Repartee: "I'm writing a book." "Neither am I." (attrib Peter Cook 1984)

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Jul 24 16:36:48 UTC 2013

Recalling Serge Gainsbourg's top o' the charts song from the late 1960s in France, "Je t'aime…moi non plus". See

for more than you want to know about the history of the song, if you're not of a certain age. I hadn't known about the Picasso-Dali "me neither" exchange (real or apocryphal as the case may be) before reading this wiki write-up.  Here's a video of the song--there are others, but this one seems particularly French (and hence NSFW, depending on the W):


On Jul 24, 2013, at 10:52 AM, ADSGarson O'Toole wrote:

> Fred Shapiro asked about the following joke:
>> Neither am I.
>> Peter Cook ... on being told that the person sitting next to him at a dinner party was "writing a book"
> There is evidence that the joke appeared in a cartoon that was created
> via collaboration between Peter Cook and Barry Fantoni. There are
> multiple claims that the cartoon was published in the UK periodical
> "Private Eye", but currently I do not know the time frame.
> After Peter Cook died The Guardian UK published "Satire's brightest
> star Peter Cook" on January 10, 1995. Friends of Cook shared memories
> of his life. The cartoonist Barry Fantoni wrote an article that
> mentioned the joke. Fantoni claimed that the caption of a cartoon that
> he drew was given to him during a conversation with Peter Cook.
> The text of the Guardian article is apparently available at the
> following link. The term "he" refers to Peter Cook:
> Title: Satire's brightest star - part 4
> Author: Barry Fantoni
> [Begin excerpt]
> During a big fight or cup match on TV, he would ring me, or I him and
> we'd watch the contest in our own homes, while at the same time
> amusing each other with personal observations. This would have a
> particular poignancy, and more jokes if Spurs were playing - Peter was
> an avid Spurs fan.
> It was during such TV phone-ins that more general jokes would come
> about. The only time I drew a cartoon with a caption by Peter, arose
> from such a bout of casual banter. Two men are talking in a pub. One
> says: "I'm writing a book." The other says: "Neither am I."
> [End excerpt]
> Here is a blog article that references the cartoon, but no date is given:
> Title: Neither am I.
> Date: January 5, 2011
> [Begin excerpt]
> In a famous Cook and Fantoni cartoon (from Private Eye ages ago) two
> badly drawn men are standing together at a party. One says, “I’m
> writing a book”, the other replies, “Neither am I”. It was funny
> because it seemed everyone claimed they were at the time. Writing a
> book was the pre-internet dream ticket to money and fame, but few got
> around to it.
> [End excerpt]
> Here is another reference to the cartoon. In this instance the caption
> is different. The word "book" is replaced by "novel".
> Title: Q&A: Peter Florence Answers Your Questions
> Publication: Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
> Date: May 24, 2003
> Database: Questia
> [Begin excerpt]
> ......any books? If not, why not? A: There's a cartoon that the great
> Peter Cook wrote with Barry Fantoni. Two guys are standing in a bar
> and one of them says, 'I'm writing a novel'. The other says, `Neither
> am I'.
> [End excerpt]
> I have seen several comments of the type presented above; however, the
> cites do not  identify the time period of the cartoon. Barry Fantoni
> is alive, and he may know the date of publication.
> The other main piece of evidence for the quotation is from Nigel Rees.
> Who states the joke was attributed to Peter Cook during the Quote
> Unquote BBC Radio program in 1984.  Here is what Nigel wrote in
> Cassell's:
> [ref] 2001, Cassell's Humorous Quotations, Compiled by Nigel Rees,
> Section: Conversational gambits, Page 94, [Cassell, London], Sterling
> Pub. Co., New York. (Verified on paper) [/ref]
> [Begin excerpt]
> On being told that the person sitting next to him at a dinner party
> was 'writing a book':
> 6  Neither am I.
> Peter Cook, English humorist (1937-95). Quoted by Richard Ingrams on
> BBC Radio  Quote ... Unquote (25 August 1984), though Cook declined to
> claim it as original.
> [End excerpt]
> Garson
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

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