Friday, October 18, 2013

PETER COOK RARITIES pt2: "Here Comes The Judge"

Here's a second and final blast of comedic genius from the late Peter Cook, this time from 1979 - 24 minutes of "Here Comes The Judge" (no relation to the Pigmeat Markham song, or any of those other r'n' b novelties by the same name - scroll down to 'session 211' HERE for that phenomenon). The great man making this available to us, Count Otto Black, tells us:

As a follow-up to the collected works of E. L. Wisty, I give the the EP that Peter Cook made as a response to the trial of Jeremy Thorpe in 1979. As a non-Brit, you probably don't know about this, but in its time it was the British O. J. Simpson trial, only much more fun because nobody actually died. Also, politicians and kinky sex! What's not to like? Jeremy Thorpe had until recently been the leader of the Liberal Party, the most important British political party with no chance whatsoever of winning an election (especially after this). Some years previously, a whiny, neurotic, and thoroughly unpleasant male model called Norman Scott had alleged that Thorpe had been in a homosexual relationship with him. Not only was this not the sort of thing you could possibly admit to in those days, but at the time Scott claimed that it happened, homosexuality was a criminal offense in the UK. Thorpe, a thoroughly respectable public figure who was married (to a woman), managed to brush this off as a pack of lies concocted by a seedy little creep he'd briefly known (though obviously not that well), mainly because Scott was obviously the kind of person you couldn't trust, let alone like.

And then Scott made further allegations that Thorpe, along with several of his friends, had conspired to murder him, a plot which only failed because they had no experience of serious crime, and hired a totally inept hit-man who only managed to kill Scott's dog, a Great Dane called Rinka (as a result of which the British press called the whole thing "Rinkagate"). This was a much more serious allegation, and because various people panicked and admitted that at least some of it was true, Scott was taken a lot more seriously this time. Thorpe's defense was that some of his buddies had paid huge sums of money out of their own pockets to have somebody who was inconvenient to his political career murdered, but at no point had they mentioned to him that they were even thinking of doing any such thing.

Since there was no proof either way, the jury had to decide whether the charge of conspiracy to commit murder was true or false on purely subjective grounds. The extremely pro-establishment judge did his best to emphasize Norman Scott's obvious character flaws throughout the trial while painting Jeremy Thorpe as a saint, and in his notorious summing-up, practically ordered the jury to find Thorpe not guilty. After initially being deadlocked 6-6, they eventually decided that Thorpe was innocent. Nevertheless, his career was ruined. He's still alive, but ever since he has with rare exceptions kept out of the public eye, concentrating on low-key charity work, almost as if he felt guilty about something.

Peter Cook's blistering satire of the judge's summing-up was written very quickly for the Amnesty International benefit gig The Secret Policeman's Ball, and is often regarded as the best sketch he ever wrote, though apparently it was Billy Connolly who came up with the famous line "self-confessed player of the pink oboe". The other three tracks on the subsequent EP Here Comes The Judge were written later, but the peculiar sermon is a spoof of the real sermon preached at Thorpe's local church in front of him by an absurdly sycophantic vicar who directly compared his recent sufferings with those of Jesus Christ. I think the other two tracks are self-explanatory. A comedy genius at his darkest and best - enjoy!

Peter Cook - Gay Sex Dead Dog Atrocity!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thankyou! Haven't heard this for years.