November 28, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST

Tragically I Was An Only Twin

Current Status
In Season
Peter Cook
Comic Novels
We gave it a B

The singular Cook, who died in 1995, was one quarter of the groundbreaking British comic revue Beyond the Fringe, one half of the famous comedy team of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, and wholly original — a lightning-quick wit dubbed ”Peter Amadeus Cook” for his precociousness by attitudinal heir John Cleese. As is inevitable with transcriptions of spoken works, some of the pieces collected here flatten on the page. But even a print version of the famous ”Sitting on the Bench” monologue (about the coal miner who ”could have been a judge but never had the Latin”) or the duo’s ”One Leg Too Few” sketch (about a mono-limbed actor auditioning to play Tarzan) is better than missing them, and the assemblage of the duo’s once shockingly raunchy ”Derek and Clive” routines still musters a kick. To keep Cook’s pouchy-hound face and lunkish posture in mind while sampling, rent 1967’s ”Bedazzled.”

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