By John S.Locke
What do you say when a hero of yours dies?
Especially when he is only 4 years older than yourself.
A man who has been in your life for over 30 years as a part of the consciousness of your generation.
It is surprising how much it has upset me personally, and judging by the continuous stream of beautiful, touching messages, comments and statements of disbelief, grief and genuine sorrow on Social media, I am not alone in feeling a sense of tragic loss at the passing of one of our truly gifted, incredibly individual, genuine, natural talents and obviously the most loved of comedians and actors.
Rik Mayall was a force of nature.
I first saw him literally explode onto my TV screen like an electrically charged, violent, slapstick clown with his lifelong on / off screen partner in madness Ade Edmonson as their alter ego’s, ‘20th Century Coyote’.
I had never seen anything any where near as crazed, dangerously manic or wildly funny.
He and Ade were the post Punk anarchistic embodiment of the burgeoning ‘aLTERNATIVE cOMEDY’ juggernaut which would smash all the velvet jacketed, microphone leaning, wisecracking Saturday night hogging 70’s Stand Up’s and light entertainment has beens off our screens for the next 25 years.
What the Sex Pistols and The Clash did in the late 70’s for a sterile and bloated British Music industry, Rik and Ade did for Comedy in the early 80’s…They were the Johnny Rotten and Joe Strummer of Comedy – they were THAT culturally, innovative and revolutionarily important in the art form of making people laugh.
What captivated me as twenty something when I first became aware of these genuinely and electrically genre changing artists on one of their early TV appearances on the seminal and original ‘Yoof’ TV bible of the 80’s ’The Tube’ was the energy and speed and pure and complete anarchy they brought with them… they were COMPLETELY unique… Nothing had been on our little TV boxes like them before.
They had the cartoon violence of Tom and Jerry doubled with a Punk ethic and slightly camp effete violence, with a nod and a wink to Kenneth Williams, The Crazy Gang, and the Marx Brothers…I fell in love watching that show and I never fell out of love with watching Rik or Ade, together or separately.
The whole ‘alternative comedy’ scene which grew around these two true genius’ could not and would not have happened without their manic energy, hypnotising screen personas and stunning character acting.
Modern comedy and all who came along with them for the wild ride to follow, would not have been the force for cultural change their movement became.
A new comedy scene may have occurred without Rik Mayall and Ade Edmonson but it would not have been any where near the global phenomenon that exploded from a few clubs in Soho, then across the country, onto our Telly screens, into Cinemas and then across the World.
Without Rik it would have not been possible – He was THE STAR! He was the poster boy! He was the catalyst.
He was the Lancelot of alternative comedy and he won the hearts of the ladies and the lads and he made us all laugh until we cried.
I met him once whilst I was running my club night ‘The Blast Club’ in Chester.
It was a Thursday and he was appearing on his theatre tour at The Gateway with the fantastic actor and member of the exclusive alternative comedy family Andy De La Tour ( the brother of the infamous ‘Miss Jones’ of rising Damp fame Frances De La Tour).
They say you should never meet your Hero’s as it often let’s you down.
Rik was a gentleman.
He shook my hand, told me I had a great club, bought me a drink, talked to me on and off for an hour and introduced me to Andy.
He requested the Sex Pistols which I played (even though it was a Rare Groove and Funk club ) and he grinned maniacally and stuck his thumb up to me from the bar.
He stood and talked and signed autographs all night – He then asked me where he could go for a good Indian and left, shaking my hand and saying goodbye and he would ‘call in next time he was in Chester’.
He never did.
He was at the height of his mega 80’s fame at this point but he was down to Earth, friendly, funny a bit manic and everything I hoped he would be or could be.
I have met many, many, many more of the most famous and probably more financially successful (which is often strangely it seems how comedic success is measured nowadays) comedians through my work, social life and business since then, but none of them ever made me feel as proud, excited, starstruck, warm, and genuinely happy as meeting Rik Mayall did.
I met one of my hero’s and he didn’t let me down.
I am incredibly sad knowing he has passed away, especially as his TV career was on the resurgence in the perfectly written and cast role as Greg Davies’ character’s Dad in the superb, suitably insane, maniacal and extremely funny ‘Man Down’.
I was looking forward to series two.
I feel as if I have lost a lifelong friend and it seems so do a lot of us.
Rik Mayall had a lot more to give us, even though he had given us so much of himself already.
Rik Mayall studied Drama in Manchester with Ade Edmonson and Ben Elton – The Young Ones was based on their time in digs whilst they lived here … We are all the richer as a City for it.
‘And all the grown – ups will say, ‘But haven’t you heard? Rick is Dead! The People’s poet is dead!’
R.I.P. Rik Mayall 1958 – 2014
For more great writing for john please visit www.pocketmanchester.com and www.pockettelevision.co.uk