I’ve been doing a lot of reminiscing this past month but I hope you’ll forgive me for having one more look back into the past following the sudden death of one of my comedy heroes, Rik Mayall.
My journey into Rik’s massive comedy canon was a bit roundabout, as I believe my first experiences of him were in Blackadder as the luxuriously-quiffed Lord Flashheart. Here was a guy so good at the knowing wink to camera, you could almost feel his eyelashes tickling your nose, and it wasn’t long before I was tracking down episodes of The Young Ones to see more of his genius.
It was probably with Bottom though that I gained my true Mayall obsession. He and Adrian Edmondson were at their comedic zenith, knocking each other around with cricket bats and frying pans, but it was the instinctively brilliant writing that meant the slapstick wasn’t the be all and end all of the show. Richie and Eddie were two utterly disgusting lunatics but you couldn’t help have some weird sympathy for their quest for girls and filthy lucre.
The show proved successful enough to warrant a stage show, and I was fortunate enough to attend a couple of them at Bristol Hippodrome where it appeared that the pair were having as much fun as the audience. Often corpsing, or just degenerating into a comedic war of kitchen utensils for minutes on end, the pair brought frippery, filthiness and, most importantly, fun to hundreds of people every night.
In recent years, Rik may have been a bit quieter but still starred in Man Down, cropped up in Jonathan Creek and went back to his roots in new episodes of The Comic Strip Presents… constantly proving that there was still life in the old dog.
So, why is Rik’s comedy so important to us? Quite simply, it’s an escape into the ridiculous, something which is ever more important in an increasingly serious society. We’ve just lost a comedy genius and the world once again becomes a slightly less fun place to be.