Phil: Yesterday, when I looked at Facebook or Twitter, my feed was full of people mourning the death of Rik Mayall. Presumably because many of the people I know are a similar age to me, the common factor seems to be his appearance in “The Young Ones” back in 1982.
Rik played, Rick, a self-proclaimed anarchist studying sociology and was exactly the sort of drippy, bad poetry writing, weird student we saw back in those days. Often found behind a table in the local shopping centre flogging Socialist Worker and wearing a donkey jacket to show solidarity with what they imagined to be the working class. You don’t see them since the student grant was scrapped as they all aspire to be capitalist managers.
Anyway, I remember The Young Ones being the sort of programme you watched and then talked about in school the next day. It was edgy and rebellious. Well for a middle class 12-year-old and his friends anyway. If I’m honest, we didn’t get the social commentary but loved the slapstick humour. It was just like watching a cartoon. Vivian could hit Neil or Rick with a frying pan and they bounced back just like Tom and Jerry. Nigel Planner is probably still nailed to the table where he was trying to fix those plates down to stop them being stolen
Mayall had form as one half of “The Dangerous Brothers” fondly remembered from Friday or Saturday Night live on Channel 4 with Rik playing “Richard Dangerous”. No real attempt at “serious” comedy, just slapstick. This contimued with “Bottom” which was basically Rick and Vyvyan in suits and with different hair.
Even his later work on Blackadder was played over-the-top with a verbal slapstick from Flashheart. Rowan Atkinson might have had all the clever lines but Mayall stole the screen when he appeared.
Basically, what I’m saying is that Mayall knew theat fundamentally, slapstick makes everyone laugh and so did those who wrote for him. Clever comedy is all very well but how many Ben Elton routines from the end of “Saturday Night Live” would stand the test of time? I’d still watch “The Young Ones” again though.