E. L. Wisty

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E.L. Wisty was a fictional character played by comedian Peter Cook throughout his career.[1] A bland, monotonal know-it-all, he was usually presented in the form of monologues and sketches in which he bores members of the public.

Originally titled Mr. Boylett after the table butler at Radley College, Cook's secondary school, Cook delighted school friends with impressions of Boylett, telling bizarre tales including that of the Holy Bee of Ephesus – a bee that had flown three times around the crucified Jesus – and how he would buy various inanimate objects when he thought he saw them move.

When Cook was encouraged to transfer these tales to stage monologues at Cambridge, he changed the name of his character to Mr Arthur Grole, then to E.L. Wisty.

The character was played at Beyond the Fringe, which featured the most famous Wisty sketch, involving his former aspirations of becoming a judge, in which his lack of Latin caused him to fail "the rigorous judging exams". This led to his becoming a coal miner instead, having passed the exams, claiming that, "They only ask you one question. They ask, 'Who are you?' and I got 75 percent on that."

Wisty was famed for bothering members of the public on park benches on topics including tadpoles, royalty, newts, peace through nudism, inalienable rights, and his friend Spotty Muldoon. His 'foils' were such comic actors as John Cleese and John Bird.

In 1964, Wisty and Spotty formed the World Domination League, with aspirations to dominate the world by 1958; he enlisted a Private Eye secretary to send out postcards.[2] "We shall move about in people's rooms and say, 'Excuse me, we are the World Domination League. May we dominate you?' Then, if they say 'Get out,' of course we give up."

Their list of demands were:

  1. Total domination of the world by 1958.
  2. Domination of the astral spheres quite soon too.
  3. The finding of lovely ladies for Spotty Muldoon within the foreseeable future.
  4. Getting a nuclear arm to deter with.
  5. The bodily removal from this planet of C. P. Snow and Alan Freeman and their replacement with fine trees.
  6. Stopping the government from crawling up our pipes and listening to all we say.
  7. Training bees for uses against foreign powers, and so on.
  8. Elimination of spindly insects and encouragement of lovely little newts who dance about and are happy.
  9. E.L. Wisty for God.


  1. ^ Thompson, Harry (2011). Biography Of Peter Cook. Hachette UK. 
  2. ^ Cook, Wendy E (2006). So Farewell Then: The Untold Life of Peter Cook. HarperCollins. p. 296.