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英国式幽默见证着英国衰弱

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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.
库克饰演的麦克米伦会在台上踱来踱去,夸口说自己已说服美国总统肯尼迪(Kennedy)向英国提供“北极星”(Polaris)导弹。“我们要到1970年前后才能拿到那种导弹,”这位“麦克米伦”用带着点儿颤音的伊顿腔承认,“与此同时,我们必须双手合十,安静地坐好,尽量不要招惹任何人。”“麦克米伦”还补充道,不管怎么说,英国已经拥有了自己的核武器。他表示:“我们拥有蓝剑(Blue Steel),一种非常有效的导弹,射程达到了150英里,也就是说,我们差不多可以打到巴黎了。老天爷作证,我们会这么干的。”
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.”
一个国家走向没落的一大好处,是对于没落所持的幽默态度——这几乎让这种没落显得“物有所值”。美国人常常抱怨本国政治辩论中的怨恨之意——美国总统奥巴马(Obama)天天被人谩骂,却鲜少遭人嘲弄。但随着美国也与英国一道坐上了“下行”电梯,相信两国都将迎来库克式讽刺喜剧的复兴。
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.
对于国家的衰落,库克有着亲身的经历。在库克出生的1937年,他父亲亚历克?库克(Alec Cook)正在遥远的尼日利亚任职。亚历克·库克毕生为大英帝国效力,当儿子的麦克米伦讽刺剧首度在伦敦引起轰动时,亚历克正在的黎波里,担任联合国(UN)的经济顾问。
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.)
这倒不是说库克喜欢挖苦人。作为一个天生的保守主义者,库克并不讨厌麦克米伦。他只是发现了可笑之处。随着大英帝国的崩塌,其原有的信仰体系霎那间变得滑稽可笑。例如,大英帝国一直崇拜极地探险。库克创作了一部名为《长臂猿涂鸦》("Scribble" Gibbons)的滑稽剧,剧中人模仿探险队员,回忆他的上一次探险:“我们扎好帐篷,准备第二天一早就出发。但我们没想到极夜现象,结果等了6个月,才等到了天亮。”
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.
有意思的是,2011年的美国恰如1947年的英国。战争年代的领袖已经谢幕——在那时的英国,这个人是温斯顿?丘吉尔(Winston Churchill);而在如今的美国,这个人则是丘吉尔的模仿者。无论是当今的美国还是当初的英国,面临的都是战争的创伤和债务的重负,正悄然退出南亚,将雄图大略抛诸脑后——而它们的领袖,其实不过是想为自己的国民提供医疗保障。
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.
奥巴马的政敌们仍然认为,这位实力非凡的总统正在毁掉他们伟大的国家。最终,他们或许会转而支持库克的立场:掌权者并非实力非凡,他们不过是有些滑稽而已。
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.
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2011-04-19 11:02 编辑:icetonado
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