|"Eddie and Rik"|
Growing up in the 1980's and 90's, I had six brothers. My second eldest brother Jamie collected videos of the British comedian Rik Mayall. He owned them all. Every release from his entire New Statesmen collection, Kevin Turvey stand-up specials, all the way through to ITV’s much forgotten "Rik Mayall presents” – a six-part series of separate drama pieces starring the energetic comedian and vastly underrated actor. One of these episodes - Mickey Love, is possibly his finest serious work.
Jamie and my third eldest brother, Scott, would view these videos night after night till they could quote the hell out of each episode. Their love of Rik’s work stretched so far, they even ventured across London to Hammersmith; setting of classic Television comedy “Bottom”, purely to find the bench used in the opening credits by the shows stars and writers, Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmonson – it wasn’t there. This failure was alleviated a little via the six or seven visits to see Mayall headline troubled theatre production “Cell Mates” at the Albany Theatre, London in 1995. While known for being the play Stephen Fry left due to personal issues, Rik again showed his acting chops in a role I myself as a fifteen year-old saw him command twice; not that I understood any of it - I just wanted to see Rik in person.
Scott continued his Bottom influence – with good friend Leigh Miller, by taking their own interpretation of Ade and Rik to secondary school talent show; kinda like a miniature Britain’s Got Talent – minus the talent. With Scott as Rik and Leigh as Ade, they managed to conjure a fist-fight, insult one another, and lose a pair of oversized trousers to a fully engaged wild audience, taken away from their usual two second attention spans. Their school – much like my friends at my school, their friends, all my brother’s friends, and all in-between us, grew up on a diet of The Young Ones and Bottom; and this was as close as it was ever going to come to Edgware, in North-West London. One year, the feminist Claire Rayner turned up; no one gave a shit - Rik would have caused a riot.
|"Rik in 2013"|
Catching the wonders of Bottom on television, my younger brother Nick purchased his own collection of Rik Mayall videos to enjoy with the younger siblings; for their own amusement. Nick's love of the duo so strong, he even wrote the name “Rik Edmunson” on a birdcage my father found during one of his night time walks; planning to name a pet which never came to reside in a cage, which ended up in Cash Converters. Alongside Nick, my two youngest brothers Adam and Stevie, grew up around Rik’s archaic and anarchic style of humour, and – just like the rest, were converts to his unique, hilarious brand of non-conformist humour.
My girlfriend often reminds me how – when we first met four years ago, I introduced her to two elements of life she hardly knew existed, yet now have a great love for; Professional Wrestling, and the comedy of Rik Mayall. Our senses of humour often differ; she is more subversive silliness, to my subtle yet intelligent form of merriment. Yet together, we have enjoyed many hours of Bottom, The Young Ones, a host of Bottom Live shows, the Dangerous Brothers, and even the often forgotten Filthy, Rich and Catflap – which I discovered from Jamie’s video collection. The humour or Rik Mayall has transcended three decades, and only grows funnier...
I wanted to write a tribute to Rik Mayall; the British comedian who died today at the young age of 56. I wanted to explain how his work of layering intelligent social and ethical observation, under physically violent slapstick toilet humour, was the markings of a genius. I wanted to command those who have never seen his work (Rik never took off in the USA, which I always felt odd), to visit YouTube and view a random episode of Bottom. I wanted to do all these things, then I realised - the best tribute I can pay to him, is to simply explain just how much myself and the people around him loved his work, and enjoyed his performances.
He was a maverick, an individual, impossible to replicate, and a man whose work myself, my brothers, my friends, and an entire generation will miss dearly. He was also very very funny - and is still in my view the greatest man ever to shout the word "bastard!" Goodbye Rik.I guess in our own ways, we all wanted to be just like you. But the reality is different - there will only ever be one Rik Mayall... You bastard!
RIP Rik Mayall: 1958 - 2014