Sandi Toksvig collapses into laughter over hilarious ‘lesbians’ QI mix-up

A side by side image of Sandi Toksvig and Susan Calman from the British comedy panel show 'QI'

Legendary comedian Sandi Toksvig tried valiantly to hold laughter over a contestant hilariously mishearing the words lesbian and laser beams on QI.

The TikTok channel @theqielves, which is run by the team behind the BBC quiz show, unearthed a years-old clip from QI (short for Quite Interesting for any non-Brits wondering). The TV show is known for its witty banter and for featuring Toksvig, who went down in history as the first female presenter of a British mainstream TV comedy panel show.

In a snippet from a 2019 episode, Toksvig tried to explain a fun fact about laser beams and why humans cannot see the narrow beams of light “side-on at all”.

But before she could finish her sentence, Holly Walsh, an English comedian, chimed in: “Did you say lesbians or laser beams?”


From QI, Series Q, Ep. 7, ‘Quests: Part II” with #sanditoksvig #alandavies #susancalman #joelycett & #hollywalsh#qi #qielves #facts #laser

♬ original sound – Quite Interesting

The audience and panellists immediately burst out in laughter. Sandi Toksvig stopped mid-gesture, with her hands still in the air, and looked down to seemingly fight back laughter.

As the camera panned to the other panellists, Susan Calman, a Scottish comedian and TV presenter, was practically rolling on the floor laughing.

“A Freudian slip that one,” Alan Davies quipped.

“That’s correct,” Toksvig jokingly responded. “You cannot see lesbians from side-on.”

Getting in on the joke, Calman, who is an out lesbian, proposed an experiment on the set of QI.

“I’ll go here and see how many lesbians you can see on the stage,” Calman joked as she turned to the side.

After a second, she popped back up and faced the audience, saying “I was here all the time”.

Once everyone calmed down a bit, Sandi Toksvig clarified that people can’t see a laser beam – not a lesbian – side on because the “light is so concentrated” in “one direction”.

She explained some of the light “would have to be travelling towards your eye” which happens if it “goes through dust or fog” because that “scatters some of the light”.

The people of TikTok loved the laughable gaffe, and the QI clip has garnered over 50,000 likes on the video-sharing app. Several people jokingly declared they will now be known as “laser beams” instead of lesbians.