Tuesday, June 10, 2014


It looked like Tracy Morgan was in trouble, but it seems he's going to pull through from some very serious injuries.  But now out of nowhere we hear Rik Mayall had died. Mayall may not be that well known on this side of the pond--his best known project here is probably the title character in Drop Dead Fred--but he was a mainstay of British comedy for the last thirty years.

The part that made him famous, and still his greatest creation, I'd say, is Rick from The Young Ones.  (Many Americans may remember it as it was shown on MTV in the 80s.)  The show, created by Mayall and a couple friends, first aired in 1982.  It announced a new generation of comedy in Britain, the biggest breakthrough since Monty Python debuted over a decade earlier.

The concept was simplicity itself--four college students living in one flat.  But that was just an excuse for an odd mix of anarchy and surrealism like nothing else on TV.  Mayall's Rick was perhaps the central character, if only because he was the biggest whiner.  Rick was a common enough type--the self-proclaimed radical whose main politics was selfishness.  He was an annoying poseur, a bad poet, and a Cliff Richard fan.

Mayall went on to do many other shows, sometimes fairly different from The Young Ones (like his guest shots on Blackadder) and sometimes an expansion of his work there--as if we were seeing what would happen when Rick got older.

He was in a serious accident in 1998 that left him in a coma, but it's not clear at present if that contributed to his death.  All we know now is he's gone, at only 56.


Anonymous Denver Guy said...

He was very good as King Herod in the 2000 production of "Jesus Christ Superstar."

"Prove to me that you're no fool.
Walk across my swimming pool!"

2:29 PM, June 11, 2014  

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