Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Rik Mayall

The passing of Rik Mayall is to be mourned. He was in so many great things and, given that we're now ruled by a bunch of Alan B'Stards, his talent certainly hasn't lost its relevance. But it is the more slapstick element of his work that deservedly gets remembered best.

It's hard to convey just how genuinely anarchic the Young Ones was at the time. We still lived in a land where telly was saturated with that accent - surely the only one on Earth not based on geography - that you only really hear on the Queen these days. It was years before the likes of Viz appeared. Even the cutting edge, bubble-popping satire like Not The Nine O Clock News seemed like it was talking about the right values but in that same cosy way as everything else. No use to you if you were growing up in a northern town nobody had ever heard of.

The Young Ones didn't politely ask for anything, they took a space and fizzed with a wild energy that was at once intelligent and puerile. It wasn't just funny, it was recognisable. It was the only thing apart from music that was allowed on telly that said 'don't let them fool you into being boring, you really can stay yourself'.

This gag about the people's poet being dead has an extra resonance on this sad day. But it also tells us an eternal truth - every joke should end with the teller vigorously shitting themselves.

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