Peter Edward Cook (17 November 1937 – 9 January 1995) was an English satirist, writer and comedian. An extremely influential figure in modern British comedy, he is regarded as the leading light of the British satire boom of the 1960s. He has been described by Stephen Fry as "the funniest man who ever drew breath," although Cook's work was also controversial. Cook is closely associated with anti-establishment comedy that emerged in Britain and the USA in the late 1950s.
Cook was born at Shearbridge, Middle Warberry Road, Torquay, Devon, the only son and eldest of the three children of Alexander Edward (Alec) Cook (1906–1984), a colonial civil servant, and his wife Ethel Catherine Margaret, née Mayo (1908–1994). He was educated at Radley College and Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he read French and German. As a student, Cook meant to become a career diplomat like his father, but Britain "had run out of colonies", as he put it. Although politically largely apathetic, he did join Cambridge University Liberal Club.
It was at Pembroke that he performed and wrote comedy sketches as a member of the Cambridge Footlights Club, of which he became president in 1960.