Hugh Laurie's Favorite Avenue 5 Moments Come From The Series' Colorful Insults

If you haven't started watching the HBO series "Avenue 5," 2023 is a great time to start. The absurdist comedy was created by Armando Iannucci ("Veep"), and it's a riot. "Avenue 5" is set 40 years in the future when civilian space travel has become big business. A huge spaceliner owned by billionaire (and Elon Musk analog) Herman Judd (Josh Gad) is flying thousands of people on a short luxury cruise. During the largest yoga class in space, events knock the ship out of orbit, meaning that it won't return to Earth for years. At the moment, that number is eight years, but that could change at any time. 

The guests see a crew that is made up of actors like Captain Ryan Clark (Hugh Laurie), who is there so Judd and the passengers won't have to look at anyone who is "unattractive," while the actual crew is hidden away. That includes the chief engineer who is killed during the crisis, leaving Billie (Lenora Crichlow), the second engineer, and the clueless Ryan to figure out what to do next. Helping out are Spike (Ethan Phillips), a former Canadian astronaut who is obsessed with sex of all kinds; Herman Judd, who is a disaster; his no-nonsense and brutally mean assistant Iris (Suzy Nakamura); Rav (Nikki Amuka-Bird), head of mission control; and Matt (Zach Woods), the Head of Customer Relations who is deeply weird, sometimes comforting, but always full of the oddest ideas. 

Laurie and Iannucci spoke with Collider back in October 2022 about the series, with Laurie explaining where his favorite moments on the series come from. 

'I don't know why, but that made me laugh for days'

If you want to get an idea of the sort of comedy this is, here is an example. After being in space for this long, the ship is in danger from radiation. They deal with that by surrounding the ship with human waste (something that is actually backed up by science). They light it up to make the floating poop cloud all pretty, and people start seeing religious figures in it. Also floating in the cloud are the coffins and bodies (well, parts of them) of the people killed in the accident. It's all very silly and very, very funny. 

Laurie said it's the smaller things that really get him laughing, though, particularly the insults. "Some of my favorite moments really come from insults," Laurie said. 

"The evermore ornate way that all these characters have of insulting each other, is just consistently entertaining to me. I don't even remember if it's my line, but there's a line that's describing Matt as having a face like a haunted pond. I don't know why, but that made me laugh for days, after I read it. I just thought that was so beautiful. The evermore intricate ways that we could find of taking out our frustration on each other, which is primarily verbal, are quite fun. There are occasional moments of violence, but it's mostly verbal. It's mostly emotional. And I do find that endlessly entertaining."

Do not drink liquids while watching

Matt is one of the stranger characters who take a bit of explanation. Have you ever met someone who doesn't seem to have a filter for their creepy or sweetly bizarre thoughts? You know, the ones who get odder and odder the more you get to know them but are so endearing that you just shake your head? That's totally Matt. He starts out doing his job and comforting everyone else, but as he begins to become unhinged like everyone else, you realize how strange he truly is. Some of the things he says might suggest someone who should be under a doctor's care, but your brain just goes, "Aww, Matt." 

While I would argue that Laurie constantly switching back and forth between a British and American accent (and doing it really well) is the height of the comedy, there are so many things to choose from. 

Friends, I implore you to give this show a try if you haven't yet. No other show has made me laugh so hard that I had to wipe iced tea off of my monitor from a spit take. True story and it happened twice in a row. 

"Avenue 5" is currently airing on HBO and streaming on HBO Max.