Peter Cook

Over at Rainbow's

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The so-called tragic decline of Peter Cook as a commercial power in the world of comedy has been documented so often that it is now accepted as gospel. The fact that people stopped hearing him, however, does not mean they stopped laughing at him -- they just didn't do it on such large stages anymore. Towards the end of his life, Cook threw himself into any number of situations that, had they only been aimed at a national audience, could have sent his stock soaring as high as it ever flew. Instead, he saved his best material for late-night phone-ins to a local London radio station, where he convinced the host that he was a lovelorn Norwegian fisherman named Sven; for very occasional TV chat show appearances; and for the tapes which have surfaced here, casual recordings made by his next door neighbor, fringe political figure "Rainbow" George Weiss, as the pair sat debating...well, pretty much everything. These tapes were never intended for release and that much is apparent from a rambling approach that defies even Cook's customary approach of winding his way towards a routine's conclusion. Rather the 24 "tracks" are, for the most part, simply blocks of conversation that, with a little editing, have been transformed into something more...or less.

Harry Thompson, author of the definitive Cook biography, Peter Cook, condemns "few of the tapes are worth listening to today," pointing out that "Peter sounds drunk or out of his head on drugs." And this is true. But Sven makes several uproarious appearances, including one discussing the part played by fish in remedying hooliganism in Norway; and, to be truthful, a drunken Cook is still far funnier than many men are when they're sober.

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