85 of 92 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Why Bother?: Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling in Conversation with Chris Morris (BBC Radio Collection) (Audio CD)
I've lent this tape to several people and not a single one realised that Cook improvised the whole thing. That is a mark of genius. Cook's character, Sir Arthur Streeb-Greeblng (not to be confused with his nemesis, Sir Arthur Greeb-Streebling), is a comic gold mine, and having aged a lot since his appearances on Not Only ... But Also, has become something not entirely dissimilar to the Fast Show's Rowley Birkin, but far funnier.
It's truly wonderful that that the careers of Peter Cook and Chris Morris, in many ways Cook's obvious successor, overlapped enough for us to hear them work together. Morris has a frustrating habit of trying too hard to be contraversial (the awful Brass Eye special springs to mind), but he can be a truly brilliant surrealist when he's not trying to upset people.
Morris doesn't say much on "Why Bother", but does a great job of forcing Cook into improvising. It's obvious at times that Cook has a routine in mind, but Morris refuses to let him take over, instead forcing the conversation into truly surreal directions. When you think of some of the pretentious "artists" who appeared on early editions of "Whose Line Is It Anyway", it's hard to imagine that they could cope with being asked for info regarding their plan to revive the infant Christ and exhibit him around the world.
Although there is a sense of Cook squirming to come up with material,he never drops out of character or (crucially) stops being funny. VERY funny.
The highlight for me must be Sir Arthur's story about bee-keeping, which makes me laugh out loud every single time I hear it. Similarly, the tales of Sir Arthur's father's attempts to make a man of him are priceless, and his attempts to convince Morris to let have a haircut during the interview. Actually, 99% of the tape could actually be listed as highlights, as there are very few dead spots.
As with most of Cook's work, what lifts Why Bother above lesser forms of surreal comedy (including Python), is the way that Cook manages to remain completely deadpan throughout. The fact that he never once lets the mask slip is astounding.
For anyone who wants to hear a comic mastermind at work, battling
against a mastermind of the future, this tape is essential.
Oh, and if you're wondering why they stuck a picture of E.L. Wisty on the cover, rather than Sir Arthur, don't ask me!!