Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Stephen Fry Visits NYC

British comedian, actor, playwright, and author Stephen Fry graced New York City and the Overlook Press office with his warm and magnetic presence last Tuesday, January 24. We invited Fry to the States to promote his newest autobiography, THE FRY CHRONICLES, a witty and brutally honest stunner that we’ve praised here before. Yet the novelty of having the real life Jeeves from the comic series Jeeves and Wooster was not lost on this P. G. Wodehouse-loving lot. (Did we mention our office is on Wooster Street? Fry was destined to become an Overlooker!).

Despite a morning and afternoon of back-to-back radio and TV interviews, Fry took great delight in spending the evening with a packed house at Barnes and Noble, TriBeCa. The applause of three hundred people filled the normally hushed bookstore as the audience greeted him with cheers and a standing ovation.

Prior to a two-hour meet and greet in which Fry signed books, photos, an iPad, and graciously posed for a portrait, he charmed the audience by recalling numerous childhood anecdotes, gushing over his literary idol, Oscar Wilde, and offering more sage wisdom and uproarious laughs than could be contained to this limited space.

Fry revealed that his love of language and literature began at the tender age of 10. While watching a black and white rendition of The Importance of Being Earnest, he became enamored by the way in which language could be manipulated into something graceful and moving. So passionate was he to discover this playwright that he biked 12 miles each way to the nearest library. It was at that library that Fry encountered his idol whom he later portrayed in the acclaimed Wilde--and so began his destiny as a linguistic master.

To say that Fry writes the way he speaks and speaks the way he writes is a compliment of the highest order. With jaunty prose, striking intellect, and an endearing verbosity, he reveals himself through his speech and written word to be the most genuine of gentleman, holding nothing—not even his insecurities—from the public eye.

During the evening, we were able to capture a few choice moments representative of the contagious laughter, sincerity, and brilliance that permeated the room. In these clips, Stephen Fry speaks about his transition from theater to comedy during his time at Cambridge, his discovery of Oscar Wilde and passion for writing, and the importance of intelligence and moral qualities. We hope you enjoy as much as we did. Cheers!

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