While the flurry of RIP messages and news of his death may seem distant now, we wanted to pay a little tribute to a man that has made us all laugh with a look at is nuttiest moments. Here goes…
Drop Dead Fred became a cult classic since its release in 1991. It was Rik’s first stab at Hollywood and the perfect role for him: A colourful, cartoonish, foul mouthed, British eccentric imaginary friend. Not like Mayall to be type cast as a pervert after playing ‘bachelor’ Richie in Bottom and ladies man Lord Flashheart in Blackadder. One of the naughtiest moments from kids comedy came from Fred sliding under the legs of the ‘super-bitch’ and eyes popping out in a cartoon way and whispering ‘cobwebs’ (While pointing to her knickers).
9. Sickest joke ever – Guest House Paradiso, 1999
Guest House Paradiso was basically ‘Bottom: The Movie’. This time Eddie (Ade Edmondson) and Richie Twat (“It’s pronounced Thwaite”) were running a guest house that made Faulty Towers look like The Savoy. Richie and Eddie tried to improve standards when a family (with a young Simon Pegg as the father) arrived as well as sexy Italian actress Gina Carbonara. Ding dong! The boys chases with Gina are foiled when her fiancé Gino (Vincent Cassel) turns up. Of course usual slapstick and black comedy hi-jinks ensue. This all climaxed with the guests getting violent food poisoning complete with grotesque projectile vomiting. The maddest moment came from Richie and Eddie running from a giant ball of vomit, Indiana Jones style.
8. Bad News plays Monsters of Rock – Comic Strip presents / Festival appearance, 1986
Before Spinal Tap there was Bad News, which made two appearances on Channel 4 comedy series ‘Comic Strip Presents….’ It featured a spoof heavy metal band where Mayall played public school going bassist Colin Grigs on (who secretly worked in a bank). When spotted in his business suit he announced to the camera ‘I’m not Colin, I’m Trevor, Colin’s twin brother! He is probably round his pad, because he is frightfully groovy!” The band, front by Ade Edmondson as Vim Fuego, released a cover of Bohemian Rhapsody, appeared on Wogan and even shared the stage at Castle Donnington with Ozzy, Motorhead, and Def Leppard. Now known as Download, Monsters of Rock was the annual gathering of metal-heads. As you can imagine the stage was stormed by angry fans and Colin aka Rik even lost his wig in the melee.
7. Jackanory gets ‘offensive’ – Jackanory, 1980s
Jackanory was basically a celebrity story time show that introduced a generation of kids to classic stories. Unsurprisingly Rik was reading a Roal Dahl classic: George’s Marvellous Medicine in his own unique style but some Children’s BBC viewers must not have approved. The show received complaints from viewers claimed both the story and presentation style to be ‘dangerous and offensive’. What do you expect from an anarchic comedian reading a story about a young boy who tries to kill his wicked grandmother? Even so, his appearance is highly regarded as the best reading from the Jackanory series.
6. ‘Mindless Violence’ – Stage Act / Saturday Live, 1987 onwards
Very few comedy performers can claim to have pioneered their own sub genre but in the dawn of alternative comedy in the 1980s; comedians like Harry Enfield and Ben Elton unleashed their anti-Thatcher humour on the world. Rik, and his long time collaborator Ade Edmondson, stood out as the Dangerous Brothers. Basically two ‘brothers’ – Richard and Sir Adrian Dangerous, abused each other in the most violent ways possible using a live crocodile, a machine gun, and even setting each other on fire. This was known as ‘mindless violence’, a sub-genre they would revisit in The Young Ones, Bottom and you could even argue 2013’s Man Down.
5. World’s Maddest Dad – Man Down, 2013
Throughout his career comedian and actor Greg Davies (famous for being Gilbert in The Inbetweeners) has been likened to Rik Mayall, not just for his humour but his physical appearance. So it would only be natural to cast Rik as his father in semi-biopic sitcom Man Down. One of the great man’s last performances summed up his humour to a tee. This included ambushing Greg, playing practical jokes and hurling insults to his own son. If you need a taster type ‘Rik Mayall Man Down’ in to YouTube, there are tons of ‘best of’ compilations.
One of Mayall’s stand-out characters was returning regular Lord Flashheart. And eccentric ladies man…wait a minute, is that not just Rik anyway? In a sitcom set in Elizabethan times, you need to have the stereotype swashbuckler hero in there somewhere to counteract the dry humour of Rowan Atkinson’s Lord Blackadder. His catchphrase is “Woof!” whilst thrusting his pelvis, and throws innuendos all over the place. What makes this even more hilarious is Rik has said in interviews he was honoured to be asked to play role. Under one condition: “I get more laughs than Rowan.”
Flashheart returned in the WWI themed Blackadder Goes Fourth (1989) this time as a pompous ace pilot Squadron Commander the Lord Flashheart. Who has to be mentioned merely for this quote: “I may have a tackle between my legs worthy of a Grand National winner but I’m not stupid.”
3. Rik’s Real-life Fan Letters
Since Mayall’s recent departure, fan letters and autographs have surfaced on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. Just goes to show he was as bonkers in real life as he was on stage. The most famous being from 2008 when he scribbled out his original response to an autograph response saying: “you cheapskate, money grabbing Welsh c—! Where’s the f—ing envelope you deformity? And changed it to: Here you are Daniel, hope you like the picture, and best wishes my dear friend. Others include signing a wedding guest book cursing the bride and groom as ‘utter bastards’ and using the entirety of a birthday card to call a 60 year old man an ‘utter, utter, incontinent, deaf, blind, doddering, dribbling, toothless, brainless, insane old twat’. Most touching though was signing the autograph for a young girl suffering from cancer with “The young ones never be afraid.”
2. Rick: People’s Poet – The Young Ones, 1982-84
The character Rik is most loved for around the world is know-it-all student, Rick. Self proclaimed ‘peoples poet’ everyone knew a Rick, as a well as a Vivian or Neil. Between spells of mindless violence, Rick would recite some of his terrible, Cliff Richard inspired poetry. Self-proclaimed ‘People’s Poet’ Rick came out with terrible rhymes such as “Neil, Neil, lemon peel, when will I see you again?” Or “House, house, house, you are made of stone. But you are not alone-ly house!” As you can tell he isn’t particularly talented. This character is slightly based on one of Mayall’s previous roles –Kevin Turvey, an ‘investigative journalist’ who appeared on various ‘80s comedy shows reading his equally awful poetry. This made Rick easy to hate, as well as easy to love. Or as Vivian describes him “The perfect example of an only child”.
AND THE WINNER IS…
1. Christmas Dinner Gone Wrong – Bottom, 1992
Richie is the quintessential Rik Mayall character: a perverse, eccentric, violent, desperate man from Hammersmith. Bottom was almost a sequel to The Young Ones not because of the reunited cast of Rik and Ade with Christopher Ryan returning as a semi-regular, but because of the brand of dark-meets-slapstick humour. The sitcom focussed on the lives of two men on the dole, living together and trying to ‘pull birds’. It’s Christmas and Rik cooks up his famous curry-sprouts which make the lads fart so violently they catch fire. This all changes when Richie and Eddie find a baby left on their doorstep. Being the festive spirit the dim- witted duo believe it is Jesus, and this was a reason Rik was a virgin all along. The so called ‘Three Kings’ (Eddie, Dave Hedgehog and Spudgun) present the gifts of: Terry’s all gold, a mask of Frankenstein and an aftershave called ‘Grrrr’. That’s right – gold, Frankenstein and grrrr. Close enough. In the end they find out the baby was not sent from the heavens but left at the wrong house. This kind of humour made Bottom essential viewing for any comedy fan.
Feature by Neale McGeever