If you like the idea of a one-legged man auditioning for the role of Tarzan and think there might be comedy gold there, then you belong in the same camp with Dudley Moore, Peter Cook and me. I can’t speak for either Pete or Dud, but I could also imagine a rather interesting stage production starring a one-legged man as Tarzan. The mind does wander.
Bypassing the Ritz Brothers, with whom I had a brief entertainment dalliance, Peter Cook was the first humorist that pre-dated me that I felt mostly belonged to me rather than my older brothers or parents. It is true that one of my brothers told me that I really did just have to see this crazy movie called Bedazzled, which proved to be my introduction to Doctor Faustus. I could not have asked for better.
Really, I just need to think about Dudley Moore blowing another raspberry and making a wish and I am smiling- actually suppressing a giggle.
The reason I got to feel proprietary about Cook was because I discovered Beyond the Fringe all on my own. That’s much easier now. For that matter, I had no idea that Moore and Cook had worked together so much. Moore’s movie stardom was a well-established fact by the time I was aware of either of them. Up until then, Cook was the tall bloke in Bedazzled with the evil leer. (Yes, they did host SNL together during that long ago first season, but that was just a tad before my time, though it probably gives my brothers some rights to their own enjoyment.)
Then he went and died.
Somehow this led to his writing being published over here. Which meant that I read his writing. And liked it quite a bit.
This meant I brought Peter Cook up in conversation in the late 1990’s, before the remake of Bedazzled was released, not that it made anyone remember Peter Cook any better. Outside of family, who had long before grown tolerant of my interests, I spent most of my time explaining who the man was.
I know that all art is ephemeral. Everything that people do is temporary. That is essentially the bitter truth with which we all struggle. That struggle manifests in how we value ideas, people and things. It manifests in how we express ourselves- our faiths and child-rearing and insomnia.
Nothing throws that struggle into stark reality like a blank stare from someone when you start talking about something that you find interesting. Lack of interest is the true hourglass of the days of our lives. You can feel the sand toppling to the bottom as those eyes opposite you glaze over.
Yet, somebody has loaded clips of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore and the Ritz Brothers. Someone else has viewed them- a million times it says. The internet and the cloud are lies about permanence, but they are true about our belonging to a culture of like-minded beings.
What’s it all about?
You’ve Got to Check This Out is a blog series about music, words, and all sorts of artistic matters. It started with an explanation. 60 more to go.
New additions to You’ve Got to Check This Out release regularly. Also, free humor, short works, and poetry post irregularly. Receive notifications on Facebook by friending or following Craig.
Images may be subject to copyright.