording the TP comet trailing from your shoe as you leave. I mean, one can’t sell a non-famous person’s picture, or even use it publicly, without written consent. So why should it be any different for someone like you, or even Tom Cruise who does perhaps beg to be recorded doing embarrassing things?

    (My favorite of your characters–I admit I’m not exhaustively familiar with your oeuvre–is General Blaster-Sumph, he of the near-sighted squirrel. I was so sorry The Thin Blue Line didn’t last longer. I about died in the opening episode when Constable Habib went into her dissection of the relationship between Biggles and Ginger.)

    Yours appreciatively.

  10. lauren-c-93 says:

    Really enjoyable and interesting to read. And I’m fourteen. Most girls I know would rather read Katie Price’s books…


    Anyway, more “blessays”, please.

    (God, most of the other people writing comments come across as being so intellectual and interesting. I sound like I’m trying too hard.)


  11. Skittlebunny says:

    What an enjoyable read! It is a shame that Mr Fry has stopped signings because the problems mentioned are ones easily solved.

    I went to a Michael Palin book signing back in October and there were hundreds in the queue. A waterstones guy came round beforehand to put post-it notes inside the books with the person’s name on in order to speed up the process. It was at this point that we were told that no posed photographs were allowed and if you wanted to take an unposed photo, not to use the flash.

    This was completely understandable as he wanted to get books signed for as many people as possible and I didn’t hear anyone complaining about it. Unfortunatelely, I didn’t know we were allowed multiple items signed, so I just got a book signed for my boyfriend’s mum. However, I have the memory of meeting him, which is far nicer than a signature or a photograph!

    I really do hope Mr Fry reads this, so that he knows there is hope! (And also so he can be in a bookstore near all of us soon!)

  12. Crusader says:

    Oh lord.

    I was browsing through the old entries in hope for less geeky, un-technological stuff and did I have fun reading this at the morning class, giggling to my sleeve like any other teenage girl after discovering a picture of Johnny Depp half naked. Long as a year of famine it was, but a lot interesting and amusing than the prof behind my back.

    But I’m crushed by the fact that the book I actually thought was/is enjoyable, although maybe a little streched out of its necessary portion, is muchly disliked by the great Stephen Fry. I might no shait about good literature, but then again, I very much enjoyed Moab is my Washpot and Hippopotamus as well… Oh well.

    Very informative entry, really. Interesting insights to slebs side of things. Muchly appreciated and please, more of this and less about gadgeds I no shait about. :P One can only hope, I guess.


  13. richard999 says:

    Many years ago (1988?), when I was a student, I was in London with my Mum (she was visiting me from Oop North, to check that I hadn’t yet succumbed to rickets, T.B., etc.). It was a lovely summer Sunday and we were walking along a street when I spotted, down a side road, the then just-become-famous Stephen Fry, doing a bit of filming on the steps of some building or other. It took every atom of my persuasive powers and true pleading to stop Mum dashing across the road to demand an autograph from Stephen for me!

    Stephen – it was a lucky escape for you! My Mum can do about 200 words on a single lungful of air. Also, Mum’s a nurse and has worked in retirement homes for years; it’s quite draining to hear about “Old Mrs. Jones’ bedsores” and “Mr. Green’s bedsheet unpleasantries”! Again: you got off lightly!

  14. Susan P. says:

    This is the type of essay that reminds me of the joy I used to experience as a child reading James Thurber.

    To the question: “What’s it like being famous…?” I have longed to hear a rejoinder along the lines of:
    “And what’s it like to wear that blue tie?”

    The question is so abstract and so elusive.

    You often read about the ‘miseries’ of fame and one in particular struck me recently: it was the issue of separation e.g. the ‘famous’ person separated from spouse or partner and their relationship being strained as a result.

    It led me to think about how often we forget simple issues amid the complexity of our lives.

    I adore my son for example and I see him almost every day. But I know there are times, for either one of us, when that meeting is just not the best. One of us is out of kilter with the world and we just need to be within ourselves and our own doings for a while.

    If I was filming away in Singapore (for example) and my son traveled from Aus. to see me I would feel pretty darned rotten if, on the day he landed, I was in that out of kilter state. I might have been looking SO forward to seeing him but on that day…egad..I may be dying to be alone and to be left alone and seeing him may be the last thing I feel I can ‘live up to’.

    We can crave these indulgences – work around needs like I have described – when we are ‘together’ geographically with someone, but separations (even when chosen) create false scenarios and it can take tremendous honesty and courage to get through them – and to kick guilt to the curb.

    In terms of shopping etc. If I came across you in a supermarket I doubt I would speak to you about one of your shows etc because in my own mind you shopping is your time to be ordinary (or as ordinary as you can be once a known face and persona). However, I would want to feel ok about saying: “I simply can’t reach this top shelf item would you mind handing me down a packet please.”

    I think, for some of us not famous folk, we actually WOULD prefer to treat you like anyone else but we’re frightened to.

    And of course, some of us may have had the experience of being in a queue at the Road Transport Office and then finding a minor celeb throwing a tantrum because they have to wait and are refused quick access. In those circumstances the person is demanding that they NOT be treated like anyone else.

    Now, this said, once again, if I was in a line and you were behind me and suffering from a mass of attention and you were, to my mind, beginning to show discomfort, I might offer you my place. NOT because you are “famous” but because you are in an uncomfortable situation.

    One thing I would like to know more about, which you allude to in your essay, is how actors remove themselves from a role. As an audience member my mindset, speech and certain actions can be affected for a week or more after I view something that has struck a chord with me. I sometimes can feel the role within my own skin. How do actors remove layers of character roles from themselves or is this impossible to do 100%? Are you marked for ever more – within yourselves – by some of the roles you take? NOT anything to do with infamy but about inner change.

  15. Susan P. says:

    kimpertinent.. I was greatly taken by a comment I heard many years ago about falling in love with a person not a gender. I’m sure some of us are more persuaded to be romantic with one gender compared to another – still, I felt the comment very worthwhile because it cuts to the individual and pares away the categor(ies).

  16. Susan P. says:

    You might not care for this sort of ‘day’ however, given I am in Australian time and this IS the day.. I hope you and your partner Stephen have a happy Valentine’s Day and a lifetime of being constantly comforted, supported and also surprised and intrigued by each other.

  17. brouhaha says:

    Mr. Fry, your take on the issues you tackle in your blessays is most refreshing, as is your prose style.

    The point you make about the fatuousness (is that even a word? or is it “fatuousity?”. Hmmm. Maybe it’s simply “stupidity”. Yes, that’s it – stupidity [taking shoe off and bopping self on head with it]) of saying “that person is only famous for being famous” is interesting. Although on the surface I agree with you, it seems to me as though the blog craze has spawned its own little celebrity niche – for example, probably as I type this 2.57 million other people are posting their take on the day they had yesterday on the block, but it’s only a handful of those who know how to market themselves and accordingly become sensations. This because they’re not afraid to bitch about their boyfriends/girlfriends/coworkers or whatever the pet peeve of the day is. Why people are actually interested in this sort of thing, I don’t know. However, I do think that those bloggers have managed to create their own fame within themselves in a most peculiar way – they write about the mundane, put it out there for all to see and say “Here I am, blogging from midwestern America (or wherever) and what I have to say is worth reading, damnit!”) And so it becomes.

    On a somewhat related topic, I’d be very interested to read your thoughts on the act of blogging in and of itself. I suspect they would be both amusing and insightful – far more so than the nonsensical ramble above, anyway.

    Again, many, many thanks.


  18. Lila says:

    What a thoughtful blessay.

    I just wanted to thank you for standing up for the companion. I dated the lead singer of a mere local-band-done-good. He wanted me to go everywhere with him because we met outside of his circle and I have my head screwed on, I suppose.

    Unfortunately, what he never understood, was that I was constantly ignored by everyone who pandered to him — even so called friends — never mind the fans. I was shoved many a time, and verbally abused on several occasions by mini mobs of drunk girls.

    I know it wasn’t his fault, but it would have been a whole lot easier to deal with had he the thoughtful insights that you show here. Your friends are very lucky indeed =)

  19. ianaries says:

    I am just re-iterating Stephen’s point and Lila’s above. I was an actor of nondescript ability back in the mid 1990’s and performed in a few Christmas Pantos with some home grown talent and some Australian soap stars who were pretty much my age at the time and so became my ‘mates’ for the duration of the shows. Quite often whilst out and about they would be stopped and I and the other actors in the group became very much side lined and shunted rail cars for the duration of the conversation. This did become annoying over post show nose-bagging sessions when slightly wobbly clientèle in the restaurant would insist on telling how much they like/admired/hated/were incredibly similar to the celeb and on one occasion a person actually took the seat of one of our crowd as she left for the loo. We had to rather forcefully point out what rude dick they were when she returned as they wouldn’t leave the table. This task fell to me so as to save our celeb friend from becoming the unsporting famous ogre, but I was quite happy to do it. Not because that person was ‘my celeb’ but because the ‘fan’ was simply not thinking, rather tiddly, too excited and downright rude.

  20. Antonia says:

    It’s four o’clock in the morning but your blog was so worth reading! I think I’d like to class myself in the simple nice-fan-mass only to show that I’m not the same as other fans which instantly makes me identical.. There’s no way out. >_< eep!

    It’s very likable to ‘read someone’ who writes down thoughts so unencrypted and true to his own feelings. Keep up the good work!

    Most cute bright beloved part:
    ‘And maybe if he could only get to know me he would discover that I was so different from everyone else around him..’

  21. Grinners says:

    fgaughan made an interesting comparison between your experiences with fans and to how people always start trying to sign when they meet a deaf person.

    As I was reading I was also thinking of the similarities particularly with regards to people asking “what is it like being famous”. People ask me “what is it like, being deaf?” Having being deaf all my life how the hell do I know!? I normally respond with “what is it like not being deaf….?”

    And yes people insist on signing to me, even when I have pointed out I only know a few swear words.

    Am new to your site so I am off to read more!

  22. Jonathan Syer says:

    I do enjoy a good blog that always gets me thinking…

    Now these thoughts and what have its may have popped up on previous comments but I am far too lazy/sane to read through all 369 :P

    I have often wondered what it would be like to meet a “famous” person. Would they be welcoming understanding etc? I have played witty scenarios in my mind back and forth keeping me entertained on my bus journey to work or walking to Uni.

    The thing that I most find incredibly mind bending is how much it would mean to the person meeting the famous, and how little it would mean to the famous person. That previous sentence is meant to sound genuine not derogatory ha. But you get me.

    As this is Stephens’s forum I will save the embarrassment of making this personal to meeting him and well just called the famous person, “the fameiod”. Sounds almost robotic.

    *Just to tangent I noticed I said Stephens and not Stephen Fry, as if I actually knew him. Incredible isn’t it… I think though that is because when a famous person is more in touch with their “fans” (cringing for some reason at that word) through websites, blogs, etc. it almost makes them seem as if you do know them. A small downside in my view compared to the happiness it will give people, but that is a different tale for a different picnic. *

    If I was to ever meet a fameiod, I would no doubt be polite, a short conversation would pass and if I was brave enough to ask for an autograph that too. What is more likely to happen is I would look at them from a far distance, shy away, and kick myself later during the day, but lets move on!

    I would regurgitate this meeting to anyone I knew, to my family, to my friends, from the cat next door to the lamp post I almost walked into from bragging so much. However the famous person would forget it almost instantaneously by comparison. NOW, I want to make it clear that I find this perfectly normal, but it just BENDS MY MIND! It is incredible how much something can mean to someone and so little to another, (again don’t take that sentence wrongly) it’s hard to even fully explain what I mean.

    I guess we are all famous to someone, by comparison the other day a friend of mine from school asked me if I remembered an incident that clearly meant allot to him. I however, had totally forgot about it, lied that I had remembered every detail and walked away feeling some strange shame.

    I wonder how I would cope, I wonder how I would feel with strange people wondering up to me when I am in no mood to look at my own feet let alone converse in a friendly happy manner. I think I would be great full for it, but wouldn’t all together like it.

    It is a strange thing to be a “fan” of someone…the more I write about this the more I wonder what a “fan” is. I wonder how I can be-friend or I suppose be-fan is the best way to put it, someone who I have never met or am very unlikely to ever meet. Never the less, purely from a observer stand point I think it is still quite possible to show admiration for the way someone chooses to live there life and then from this reflect upon ones own life…

    Maybe one day I’ll get a larger slice of this fame pie and find out all my wonderings, however I am sure there will be a 1000 more waiting to fill their place.

    Hope all is good everyone

  23. Part_Troll says:

    As much as I read and think “hehe what an arse”, I just know deep down that I would be the “it must get so annoying when…” type.

    Aglet? You really do learn something new every day xD

    For the record, I am also very bad at handling compliments. I don’t know if I ever poopooed them to the person from whom they came, but I know that I get generally quite embarrassed, avoid eye contact (I usually look at the floor) and grunt something that sounds something remotely like “thanks”, which I guess must sound equally as rude.

  24. ginj says:

    I have just discovered you within the last two years or so, and I must admit that I delight in learning more about you through your own words. This “blessay” was very interesting and entertaining reading. I look forward to reading some of your other blogs.

    It’s funny, I am much too nervous (shy?) to approach a famous person in public. I actually try very hard to blend into the background at all times. Yet, thanks to the anonymity of the internet, I feel free to tell you how much I admire you. The same internet that has contributed to your much deserved fame.

  25. joshuacrime says:

    I used to have this “famous person syndrome” bug when I was younger, but it appears that some people lose it over time and some never do. I wonder why that happens, but we’re all snowflakes, so your reason for keeping this fascination for the famous would be different from the next person.

    My youthful fascinations came from two different directions. Since I’m a musician, I truly admired and emulated (musically) the skilled and unique musicians I listened to and were exposed to by friends. Nothing in the world could have convinced me that I wanted nothing more to be sitting in a jazz club someday blowing amazing lines like George Benson. I wanted to, well, not be that guy, but someone that a guy like that would respect if he ever heard me play.

    The other direction was purely hormonal and adolescent, and most boys suffered from this problem. I don’t think it mattered that I had lurid fantasies about some woman in a movie (or in a nudie magazine) as much as it did some of the more lovely girls in my classes in school. They were, in my mind, just as famous and unattainable as the woman on the movie screen.

    But that also passes over time. The visceral experience of having a bucket of testosterone dumped into my guts is not lost on most men (or women for that matter), but it is now just a visual thing to enjoy.

    Over time, though, I figured out about the nature of power through my dilettante’s pursuit of historical knowledge. It occurred to me that most of the people who attained power received it from those who wished to give it freely and willingly just as much, if not more, than those that take it by law or by chaos. At that point, I realized that I was only doing what Stephen said earlier, and that it’s our fault for giving these people celebrity.

    From that point on, I suppose I didn’t like relinquishing my own power to those I didn’t even know, and that was my guiding force from that moment. They didn’t deserve the power, however minimal it was, that I was able to offer them. Being an actor, author, musician, politician, or whatever, is just a job. It just so happens that there is a media machine that perpetuates it to make money, and that is truly where the power transfer occurs.

    That being said, Mr. Fry is one of the few “slebs” that I admire tremendously, and although it would be an honor for me to meet such an erudite man, I would probably not approach him even if I did see him on the street. He’s got stuff to do, and so do I.

    Thanks for being such an interesting and talented man and allowing us to share in it from time to time.

  26. nonoyesyes says:

    Having the purpose to bring laughter to the world, well that has to be one of the great purposes! For life is a sad, often overwhelming experience, and as far as I am concerned, it’s hats off, in great celebration to the comedian! And I will forever be most thankful to my daughter for bringing Stephen Fry to my attention! ~ this is to say, she had requested `A Little Bit of Fry And Laurie’ on her wish list for Christmas….We managed to get the entire box-set – Via DVD (imagine quote marks!) A Little Bit of Fry and Laurie ~ I found something immediately precious, witty, joyful, deeply funny, charming, logical, adorable, fascinating, spontanious, artful, communicative, vibrant and simply MARVELOUS…..
    I had not previously seen the show, and as we now have the entire box set….. I have found a whole new world of laughter, and sheer amazement as I witness the level of talent shown there…. I frankly adored the show; both Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie… Oh My God! They light up the `stage’ light up the camera…. COMMUNICATE with such pizzazz!
    And, let’s face it: they are gorgeous!~ Beautiful really…
    But up till now, I had not viewed it while thinking with
    “And what of FAME?” as a mirror of life such as it might be for those whose lives ARE in the limelight…
    Now when I was a young girl, I wanted rather desparately to dance on the stage. I was to get the chance when I was about 12 years old, to do two solo dances (one was a “fast tap” and the other a song and dance routine) I LOVED everything about it, but really recognised that FAME is not what I was seeking…. had it been what I was seeking, I could have continued on, as I was quite good at dancing!
    I am not sure that I wasn’t seeking acceptance, in fact, looking back, I feel quite sure I was seeking acceptance!
    But I was not really wanting to be famous, and probably just as well; I had other purposes in life, which became more apparent as I got older.
    However, on the subject of fame, I do have quite a few opinions! For instance I truly believe that it can bring a deep sense of lonliness…. and one of unreality too.
    Fame has a big price on it’s head ~ and sometimes, it can rob the brilliant person who has the great talents that make them famous, it can rob them of their identities somehow; or take from the the basic right to exist as themselves; quite freely, as they are often hounded, and written about in the most inhuman ways (by the press) who are paid to present ‘a story’
    So the privacy of the person is sort of taken away, and those that take it away, seem to have the illusion that it is okay to do so, as they are NOT allowed to keep anything of themselves in any kind of private `vault’ NO! Can’t have THAT! NO one must give ALL of themselves as a price to fame….and lose forever the precious right to simply exsist as who they are!
    I am sure too, that fame can be quite a shock to those who become famous, because how can you possibly know beforehand; what to expect, really?!
    Reading the above blog was absolutely fascinating and marvelous….. a real snapshot of life in the jaws of fame; how it can effect the day to day existence so much so that there seems to be a weird kind of unreality about it all.
    However, that is NOT really the case…. to me, it is simply that by and large, folk tend to forget the respect and reserve that should be granted to those who spend their lives bringing us entertainment…..
    As a very first ‘blog’ response, I hope I have written in such a way that it makes sense!
    Whatever else you are doing; to the man Himself….. Mr. Stephen Fry: I salute you!
    Carry on, sir!
    (((cheers))) (-_-)

  27. diana says:

    Lovely blessed essay! To through my two cents/schillings in…I’ve worked in and around entertainment for a decade or two, and have learned that “slebs” are people/artists with all the same foibles as the rest of humanity. And I completely agree that it is the rest of humanity that gives the “slebs” the fame and power, much like religion. Funny, isn’t it, that fame tends to change from culture to culture similar to the changing of gods (…except for Russia..?)?
    Stephen, thank you for this blog and forum and your couriosity in all things…
    Continued success with all that you do!

  28. M.K. says:

    Brilliant post, Mr Fry! I’d like to add one thing or two which popped up into my mind while reading:

    1) Speaking about the Beatles (“who knew what it was to be famous” as somebody wrote posts ago) I remember when George Harrison died somebody I knew said: “Well, I don’t feel anything at all. I would have felt sorry if he were a working class man!”. Amazing, isn’t it. As if death could choose a sweeter way to die, deliberately for celebrities.

    2) About photograph taking: one day I was quietly walking when I noticed there was a woman running in my direction, open arms, who was apparently telling me how she adores me and my songs. While I was wondering how she could have listened to my demos well locked in my pc, I turned my head and she was hugging a well known singer, who looked very tired to me – and annoyed- he was, you know, something like a few steps from home. As she went away, I told the singer something like: “Sorry Mr, I haven’t recognized you” “Wish you wouldn’t have” he murmured. And yet somebody else was asking him to take a picture. I felt sorry for him.

    Oh, and by the way your pleasant prose is something Mr Brown-I-don’t-know-the-meaning-of-metaphors can’t buy.

    Best wishes,
    Meltea (“I mean next to nothing in Italy” – Well, I guess that “next to” is me)

  29. Mariu says:

    “As for myself, well, I mean next to nothing in Italy…”

    You are something (special) for me…. :)

  30. nonoyesyes says:

    I have already written upon this `blessay’ but this afternoon; by pure coincidence, after realising you were in Sydney (Bondi and Sydney Harbour etc) over the weekend, I turned on the old tv and there you were once more!
    On an episode of “Parkinson” dating from around 1999 me thinks…
    Anyway along side you were Robert Lindsay, and another chap whose name escapes me!
    And there was `Parky’ who decided to interview you ~ NOT on your obvious talents, but rather on what you weren’t so talented with…. i.e. SPORTS!
    I really enjoyed your shared memories of the era during school days (oh woe is me: how I detested `sports’ too because we didn’t actually DO sports…we had to dress in these terrible green ‘bloomers’ which looked a fright; and try and walk with as much dignity as possible (with our bear feat) across the entire school yard with all seniour year windows looking down upon the hapless young lasses who were forced to parade just to get to the ‘oval’ where the sadistic ‘physical Ed teacher had to run something like 50 million laps of that god damed oval till you were a perspiring heap…. YEAH! EXERCISE in place of sport…… woohoooooo!
    (NOT) anyway I digress….
    Your witt had me in STITCHES and Parky and guests as well!
    And then, Robert Lindsay caught you in a conspiracy to get you to SING …(after yr rendition of your experiences with that Hungarian Hypnotist ….. something something B….CH…(haha!)
    which was the ‘trigger’ for you to SING, without any ill effects (such as stage fight or was it sweating and feeling ill) anyway it apparently worked…… (congrats!)

    But what surprised ME was…. after they coerced you to sing right there and then, why Mr. Fry… I do believe you have been trying to kid us into believing you cannot sing….
    I heard you; yes I did…. I heard you sing and you did it very well and it sounded really great!
    [Sorry I forgot the name of the song....- I'd never win a competition that required good memory would I?!]

    What a privilege it was to see that interview…

  31. nonoyesyes says:

    This seems to be the place where I feel most ‘at home’ haha!
    I have come back here, because the `twitter’ that I joined to ‘stay in touch’ ~ long story short; I’m not in touch! haha!
    Oh dear… that gives me away, doesn’t it?!
    Hmmmmm……………… I guess I am not the full quid I thought I was because I was gonna give that competition a shot, and when I saw I had to write L’s in roman numerals or some such
    ……………. my brain turned off, and jumped out the window!
    So I won’t be entering the competition (she said, with a sad little face at the window) but I thought it might be time for me to say goodbye because I think I am chiefly talking to myself really….
    I can’t say it hasn’t been quite a thrill to BE HERE at all…
    As I became an overnight fan of yours Stephen (IF you are there that is, or if you might actually read this one day)

    Thank you for being such a wonderful talent-on-legs type of creative inspiring, sort of larger than life (in spirit I am talking here) and OUT THERE and making it happen….

    I am sure you inspire lots of people and you sure inspired me ~ I got the best workout with my stomach muscles (as I laughed myself into stitches) and I really love your witt and sense of humour!

    So… I will say cheerio, and I hope you continue to have huge successes in everything you do… (I KNOW you will!)

    nonoyesyes (and ‘nahatsu’ from twitter)

    ((-_-)) xx

  32. nonoyesyes says:

    Hello! I know I said I was not coming back (don’t really like the feeling I’m talking to myself haha!) but I simply had to!
    Do you know, my daughter had found your wonderful documentaries regarding bi polar (manic depression) and watch all 12 episodes.
    She then coaxed me to come and see these too, which I did.
    Now my daughter had been very badly bullied while in primary school (the schooling prior to high school) and then again at high school…she gained an awful lot of weight suddenly, and had also begun to suffer from Fear of vomit is also known as emetophobia, which later on was to lead to a stomach disorder.
    She became very severely depressed and could not rid herself of her anxieties.
    So even though she had graduated (2007) and entered the work force, these black moods would trip her up. The funny thing is, that she is destined to enter the world of show business, having discovered a natural reservoir of talent, and it struck me, after seeing your documentary on depression etc, that she had a real interest in your point of view and personal experiences.
    I found myself absolutely amazed at how you had coped with the depressive moods, and am deeply and most sincerely thankful, that you sir, are a very compassionate, and kind hearted person.
    You did your documentary in such a way as to bring the idea of ‘mental illness’ forward, into the present as it were, and to do it in such a way as to bring some understanding into it too.
    Your interviews with those who had suffered from it too, were absolutely eye opening, and a rare insight is given your audience.
    I can’t thank you enough for doing this, you have given my girl a perspective on such things as highs and lows, of black moods and so on, and in relation to the world that you are part of, the world of show business.
    She has come away with the recognition that while she does get upset about things when confronted with those who would invalidate her, etc, she is in full control of her thoughts, and has an awareness of that too, which led her to realise that even though she might get black moods, she is able to be cause over them.
    I was immensely impressed that you had shared your world with your public, and find that you are very worthy of the most validating comments we can muster!
    Thank you SO much for this Stephen, and I truly hope too, that you are doing very well with dealing with that dark patch that sometimes comes along to ruin what is surely a very successful life!
    Add to this now, the incredible actions you have taken to ease the burden for all those who suffer from this rather tragic ill.
    Hats off to you, fine sir ~ I salute you; and wish you well!
    Regards, and my very best wishes to you.
    ((-_-)) xx

  33. soodeebee says:

    God, this reminds me of the time, years ago, that I accosted poor old Gryff Rhys Jones in Edinburgh. I chased the poor sod half way down Princess Street, only to tell him (when I finally caught up with him) “You’re Gryff Rhys Jones!”
    He was very nice about it but, as time has gone by, I realise that he may have already have worked that one out for himself …

  34. Just found you on Twitter. Loved this post (like fine wine, it’s aged well).

    If you’re ever looking for a variation on the John Cleese-suggested theme, I’ve found that responding to a compliment with “Why how kind of you to say…” tells the complimenter that you’re thankful AND that you think he/she is a nice kind person to boot. :)

  35. sickoffashion says:

    I’m not sure it’s true that everyone searches for fame. I know people (myself included) who are absolutely mortified at the thought of people knowing who they are.

    I personally have a severe pathological shyness. I find it difficult to even make eye contact with others, and as I am currently in High School, my peers aren’t precisely understanding. However, the only thing that I’ve ever wanted to do is act. I don’t want to be famous though, or even rich. If I could scrape a living and be doing what I love, I would be the happiest person in the world.

    I suppose it all depends on the person; some want fame without having to work for it, and some want to work for it without gaining fame.

  36. Tasha says:

    This is a test… I spoke over on yr blog about the new T shirt and it disappeared: twice?!

  37. daniel roberts says:

    Despite being laughed at in my French lesson, by my teacher i might add, for requesting to watch QI on youtube, I continue to love your work. Thank you Sir Fry.

  38. ImeldaLumos says:

    Thank you Stephen Fry! For, firstly, the insightful and shimmering blog. You’re an inspiration to me, when writing, thinking and applying some of the wisdom you supply us with in Real Life. I let my apologies emerge for taking up blank space with words aimed at my own experience and Life, but it has such an un-evasive connection to You.
    You made me see the possibilities and the Deep Love one can feel for a language. I’m Swedish, and you’ve improved the English of mine, and I can in the present spend my English lessons reading Sherlock Holmes books, instead of filling papers with grammar rules. Although: Prepositions is a sharp stab somewhere nasty.
    You altered my view on Life and make one feel better, better than I sometimes deserve, but, with most certainty, your words shall also make me drop down again to soiled asphalt.
    You’ll not read this, I’m certain. And you’ve planted, even the tiniest believe, that I actually will be able to convert the Future.

  39. sheepchrist says:

    Languishing in my second-hand executive swivel, I contemplated fame whilst removing blue fluff from my navel with a silver plated fish knife.
    It appears to me that fame naturally arising from ones acts, deeds, or endeavours seems positively warm and cuddly.

    However the deliberate search for fame is quite another thing. Those who seek fame tend to behave like the penis

    Without higher brain function one would expect this apenditure to follow orders, to comply with mental instruction. As we all know it does not. The penis does however act in a wilful manner and will erect itself without the owner’s permission. The penis seeks orifice, a hole, a circled hand, a honey dew melon with a scoop taken out. The more desperate the penis is the less choosy it becomes about what orifice it finds itself in.

    Like many seekers of fame desperation to find it ultimately leads to the wrong hole, the ongoing court case and oodles of bad press coverage

    The best advice I can offer is that if you feel the need to seek fame – don’t be a dick about it

  40. lawgirl says:

    This was such a wonderfully interesting read. Speaking as a non-famous person, it’s such a dichotomy when you see someone famous whose work actually has actually really meant something to you. (This has only happened to me once, thank God.) On the one hand you’re having an OMG I CAN’T BELIEVE IT’S HIM/HER!!! moment and on the other hand, you are trying desperately to think of something remotely reasonable yet able to satisfactorily convey your appreciation of their work to him/her. It really is impossible, so we either a) make complete asses out of ourselves via cliche comments, or b) stammer on. I loved the “It will give you bees” Tim Curry story referenced by a commenter. Exactly.

    And I have to say that as we can now on this site read the twitterings that are coming to you (thank you, BTW) it all makes total sense now. I am really surprised (more like a genuine O_O) at the things people say to you. They are not really mean-spirited, but complete strangers really will say just about anything to you, won’t they? Good heavens. It really is utterly fascinating.

    Anyway, your blog is an absolute joy and I hope I never have to try to convey that to you in a 5 second, surprise encounter.

  41. daveross says:

    Stephen, I am a newcomer to your blog if not a newcomer to your work. Is there anyone left on the planet who hasn’t heard of Stephen Fry? You are indeed famous and will undoubtedly view fame very differently to those of us that have never experienced that moment when a complete stranger looks then looks again while saying “It is isn’t it? It’s Stephen Fry. Look I don’t want to bother you but…..” while you continue taking a piss, buying a paper or walking the dog (do you have a dog?) Anyway, I yearn for that fame despite no obvious talent so I don’t deserve fame, do you? Probably not but you have it anyway and will have it forever. My desire for fame leads me to Blog with WordPress daveross.wordpress.com and I measure it by views, how sad, my record being 300 in one day for a poem about Sebastien Chabal.
    My final thoughts for now are a request for you to fulfill my other dream of seeing Russell Brand play Harry Flashman in a film series. I can see him in his breeches with military whiskers as I type. It would only work with your screenplay adapting George MacDonald Frasers novels.

  42. sweetlip says:

    really nice to read this – what fame is like for one impinged by it [never heard a discursive as such before..]. But, course, my own little interest is the non-famee perspective! I reckon, from this side, its [the reactive, whatever -hostile, obsequious, fawning, ugly, or just low-status sad] its, mostly just a deal where those with no real access to the ‘means of production’ slaver over those whom they perceive as having, just such, an access. Its about power and the money stuff implied. Those locked down in flattened lives of endless chore, with no conceivable escape from the lowly tiers of the foodchain, gasp and splutter [and even empty their spleen, apparently..] when confronted with the other sentient beings who escaped to further up the foodchain [ie. got richer/attained stature]. It is just about this. There is something sewn into the human experience of toiling away and never stepping one jot further up the ladder that spawns intense reconciliation-with-powerlessness issues. And vast masses of a great unwashed have lives where this is the experientia. And every one of them think they are special. Nothing in their daily life tells them this is so. Confronted with anyone elevated out of the grime that is mindless, non-remunerative, grinding toil… no accident that newsagents have the displays of fame-pulp-magazines right next to the lottery tickets sections. We all need to dream. Of being freed. Clearly ‘being famous’ and etc is no picnic, freedom is hardly given to any of us as a gift. But for those locked in a prismatic of powerlessness every day of their working life, with the concomitant lack of ever coming across any real cash -it, just is, too much to bear! I say, its not just the ‘fame’ that ‘electrifies’ the great unwashed personnel -its the $$$’s component… Introduce a great unwashed plebeian to a billionaire. Introduce him/her to madonna. Be the same result: slavish adoration, genuflecting, cuteness, a slow drift to resentment, attitude, boldness, belligerence, and finally, hostility. Oh, who knew! Guess, its just all fun and games [till the blue collar worker gets her damn fingers on a keyboard] still Karl’d be proud…

  43. EllieK says:

    Hi Stephen! I have just registered on your site in order to let you know how much I enjoy reading your blessays, particularly this one, with all the fascinating insights (and warnings!) about fame and slebdom.
    Please do not feel you need to make your blessays shorter…I am pretty certain that the more you write, the merrier we all shall be :-)

  44. Beepola says:

    As the son of a famous person your paragraph about friends is the first time I have read anything that even acknowledges us ‘peripherals’. Thank you for saying it so eloquently.

    Only a couple of weeks ago I was pushed out of the way by an avaricious professional autograph hunter seeking my father’s attention. I’m no wimp, either. I’m middle-aged and built like the proverbial outhouse. The police described me once with the single word ‘Prop’. I’m 6′ and a big burly bloke. But I was pushed so hard by this rude and self-serving man that I stumbled and nearly fell. Where were we to attract this gross attention? We were at a funeral.

    I love my dad, but more than hate his fame. I loathe and detest what it has done to him and to us and, by proxy, to me. I’ve endured it for a very long time. Several decades. I didn’t choose it. And I certainly don’t want it. As a rule we don’t do anything together in public because of it. We can’t go for a simple drink, father and son. I’ve never been to the pub with my Dad. I miss, and have missed out on, those simple things. Sometimes we reluctantly try again. And true to form, last time we went for a meal out for his Grandson’s birthday we were interrupted constantly. All of the techniques you decribe were used, including the hastily concocted connection. Very difficult to deal with that one. Oh and geography’s another one, “weren’t you in xyz recently. We used to have cottage there, ‘Barn Doors’, do you know it?” We all sit there, lemon like, or trying to make conversation among oursleves while this stranger hovers, with our food going cold or melting while someone we don’t know and will never see again interrupts a private family event. So we don’t do it if we don’t have to. It is so intrusive. And so now the next generation gets not to do the normal family things with their Grandfather. Why? Why them?

    What I can never get over is the sheer bollocks of these people. They would put a hand on your arm as you were raising your first glass of water to your parched lips after eight days in the desert if it served their crushing desire to be able to boast ‘I met that star, you know him off….’

    I am really proud of my Dad. But I wish more than any single thing in my life he wasn’t famous. It is a chalice steeped in and weeping poison.

  45. Donomacs says:

    Very interesting. I had an experience of what fame might be like. I lived in Savannah Georgia where my accent alone could make a young girl giggle and blush (OK, one, maybe two). But people were interested in me, where was I from? what was I doing there?, did I know the Queen? I think one even asked for a photo. Point is I was a ‘someone’, or so I thought, and I found myself turning on a ridiculous Hugh Grant impersonation when I wanted to impress. I am not trying to compare myself to someone actually famous but I did get a buzz from the attention and I miss it now I am back in the UK. Of course I had to open my mouth to get a reaction, my casual attire of string vest, braces and knotted hanky were not enough to give away my Britishness. Being pestered none stop must be tough.

    I haven’t the courage to approach anybody famous. I attended an after-show party once (ooh, get me) at which I rather uncontrollable shouted (whilst pointing) “Branson” at Sir Richard Branson, not sure he noticed as it was busy, but I think his wife did – ah, the perils of a free bar and someone out of his depth.

    Anyhow, good to read about fame from someone famous, it’s the other side of the story we ‘Civilians’ rarely hear.

  46. FryQI says:

    Dear,dear Stephen (huge sigh)
    I have just read,and read again your letter to your younger self.
    I can’t honestly remember when I last felt so over whelmed with emotion.I cried for most of it,feeling for the boy that was,yet so so happy to read that, the present day you,is happy with his life.I do hope this true as out of most people you deserve this more than most.You have never thrust your sexuality in the face of the public,nor have you hidden it,and quite rightly so.To be in love is a wonderful thing,to love someone else is truly a joy,but to love who you are and the life you live must be the most wonderful,amazing emotion in the world,I wish I could feel like that,even if only on rare occasion.I have often sat and thought about you and you life and wondered,hoped and prayed that someone like you wasn’t lonely or sad,there are a few characters in this world,who, to be perfectly honest with you,I hope are lonely,but these are the peadophiles,rapists and terrorists of this earth.
    So I’m writing to tell you that your letter moved me incredibly,and I hope that I never have to think of such a,warm,kind considerate,funny,brilliant,etc etc human being as yourself feeling lonely anymore.
    (p.s,not that you would,but…You know where to find me and I would come running to lend the proverbial shoulder to weep on.
    Yours as always,
    Zoe FryQI

  47. FryQI says:

    ………….You’ll have to excuse the grammer in above post as I’m a little bit wet round the eye area!! :( but :) too xx

  48. Lord Rockingham says:

    Just watched Stephen’s wonderful verbal demolishing of the whole tawdry MPs expenses shanannigins. Quite right too, we have a tabloid press that positively deify footballers earning obscene amounts of money -completely out of scale to the man on the terraces-yet get out of our pram over MPs. When exactly were they ever a quasi-religious order?

  49. ynattirbwad says:

    I guess dealing with Fame is similar to dealing with being a mom (especially during childbearing years)–
    The photographers are like the kids constantly hounding you for food, attention, anything to make them happy.
    Friends are interesting… mostly conversations with three year olds, and then one sided conversations with older kids–only one syllable answers to your questions.
    And the comments from some people–“Isn’t time you had a baby?” “Are you pregnant yet?”
    And then the CONSTANT questions when I am pregnant– “Are you still pregnant?” “How much longer?” “You look like you are going to pop!” What am I to say to that? What kind of replies do I have? Every day I get those comments for nine months. And then after that… more questions.
    At least you don’t have someone touching your belly, and THEN asking… “Is it okay if I feel your baby?”

  50. nonoyesyes says:

    Next month it will be a year since I first wrote on your “Let Fame” blog! Amazing how time has leapt forward!
    Today I buy the Sydney Morning Herald and tip out the television pgm for the week “The Guide”… and what do I find?!
    An artical written by Michael Idato, with an interview between yourself and Mr Idato. This interesting interview covers such things as the difference between who you are and who you become when “on stage” as it were, the series Kingdom which just aired on Australian televison this weekend and some interesting insights into the effects of fame via the well worn track of Twitter…..
    I was deeply moved by what came out during the interview.
    It made me realise that being on Twitter must be an enormous pressure to “perform” on many different levels because it includes the personal stuff too, which is left alone comparatively when “on stage”.

    That this would begin to interrupt the peaceful existance of one such as yourself becomes clear to see.
    I almost felt guilty for wanting to follow you on twitter ~ after all, you are the reason in total of why I went onto twitter in the first place, and I sincerely doubt I’d be `into’ it at all if you weren’t there!
    Having said that…. it does make me extraordinarily unhappy to think that this twitter experience might be causing such stress on your fine self.

    I know it’s a Moral Sin to come here and write to you but I have no other way of getting things off my chest when it comes to such things!
    Its not like I have email addresses or whatever!

    So I hope you won’t mind too much that I have voiced my thoughts here.
    I suppose it would possibly be even logical under the circumstances if you were to give up twitter for your own sake! Survival and all that!

    I will say goodbye here and try very hard to not bother you any more with writing upon your blog page. I know it’s a bit of a cheek and I fully expect this to be deleted El Pronto too.

    Goodbye dear Stephen Fry of Twitter personage… I have enjoyed the contact so much and wish you all the very best of everything from here on out….

    Love nahatsu

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