Comedy and death seem so terribly contrary and yet are so inextricably linked, that last week when I heard Rik Mayall had died, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. What do you MEAN Rik Mayall’s dead? *snort* As IF.
It was a joke! And you fell for it… like the facist you are!
Except it wasn’t. And he IS. And I felt so terribly sad about it all. But it wasn’t just me being all girly – people everywhere were sharing real and virtual hugs over it, mourning somebody who had made us all make strangled bear noises because we were laughing so hard. God he was funny. The explosive energy, the conscientious chaos, the intelligent insults and sheer ridiculousness. Sometimes I thought he crossed the line of lewdness, yet I found I would still honk with laughter.
I suppose it feels like bidding adieu to a teenage chum. Because a vast chunk of my formative high school years were invested in watching The Young Ones – so much so that my friend Maria and I knew all the episodes by heart. We’d scribble our favourite lines in notes to each other in class. We’d shout “Piss off you girl!” or “Hands up who likes me!”. We – weirdly – listened to Madness songs and would snigger about cornflakes and lentils. We even adopted personas: Maria was Rick; I wanted to be Vyvyan – but was usually Neil, mostly because I was a people-pleaser who wore flares. (Bor-ring!)
Before all of that there was Drop Dead Fred – I was only about 10 but, in spite of all the snotting, I had a very real crush on Fred’s enthusiasm, big eyes, and incorrigible loyalty. And let’s face it – there’s nothing quite as fanciable as a man who can make you laugh like a drain.
Anyway. Look. I wasn’t going to do a tribute post. PA-THET-IC. Every Rik Mayall fan has their own personal stories to tell and top comedy moments to share. We could all go on and on about it and I’m sure we’d never not have something to say.
But today it was Rik’s funeral and I wanted to pay my respects. And I want to do it with poetry. Rik’s poetry. Because those really were some of my favourite bits.
These days Maria are linked only via the loose virtual thread of Facebook. But she and I used to recite this so bloody often, that the day Rik died we unhesitatingly took turns to recite it line by line on her Facebook page.
2. ARE YOU, CLIFF?
From the very first episode. This was my all-time favourite Young Ones poem, partly because I grew up a dedicated Cliff Richard fan and this gave me licence to admit it… But mostly because it’s actually a bloody excellent poem.
3. BUT I DON’T KNOW VANESSA REDGRAVE!
What I love about this stand-up bit, from his early comedy act with Ade Edmondson, is that is shows elements of what would become the Young Ones’ Rick, but he’s somehow even more hilarious. I never stop shrieking with laughter watching this.
Thanks Rik, for being such a hilarious bastard. x