Peter Cook's Interesting Facts
A classic Peter Cook sketch
which Cook continued to reprise and adapt for the rest of his career. He first
performed it at a
College revue in 1959, and
subsequently hired it out to Kenneth Williams for Williams' West End revue,
The Eight, in 1961, before
reprising it for Amnesty International, where it was one of the highlights of
the first Secret Policeman's Ball, in 1979, with John Cleese in the part
originally played by Peter Bellwood.
- PETER COOK: Good evening.
JOHN CLEESE: Oh, good evening.
PETER COOK: I'm extremely interested in all facets of human life,
including you. Tell me you are a mariner.
- JOHN CLEESE: No, I'm afraid
I'm not. I'm an architect.
PETER COOK: Oh, I see. I only mentioned that you might be a mariner
so that I could lead the conversation round to an interesting fact I've
accumulated. It pertains to the cod fish. That's an ocean-dwelling creature.
JOHN CLEESE: Yes, I've heard of the cod.
PETER COOK: Yes, it's quite an interesting fact, that. The codfish
relies almost solely for protection on blending with the natural seaweeds
amongst which it lives.
- JOHN CLEESE: Goodness me.
PETER COOK: It is its sole protection, whereas the sole relies
almost entirely on hanging about behind shoals of cod. That's quite an
interesting fact, isn't it?
JOHN CLEESE: Yes. Yes, it is.
PETER COOK: But not as interesting in my opinion as another fact
I've come across.
JOHN CLEESE: Oh?
PETER COOK: It's about the eagle. It's quite interesting that the
eagle has an estimated wingspan of eighteen feet, whereas its two feet span
three feet, which is double the length of its tail feather and over four times
the width of its beak alone. That's quite an interesting statistic, isn't it?
JOHN CLEESE: Fancy that - the eagle. I never knew.
PETER COOK: I doubt if the eagle does either. It's quite interesting
to think that if all the Chinamen in the world linked hands they'd girdle the
earth three times.
JOHN CLEESE: Three time, eh? That's amazing.
PETER COOK: I wouldn't call it amazing. I'm not amazed by it. I just
take an intelligent interest in it. Of course, I've not bothered to check up
at all. I've just taken it on trust. I've not got time to go round organising
Chinamen to link their hands, and the practical difficulties are immense.
You'd have to have rafts over the sea. Anyway, I shouldn't think they'd agree
to do it. But it's quite interesting as a fact.
- JOHN CLEESE: Yes. Yes, I
suppose it is.
- PETER COOK: The grasshopper
is an interesting creature. It has a disproportionate leaping ability. It's
the powerful hind legs that cause it. You can seem them hopping over grassy
terrain. That's why it's called a grasshopper.
I'm very interested in the grasshopper and its leaping ability. I
haven't got an unhealthy interest in it, mind you. I'm not obsessed by it. I
haven't got an unhealthy sexual interest in the grasshopper. At least I've
never had any sexual activity with a grasshopper. Or if I have, nobody saw me.
And if they did see me it's their look out.
- But it is its leaping
ability that interests me. Up and down and up it goes, all over arable land.
Thatís land thatís actually tilled by Arabs. You see the interesting fact
about your Arab is that he can live for a whole year on one grain of rice.
- JOHN CLEESE: What rubbish!
One year on one grain of rice!
- PETER COOK. Sorry, sorry.
It's the mosquito that can live for a whole year on one grain of rice...I get
those two muddled up because they're next to each other in the dictionary."
- JOHN CLEESE: What are?
- PETER COOK: Mosquitoes and
- JOHN CLEESE: Well, thank you
very much, but I think I've heard enough of your interesting facts.
PETER COOK: Heard enough?
JOHN CLEESE: Yes. I must confess to being a trifle bored by some of
PETER COOK: Bored? That's rather interesting
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