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|Also Known As:||Peter Edward Cook||Died:||January 9, 1995|
|Born:||November 17, 1937||Cause of Death:||gastrointestinal hemorrhage|
|Birth Place:||Devon, England, GB||Profession:||Cast ... actor producer screenwriter magazine editorial director nightclub owner|
Cited as "the funniest man who ever drew breath" by no less of an authority that actor-writer Stephen Fry, Peter Cook was the acerbic, absurdist father of modern British comedy, which he launched in 1960 with longtime partner Dudley Moore in the stage show "Beyond the Fringe," as well as a series of groundbreaking television series and recordings. Cook broke down the accepted model of comedy, tossing away joke structures and punch lines in favor of lengthy, improvised monologues built around bizarre characters and sketches that flowed into each other without reaching conclusions. In doing so, he served as the influence for dozens of subsequent comedy groups, including Monty Python's Flying Circus, who themselves influenced such American comedy outfits as Mr. Show, The State, Human Giant, and The Whitest Kids U' Know. Offstage, Cook was plagued by a misanthropic streak and a dependency on alcohol that eventually claimed his life in 1995, but his greatest work set the stage for modern comedy, which ensured his status in the pantheon of popular humor.
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