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Monday, 9 June 2014

RIP bwilliant genius

Rik Mayall was a bit of a teenage comedy hero of mine. A comedy genius.

After a childhood of situation comedies that were dodgy to say the least, and sixties hangover, sexist nonsense from various comedians and double acts, The Dangerous Brothers were, well, dangerous, anarchic and coincided well with my own rebellion.

 My comedy rebellion years were populated by Not the Nine O'Clock News, followed by The ComedyStrip Presents and The Young Ones.
Kicking out at the establishment. The punk and post punk of comedy. Satire and just mayhem; adults behaving badly; breaking the rules of what we were fed via the tube, along with The Tube, Morrissey, The Cure, Souxsie and Jools groovy fuckers, Rik and Ade slew the sexist, racist, scapegoating comedy and Sun culture that surrounded us. Thatcher and Major's downfall was partly due to them, every bit as much as the rubber Spitting Image puppets.
Where are the Riks, Ades and Fluck and Law's today? Where is the satire that will save us from the increasingly B'Stard-ised Westminster main parties? B'Stard- the satire Farage modelled himself on.

 I wasn't a fan of Bottom etc, but Rik's other, studenty, nerdy but totally dangerous, bordering on insane characters were 'bwilliant,' as one of his best known characters was prone to say. His characters in Blackadder were typically over the top, but genius, and Alan B'stard was surely based on quite a few of the shady Thatcherite, Tory characters who used Scotland's oil in the pretence of promoting their dreadful, community and industry wrecking policies as somehow "successful."
 Genius, lefty, alternative, political and yet he managed to wind up all of those who would have lefty pretensions. I'm sorry to see him go. RIP, Wwrick...


  1. The loss of Mayall was a huge shock. He was indeed a comedy genius. It's amazing how often comedy (particularly sitcoms) can grow stale, formulaic and played out for cheap laughs with mindless punchlines and offensive stereotypes. Every now and then, however, a school of comedians come along to shake up the rotting status quo.

    Mayall really was a key player of the rebellious comedian uprising during the 1980s. I wasn't alive in the 80s, so I will never truly know what it was like for those who witnessed such a new school of comedy bleeding into the public conciousness, but from what I understand, it was much needed during that period. The satirical nature of Not the Nine O'clock News, Spitting Image, The Young Ones etc fired back at the poisonous political establishment which were tearing communities apart during that era.

    This post reminds me of how comedy can be more than just cheesy one-liners, corny punchlines and offensive stereotypes lacking any substance. Comedy can be rebellious, critical of the society surrounding it and ever changing in how it executes its humour (it can be other things as well of course, but I digress).

    The satirical nature of these comedies not only keep things fresh within the genre itself, but can act as a tool of rebellion against those exploiting their power. But you know more about this than I do, so there's no need for me to dumb down any further what you've already established so well within this post.

    You raise a very good point though. A point which has been bugging me for numerous years now - where are these sorts of comedies today? Because seriously, if there's any other period where we need great rebellious comic minds to hold up a mirror for society to see it for its own ills, it's today. With the rise of right-wing parties, rich/poor divide, Westminster exploiting democracy, out-of-control corporations draining financial/natural resources for selfish ideological needs, institutions like GCHQ compromising the privacy of its citizens, phone-hackings committed by the media, dangerous scare-mongering instilling fear amongst many and all the other ills that have amplified in recent years; we really do need shows such as Spitting Image to shine a light on the monstrosities of contemporary society and add a bit of jazz to our current cultural output.

    Mayall's work may have not been so great toward the end of his career, but those earlier years contributed to a movement within comedy which added some spice to what was arguably - at the time - a genre drying up.

  2. Comedy and music took on thatcher in the eighties. Very little of either does the same nowadays, there is no Red Wedge, because the Labour Party are so close to the Tories, and really became worse than them during the noughties as a party of war, cuts and profit. There is little to goad the Tories/ LibDem's with because the alternatives are either righter wing, or right wing.

    I do like Frankie Boyle though - and I suppose, almost grudgingly, Russell Brand. though Russell's "journey" needs to veer away from Russell. his support for the families in those houses in London, against their landlord, was commendable. As is his anfifa stance

    Have you seen Mayall's speech to Exeter University? Its beautiful - http://youtu.be/1jjFEFyI8FU


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