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

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Sun Jul 28 19:43:24 UTC 2013

Whether Cook got it from the French or not, this seems to be a classic
example of "folk joke" being attributed to a comedian who uses it in a
semi-public forum. This is a particularly common phenomenon in Eastern
Europe, where distancing oneself from jokes or incorporating someone
else's jokes into one's own repertoire has long been accepted practice
and a defensive mechanism against repressive censorship regimes. I have
some relatives in humor/satire writing and the satirists  tend to borrow
shamelessly from each other, particularly in retelling unpublished
jokes. Cook's own disclaimer of authorship should be taken very
seriously. I would identify such attribution as "re-telling" with author
unknown. The vector can be as important as the author, but we should not
recognize them as being the same.


On 7/28/2013 3:26 PM, ADSGarson O'Toole wrote:
> ...
> [Begin excerpt]
> As a curious coincidence, only yesterday I was reading a copy of Quips
> and Quotes (2012) by Richard Ingrams in which he definitively states
> that the idea for the Barry Fantoni cartoon was from Peter Cook
> (though as you will see from the above he apparently disclaimed
> credit).
> [End excerpt]
> Garson

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list