Why Rik Mayall Was “Bloody Brilliant”
It’s been roughly a month since Rik Mayall passed away, and I’m still watching my Bottom and The Young Ones box sets. It recently struck me just how influential he has been in the field of comedy – with sitcoms in particular – but, maybe due to a decline in his comedy career in recent years, his talent may have been overlooked. This seems to be particularly true with the younger generation, which is really quite sad. So, here are a few reasons why Rik Mayall was a fantastic asset of the comedy community.
Mayall influenced comedy in a great number of ways. The first of these is that he contributed greatly to the introduction of alternative comedy in the mainstream, where it had previously lacked. A co-writer of The Young Ones – in addition to a plethora of other shows – the show debuted on BBC2 in November 1982. This take on comedy was fresh and unlike any other at the time, and it helped to inspire a new generation of comedy shows. Mayall, alongside several other comedians, also performed at The Comedy Store in London, before establishing a comedy club called The Comic Strip, which then spawned a collaborative comedy show (The Comic Strip Presents...). This was renewed for five series, demonstrating the popularity of the collaborative effort which Mayall was part of.
Furthermore, Rik had the ability to really bring a persona to life. He also managed to turn these characters into loveable people that gained sympathy from the viewer – characters that normally you’d really, really love to hate. Take Richard Richard, from Bottom, as an example; a lonely, perverted, middle-aged geezer who is desperate to lose his virginity to any bird he can find, you actually end up feeling sorry for him and, perhaps, even root for him to succeed in his efforts (I certainly did!). And it’s not just Richard Richard that this is the case for; Mayall had the ability to turn many of his characters into hyper-realistic, over-the-top individuals – perfect for comedy scenarios – which is testament to his writing and performing talents.
Undoubtedly, though, one of the most wonderful things about Rik Mayall’s comedy career was his partnership with Adrian Edmondson. Starting out at university and spanning at least three decades, their partnership went from a double act at comedy clubs to TV sitcoms, live tours and even films, demonstrating their bond. The clear friendship between them was evident in their performances, and this on-screen (and off-screen) chemistry is a huge thing that will be remembered for years to come.
Rik Mayall has contributed such a great deal to comedy and it’s a real shame that he’s be unable to contribute to any future comedy projects. However, it’s still important to recognise how much he has actually done for comedy! So if you haven’t watched anything with Rik Mayall in it, then take the time to do so. It’s definitely worth it.