First Class Mayall

by Rik Mayall Interviews And Articles Archive Blog

For the Record Mirror, 4th February 1989

Manic Rik Mayall has emergec as the comic face of the Eighties with characters like Kevin Turvey and MP Alan B’stard. But despite his success, he says he’d much rather be on stage at a heavy metal festival being showered with – ahem, piss. Chris Twomey ducks for cover.

Ten years ago, as a member of Twentieth Century Coyote, Rik Mayall was described as “a very talented young maniac”. It was a prophetic remark by the critic James Fenton (then of the Sunday Times), who was one of only two people in the audience watching Mayall’s piss-take of a wellknown play called Warp (his version was called Wart).

He has since, of course, become one of the most durable comedy actors of the Eighties. Switching from a hedonistic delinqent to a shifty and unscrupulous MP to a children’s storyteller, he’s almost impossible to pin down. So, will the real Rik Mayall please stand up?

“I named him after a family who used to live next to me in Droitwich. He was just supposed to be boring and talk in a Brummie accent. That was it, really! I developed the boredom thing to its eventual death.”

“I wouldn’t want to live down the character of Rick or that expectation of being over-energetic and mad. It’s very exciting when people come to see me live, and they really don’t know what to expect.

“That’s one of the reasons I don’t like giving interviews very much, because this nice polite man comes along and says, ‘Hello, I’m crazy and mad’. It gives the game away!”

“We all grew up professionally and we all think everyone else is great! It sounds terribly incestuous, but if I need a brilliant film actress to play an insane heroin addict, I’ll think of Jennifer Saunders before anyone else. Or if I want someone called Eddie Trousers to come and beat me round the head and drink a pint of vodka, I’ll think of Adrian Edmondson.

“I’ve always thought the only way to get anywhere is to form your own gang and push your way through.”

“I did it really because it was so unlike what you’d expect. Although I enjoy storytelling, I enjoy doing things people don’t like me doing. Just being bloody-minded really!”

“We did a gig at the Marquee a few weeks ago, and Nigel got hit by a beer can. It split his nose and he had to have three stitches. It was great! I paid the guy a lot of cash to do it!

“One of the reasons we keep Bad News going is that it’s one of the few opportunities we have for the four of us to get together.

“I don’t think we’ll bother doing another LP. It was a bit of a bore sitting around a studio for three months listening to people tuning their instruments. Being on the road was fantastic, though. We like playing live gigs best, I think. We played Castle Donington and Reading, where the headbangers threw bottles of urine at us. Great stuff!”

“I like doing videos because it’s the nearest you can get to either mime or silent comedy. The trouble is, the ones I do tend to be for bands that die a death.

“I did a great one for an HM band called Lionheart. I played an evil scientist who tortured models … (demonic laughter.)

“I’m torturing these models when the band arrive in a helicopter and their guitars turn into machine guns. They kill me and then run off with the models and snog them!”

“I wanted to do less shouting and explore something else. Don’t forget by then I’d done two series of The Young Ones, one series of Filthy, Rich and Catflap and a series of the Dangerous Brothers. That’s a hell of a lot of shouting!

“I’m still after this bastard I’ve been trying to get to grips with for years. He’s been present, to a certain extent, in Rick, Richie Rich and Kevin. There’s a whole synthesis of adult unpleasant comedy in The New Statesman.”

“The Comic Strip is really in the hands of Peter Richardson now, who I feel sorry for because I think he’s a genius and Channel Four don’t fully appreciate his talents. I think it’s a real shame.

“We’ve come up with several scripts since the last series, all of which have been thrown out of the window.”

“I haven’t really liked any of the characters I’ve played, but I think he’s the character I like the least – although I possibly feel the sorriest for. He doesn’t know it, but he’s desperately lonely. But he’s such a bastard! What do you want me to say? I don’t want to marry him.”

“Some time in February or March I’m going out on the road with a new show. Ben Elton’s expressed an interest in coming along, but then there’d be a battle over who’s top of the bill and we don’t want to turn into Tarby and Lynchy!

“I’m doing a series for ITV in April called Grimms Tales (semi-animated fairy tales), then there’s talk of a film in the summer and a play in the autumn. I’ve always wanted to play on every stage there is.”

“I’d much rather have piss thrown at me at Castle Donington to be honest… but then I’m an old pervie!”