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Tragically I Was an Only Twin: The Comedy of…

Tragically I Was an Only Twin: The Comedy of Peter Cook (edition 2003)

by Peter Cook

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Title:Tragically I Was an Only Twin: The Comedy of Peter Cook
Authors:Peter Cook
Info:Arrow (2003), Edition: New Ed, Paperback, 350 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:writing, English, Comedy, stories, humor, craft, fiction, funny,

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Tragically I Was an Only Twin: The Comedy of Peter Cook by Peter Cook



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Everything by Peter Cook
  stevholt | Nov 19, 2017 |
The best description of Peter Cook came from Stephen Fry, who said he was the funniest man who ever drew breath. This volume collects about as much of the short form written record as exists. Unfortunately, a great deal of Cook’s oeuvre on the BBC was systematically and deliberately destroyed – to make space, of all things. But Cook was so active in so many media, it could fill a book. And here it is.

Having it all in front of you gives you the opportunity to attempt to make sense of it, to figure out how Peter Cook was funny. A great deal of the answer is that it was in the delivery. The dry, phony, ignorant Briton, be he upper class or lower, was a natural for Peter Cook to imitate and caricature. His vehicle was repetition, constantly repeating what his friend or interviewer or random encounter would say. Cook would echo it. Repeatedly. Even “Good evening” became the basis of many a hilarious routine. Say it enough, and it becomes absurd. The works show that he could be funny differently, as needed. He didn’t tell jokes. There is no way to stereotype him. He was clever, biting, sarcastic and bombastic, as needed. He had the potential to own every medium.

Only Twin also reveals Peter Cook in media we don’t readily remember him in. Sports columns, editorials, and radio phone-in shows for example. They showed his talents but also his huge weakness. Cook never really worked at anything. His success began right in school, and he rode his wave without ever honing his gift. The result is dilettantism – trying this or that, expecting to be effortlessly brilliant. He wasn’t. Had he stuck with anything, we might have seen refinement, growth, and that brilliance adapted and expanded. But his editorials are superficial, his sports columns bland, and the call-in by “Sven” quite uninspired. His films cause consternation.

Reading the short form scripts, particularly the Dudley Moore two-handers, you can hear how Cook made dull bores excruciatingly funny. The ignorant assumptions of his characters, the tiny bit of knowledge extended far beyond its worth, the pompous self-serving assessments – are all there, but they’re there in Cook’s delivery. Very few actors could pick up these scripts and do as well with them as Peter Cook did.

So the magic remains his, but the collection of these works is enormously valuable, not to mention enjoyable. ( )
1 vote DavidWineberg | Mar 16, 2014 |
His complete writings, apparently, including some stuff of which I had never been aware. Lots of insight into the development of his comedy and very, very funny in parts - enough to make me laugh out loud at times. And very sad to realise that one will never read or hear any of this again. ( )
  kevinashley | Sep 22, 2008 |
Peter Cook was quite possibly the funniest man who has ever lived. His work on radio, television and `Private Eye' was without exception hysterically amusing.

For reasons that I still do not understand this book is completely unfunny. Go and get a CD or DVD instead. ( )
  dir21 | Mar 7, 2007 |
Peter Cook, comedy genius, writer, performer, star of stage, screen and LP, savior of Private Eye, partner of Dudley Moore, this is a collection of (not quite) all the collected writings on one of England's great comedians.

Whether you're a fan of Pete n' Dud, Derek and Clive, Sven the insomniac Norwegian fisherman or Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling, there are some treasures in here for you.

Cook's humour was quintessentially English, often based on class differences and the perceptions of difference, he used humour to have a go at the rich, stupid, working class, middle class, the religious, the pious, but often done in an abstract and surreal style that would inspire those other giants of British comedy the Monty Python team.

My personal favourite would be that failure of a man, Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling, the man who spent half a lifetime trying to teach ravens to fly underwater, undertook a financially disastrous musical crickets tour and once had a job as Betty Grable's leg tugger (she had very short legs you see, they required daily tugging to keep them at a reasonable length for dancing).

Cook's star has waned somewhat in comparison to Python and other comic luminaries like the Two Ronnies and Morecombe and Wise, but if one of the numerous endless repeats channels on satellite tv should see fit to broadcast some Pete ' Dud, or maybe air the Twelve Days of Christmas, they are well worth looking out for, and if you can't see them, pick up the book. ( )
1 vote Yorkshiresoul | Dec 9, 2006 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Peter Cookprimary authorall editionscalculated
Cook, WilliamEditorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0712623981, Hardcover)

"Tragically I was an Only Twin" is a selection of British humorist Peter Cook's comic career, from "Beyond the Fringe," the satirical magazine "Private Eye," his routines with Dudley Moore, and later material. Much of it is very hard to find in the UK, where the book was published, let alone in the US. 350 pages.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:46 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"This collection gathers together the treasures of Cook's comic career, from school and university via Beyond the Fringe, alongside Alan Bennett, Jonathan Miller and Dudley Moore, to his satirical journalism for Private Eye. It includes his finest EL Wisty monologues, the cream of his irreverent journalism, and highlights from his partnership with Dudley Moore as Pete & Dud and Derek & Clive. Illustrated with his own drawings, Tragically I was an Only Twin is the definitive collection of the wit, humour and genius of Peter Cook"--Blurb.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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