Creator Armando Iannucci's Favorite Avenue 5 Line Is One That Hugh Laurie Improvised

If you thought the glittering poop cloud around an interplanetary tourist vessel in season 1 of the HBO series "Avenue 5" was funny, season 2 had a lot to show you. It went from wildly funny and a personal favorite to completely outrageous (in the best way). 

"Avenue 5" is set 40 years in the future on a ship full of tourists. An accident means their trip of several weeks will take them eight years. Food is down to eels who are dying in the tank (RIP Eel Patrick Harris), and the only hope is a space station that is full of cannibals and pedophiles. 

If you're a fan of comedies like "What We Do in the Shadows," you must check out "Avenue 5." Creator Armando Iannucci ("Veep") and star Hugh Laurie ("House") spoke with Collider in October 2022, where fans learned about Iannucci's favorite joke of the season and Laurie's thoughts on how game the actors are to improv, no matter how weird it gets. 

Friends, it gets weird

It's all about improv

It would be hard for me to pick a favorite line, but Iannucci certainly has one. It's from season 2, episode 3. The crew has been visiting with the people they believe are scientists on a space station to get help with their eel tank when one of them realizes that this is, in fact, a prison ship. These people have done some very, very bad things, some of them involving beagles. (It's best not to ask.) Iannucci explains that he likes to give the cast a chance to try new things and that he likes to be surprised by the improv. He says of his favorite moment: 

"For me, the funniest line is in episode 3 when Billie [Lenora Crichlow] says, 'Of course, it's a terrible idea, brackets, is it thought?' And Ryan says something like, 'Yes, it is, brackets, f*** yes!' That was just Hugh, on the day. That wasn't in the script, but it's a golden light in the episode."

It happens at the 22:55 mark if you want to check it out. The beauty of the show is that you can't tell what is improvised and what isn't. Every moment feels unscripted, but the story couldn't possibly be. I mean, you can't improv the idea of a cannibal with 36 thumbs in his basement joining a spaceship cooking show, but every line feels like it's happening in the moment more than any other show I can think of. 

'They'll try anything'

Part of the reason that's the case is that the "Avenue 5" cast is fearless. It's something Laurie says is a big part of how this all works. He tells Collider: 

"I don't think any of the actors are, in any sense, squeamish about what they would allow their character to do. From time to time, they might go, 'Oh, I feel like that doesn't quite make sense with what I did in the previous scene. Can I try something slightly different?' That might happen. But I don't think any of those actors are prim, in any way. I don't think anyone's gonna go, 'Oh, I couldn't possibly. Oh, no, goodness me, I couldn't possibly say that.'"

Considering some of the lines in the trailer alone, that's pretty clear. "I think they're a very game, sporting bunch," Laurie continued. "They'll try anything.[...] There's a wonderful spirit of, 'Let's go for it. What's the next step beyond that? Okay, we've got that, but can we go one further? And then, can we go one further than that?' That's part of the fun of it, really."

By the way, the fun of it also includes the fact that camels and fruit have disappeared from the world, there are two Presidents of the United States (one is an A.I. creation from corporations), Daniel Radcliffe has had an unfortunate "accident," and passengers worship a vision of the late Pope John Paul II in the glittering poop cloud. 

Friends, go watch this show. Do it now and start off your year in the right way. "Avenue 5" is currently airing on HBO and streaming on HBO Max.