小编摘要：演员可彼得·库克(Peter Cook)却把时任英国首相哈罗德·麦克米伦(Harold Macmillan)扮演成了一个装模作样的老家伙——他勇敢的伪装，戳破了英国仍然是全世界老大的假象。
1961年，当一位年轻的英国喜剧演员开始在伦敦的舞台上模仿英国首相时，英国人几乎是头一回看到这样的东西。没人会拿英国首相“开涮”——原因何在？他是当时引领世界的领袖。可彼得？库克（Peter Cook）却把时任英国首相哈罗德·麦克米伦（Harold Macmillan）扮演成了一个装模作样的老家伙——他勇敢的伪装，戳破了英国仍然是全世界老大的假象。
When a young British comedian began impersonating the prime minister on the London stage in 1961, hardly anyone in Britain had seen such a thing before. You didn’t mock the British prime minister: why, the man led the world. But Peter Cook played Harold Macmillan as a bumbling old buffer, who was bravely pretending against all evidence that the UK still led the world.
Cook’s Macmillan would shuffle onstage, and boast that he’d persuaded President Kennedy to give Britain Polaris missiles. “We don’t get the missile until around 1970,” “Macmillan” admitted in his quavering Etonian tones. “In the meantime, we shall just have to keep our fingers crossed, sit very quietly, and try not to alienate anyone.” In any case, “Macmillan” would add, Britain already had its own nukes. “We have the Blue Steel, a very effective missile, as it has a range of 150 miles, which means that we can just about get Paris. And by God we will.”
The great benefit of national decline – almost making the whole thing worthwhile – is humour about decline. Americans often complain about the rancour in their political debate. President Obama is daily reviled, seldom mocked. But as the US joins the UK on the down escalator, both countries can now look forward to a renaissance of Cookist comedy.
Cook had personal expertise in national decline. When he was born, in 1937, his father was away administering Nigeria. Alec Cook devoted his career to empire. When his son’s Macmillan first hit London, Alec was in Tripoli as economic adviser to the United Nations.
库克小时候也希望长大后能为大英帝国效力。但他的文凭不够过硬，而且，当他毕业的时候，大英帝国已摇摇欲坠、成了人们嘲讽的对象。他放弃了主宰世界的梦想，不过带着一丝遗憾。很久之后，他回忆道：“如果当时百慕大总督来找我（做事），我还是会答应的。”曾与他共同出演《边缘之外》（Beyond the Fringe）的乔纳森？米勒（Jonathan Miller）也回忆道：“我当时感觉跟自己在一起的，是一个来自外交部、突然完全疯掉了的家伙。”（上面两句话均出自已故的喜剧编剧、电视制作人哈利？汤普森（Harry Thompson）的那本爆笑传记《彼得？库克》。）
Cook had grown up expecting to run the empire, too. But he didn’t get a good enough degree, and anyway, by the time he graduated, a crumbling empire was being replaced with satire. He abandoned global domination with tinges of regret, though. Much later he reflected: “I’d still say yes if the governorship of Bermuda came up.” And Jonathan Miller, a partner in their Beyond the Fringe show, recalled: “You felt you were with someone from the Foreign Office who had suddenly gone completely bananas.” （Both these quotes are in the late comedy writer and TV producer Harry Thompson’s hilarious biography, Peter Cook.）
It’s not that Cook was a satirist. A natural conservative, he didn’t hate Macmillan at all. He simply saw the joke. As the British empire collapsed, its belief-system suddenly became funny. For instance, the empire had revered manly polar explorers. Cook created a buffoonish parody called “Scribble” Gibbons, who reminisced about his last expedition: “We set up camp and prepared to set out the next morning. But we hadn’t prepared for the polar nights, and for six months we waited for the dawn to break.”
大英帝国还崇拜战争英雄，在《桂河大桥》（The Bridge on the River Kwai）等电影中宣扬他们的丰功伟绩。而库克则帮助拍摄了一部讽刺剧《瓦伊河大桥》（Bridge on the River Wye），名字来源于英国乡村一条安静的河流。“英格兰已经是1962年，”剧中他拖长声音说道，“而日本还停留在1943年，这两种伟大的宗教就有这么大的差别。”
The empire revered military heroes, glorifying them in films such as The Bridge on the River Kwai. Cook helped make a record called “Bridge on the River Wye”， after the gentle rural English river. “It was 1962 in England,” he intoned, “but still 1943 in Japan, such was the difference in teeth between these two great religions.”
实际上，从汤普森写的自传中可以看出，库克觉得大英帝国过去的一切都十分滑稽。他曾经想写一个完整的电影剧本，灵感来自于他的朋友理查德？英格拉姆（Richard Ingrams）讲述的一段故事。理查德的祖父曾经是维多利亚女王（Queen Elizabeth）的妇科医生。后来，在福克兰群岛战争（Falklands war，又称马岛战争）期间，他给当时妻子养的小动物取名时，用的都是当时冲突双方重要人物的名字。
In fact, as Thompson’s biography shows, Cook found almost everything in the great British past funny. He tried to write an entire film inspired by a story he had been told by his friend Richard Ingrams that the latter’s grandfather had been Queen Victoria’s gynaecologist. Later, during the Falklands war, he named his then wife’s animals after the conflict’s main protagonists.
当时年仅23岁的库克，曾在麦克米伦本人、肯尼迪和伊丽莎白女王面前扮演麦克米伦。观看演出时，肯尼迪一直很有职业操守地忍住不笑，而伊丽莎白女王则狂笑不已。但令人奇怪的是，库克如今却已几乎被人遗忘。英国广播公司（BBC）销毁了他的很多录音，甚至扔掉了他的一些脚本——它们倒是用处不大，因为库克在大部分戏里都是临场发挥的。库克和达德利·摩尔（Dudley Moore）一起录制的小品《德雷克与克利夫》（Derek and Clive），由于内容过于下流而未能播出。库克生命的最后十年基本上是在沙发上度过的，一边看电视，一边喝着酒。他57岁时死于酗酒。尽管如此，2005年第四频道评选“笑星中的笑星”时，库克仍名列榜首。
As a 23-year-old Cook had impersonated Macmillan in front of audiences that included Macmillan, President Kennedy （who, professionally, avoided laughing during the sketch） and Queen Elizabeth （who guffawed）。 Yet Cook is strangely little remembered today. The BBC destroyed many of his recordings, and even threw away some scripts. Scripts weren’t much use anyway, as most of his acts were improvised on the spot. His Derek and Clive sketches, recorded with Dudley Moore, were too obscene to broadcast. He spent his last decades mostly on the sofa, drunk, watching bad TV, before dying of drink aged 57. Nonetheless, in 2005, when Channel 4 conducted a poll to find “the comedian’s comedian”， Cook came top.
库克开创了一种英式“没落主义”幽默。后来当理查德整理一本谈论英国的文集时，想到了一个恰当的标题——“走向没落”（Going to the Dogs）。美国人眼下也可以企盼这种幽默了。
Cook had created a genre of British “declinist” humour. When Richard Ingrams later put together an anthology of writing about England, he reflected that an apt title would have been Going to the Dogs. This sort of humour is what Americans can now expect.
The US in 2011 curiously resembles the UK in 1947. The wartime leader – in the one country, Winston Churchill, in the other, a Winston Churchill impersonator – has left the stage. In both cases, you have a country battered by war and debt, quietly exiting south Asia, shedding grand ambitions, under a leader who is mostly just trying to give his own people healthcare.
Barack Obama’s enemies still believe that the mighty president is destroying their great country. Eventually, they will probably shift to the Cookist position: people in power aren’t mighty. They are just funny.
2011-04-19 11:02 编辑：icetonado