The Young On-Ones

by Rik Mayall Interviews And Articles Archive Blog

For NME, 8th July 1995

Since the Government aren’t doing much, it’s been left to comedian Rik Mayall to make a video warning ‘young people’ about the perils of drugs. Sylvia Patterson just says no.

Drugs are really great. Unfortunately, they can also kill you. Such is the ‘controversial’ truth at the core of Rik Mayall’s new video, Out Of My Head; an hour-long comedy-educational affair presented by Britain’s Bottom Light Entertainer (hor hur!) pondering the drugs imbibed by you, the kids.

You may already know that drugs-are-really-great-unfonunately-they-can-also-kill-you but here, “for the first time ever” (say the makers) is “the reality. ‘Just say no’ doesn’t work, with this you can learn the facts and then make up your own mind”.

Cue, then,several characters pointing the way in a fairly jocular fashion: Ricky (Rik as an idiotic student on a flying sofa), a fact fuelled Doc (Rik with the neurological facts), a rozzer, two grannies talking dbout sniffing butane out of condoms… all spiralling round in flameflickering graphics to a yoof-friendly soundtrack (Blur, Elastica, Portishead).

It’s the testimonies of the interviewed young folk, however, which stirs the ‘controversy’ (and also causes one to speculate how any of them are still upright after prolonged dabblings in glue/spliff/speed/El cocaine/crack/heroin). You may be aware of the ‘facts’ (cannabis is worse for the lungs than fags; get caught sporting three Es and you could be flung in chokey for five years; Hitler took speed every day) but you might indeed ‘learn’ from their tales (sniffing petrol can give blokes hardons; if you play pool on acid you may see the balls have a jolly good laugh in your face before they grow legs and throw themselves down the pocket).

However, it’s the grim side that you’re here to take heed of and the many cautionary tales includes “frothy blood coming out my mouth”, “I’m an addict”, “three of my mates are dead” etc. Which is all fair enough, as it happens, except the video costs £12.99 and it should be the Government’s concern to tell you all this for nought pence. Also it’s an 18 certificate aimed at 18-25-year-olds when in reality most 18-25-year-old drug dabblers are either already experts, now into real estate or dead.

Hence, then, we’re in a room above a West London pub for a press conference where we are encouraged to imbibe much free booze and fags and vomit copiously upon the ‘buffet’ (some avocado on a stick).

Posh woman: “So, Rik, why did you get involved with the project?”

Rik Mayall: “Well, I always like working with Malcolm (Genie, MD of the video’s producers Initialand the man behind Channel 4 Goes To Glastonbury and billions of actually-very-top-indeed programmes) and… (snare snore)… information without being patronising.”

Posh woman: “Did you, Rik, have a favoured drug when you were younger?”

Rik: “No. My experiences at school taught me that acid was what you did if you wanted to jump out the window and die so I was put off from an early age. I think I was between generations, I’m nearly 40 now, I was in that sort of drab Barry Blue area so we were all into glittery trousers. I’m a whiskey man, myself.”

Crowd: “Hur hur hur!”

NME: “Must have been tons of spliff in the mid-’70s, mate! All that hair, all those Yes albums…”

Rik: “Well, there was one occasion where one of The Coronas played and a few hippies rioted but apart from that there wasn’t an awful lot going on in Worcestershire.”

NME: “D’you think ‘the kids’ do more drugs today than when you were one of ‘the kids’?”

Rik: “Well, I don’t really know any kids, to be honest with you.”

NME: “Well if you did you’d know drugs information should be given to 12-18-year-olds who are lamping seven Es down their necks and dying on the pavement.”

Rik: “Well, you may be right but then you enter into a whole quagmire of legality and public outrage. I only get my information from you people and the newspapers and they’re full of Ecstasy stories and death.”

NME: “And you’ll have the wobblers, being a father an’ all?

Rik: “Well, Sid, as far as I know, hasn’t done any crack yet. He’s only six.”

Crowd: “Hur hur hur!”

NME: “It’s really the Government’s job, isn’t it?”

Rik: “Hmmn, but it’s still better than no information at all.”

Big wig video woman: “…And I think we’ll have to end the questions there.”

Thought so. We await an audience with Rik, For three hours. And pass some time talking to a nice woman called Laura from an NHS drug agency who tells us it’s “money, as usual” which stops the Government dealing with drug information and how her agency’s work is minimised because people don’t go there until they have a problem: “And most people don’t even know they’ve got a problem because they’re having such a bloody good time — but it could get out of control and that’s why they need information. The bottom line is, if you take drugs you have to know how to control them.”

She thinks the video is “radical and very funny. I hope I4-year-olds do get hold of it.” Her poison? “Stolly and slim-line tonic, actually.”

Oh look — there’s Rik!

Rik: “Ah yes, the NME.”

NME: “So. You reckon all drugs except whiskey are rubbish, eh?”

Rik: “No, I’m not here to preach to anybody, all I want to do is get some information out there. I’m just the git who did the gags. Like I said, I was born in the wrong generation.”

NME: “Cobblers. Every generation does drugs, it’s part of the human condition. What about…, er, the Egyptians!?” (Sorry about this.)

“Well,” snorts an appalled Rik, before bolting into the night, “I’ve got enough mental problems as it is. Y’know?”

And there we have it. Drug culture stirs in its rehab unit and keels over on a bed-pan once again. We are all of us born in the stars, but some of us are falling over in the gutter. Or something.