Monday, 20 October 2014

Rik Mayall.

A bit late I know, but as Rik would say - 'piss off, who cares'. I'm not going to try and spin you a yarn – I'm just going to tell you the facts.

I didn't know Rik - I'm just another fan who never met him. I was brought up on 80s and 90s British comedy, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that from the ages of seven to fourteen, I wanted to be Rik Mayall. The first comedy script I remember writing was an episode of Bottom. I was about 10 at the time, did it with another boy who had the same fixation with it as me. We’d write it, act it out – brilliant fun. The script itself was shit, but it was brilliant fun. Around the same time I had a lot of confidence issues. I was an insecure little kid, always nervous about the next day, thinking ahead of all the things that could go wrong. Quoting and repeating put-downs I heard on Bottom to bullies was my only defence in an all-boys secondary school that felt like some kind of dystopian prison. My group of friends at that school were all Bottom fans - that was our common ground. In 2003, I saw Bottom live in Hammersmith with two of those friends, who cosplayed as Richie and Eddie for the evening. It was the final tour that Rik and Ade Edmondson would ever do together, so I’m glad I saw them perform together when I had the chance.

My plays have been compared to Bottom on more than one occasion, which I can only take a great compliment. Rik Mayall's work on The Young Ones, The Comic Strip, Blackadder had a profound influence on not just my writing, but my sense of humour, who my friends are, my career, and my personality. If Rik Mayall hadn’t have been a thing, I may have ended up an accountant. Close shave. Recently, I bought The New Statesman box set, and it’s like discovering Rik all over again. His effortless charisma, his paranormal comic timing, his presence – this man could make anything funny. I can’t imagine how amazing it would have been to work with him, or even just going for a pint with the one-man comedy tornado that was Rik.

Rik is the first of my personal heroes to die, and he won't be the last, but he just might be the greatest comedian who ever lived. No-one was a good as Rik in his prime.