Bottom Weapons Grade Y-Fronts!
by Rik Mayall Interviews And Articles Archive Blog
Bent, November 2003
You have been warned! Bottom is back-and this time it’s lavatorial. So you might want to bring along some protective clothing to Bottom: Weapons-Grade Y-Fronts, the new show starring Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson as Richie and Eddie, the brawling, boozing, bungling bickerers who bring a new meaning to the phrase ‘low-life’.
The odd couple-a classic case of “can’t live with him, can’t live without him” – are promising full-on destruction” with what they describe as their “terrifying, brain-shreddingly deafening, rib-splinteringly (technically illegal), insanely anarchic live show.” Featuring the pair who love nothing better than knocking each other’s blocks off, the show aims to be “as explosive as Full Metal Jacket meets Apocalypse Now. In Ipswich.”
Lounging on the sofa of a smart central London hotel like a Roman Emperor waiting to be fed grapes by a nubile slave-girl, Mayall outlines what audiences will require for this rip-snorting night out: “You’d better bring some spare underwear. This time, it’s death and destruction all the way. This is the big one!”
Edmondson takes up the theme, explaining the thinking behind the new show, which has become a much awaited biennial event. “Eddie has always been an inventor of ridiculous machinery,” he says. “But this time he has turned the lavatory into a laboratory – ‘a lav-oratory’ if you will-with the aim of making ‘The Lager of Mass Destruction’. But as a by-product he comes up with an even better device: a time-travelling machine made out of a toilet. It is, of course, called ‘The Turdis’. Eddie and Richie travel back in it to the dawn of time where, to their absolute horror, they discover that nothing has been invented yet-there are no pubs, no birds, no handguns, no lager, no Emmerdale Farm and no porn mags. It’s an absolute disaster!”
The dynamic duo pledge even more mayhem than usual on the Weapons-Grade Y-Fronts tour. “Last time out, both Ade and I ended up in casualty after a performance in Liverpool – I opened up the bridge of his nose with a metal jug and in retaliation he sliced my forehead open with a spade – but if you can believe it, this year’s show has even more danger in it,” says Mayall, rubbing his hands in anticipation. “There are a lot more explosives and violence. In that sense, it may very well be our last ever tour!”
But just why are Richie and Eddie’s violent stage antics quite so breathtakingly funny? “Because watching the show is a sudden release from the usual constraints of polite society,” reckons Mayall. “When you watch that happening to someone else rather than yourself, it brings a tremendous feeling of relief. When you really get into the rhythm of the show, it creates a real rush.
I’ve never been a druggie, I’m embarrassed to say, but you can achieve a similar high when you’re watching Bottom. You can reach this plane of pleasure where laughter and speed and noise all collide. It’s a kind of visual music.”
Die-hard fans will be relieved to hear that Bottom: Weapons-Grade Y-Fronts will offer up the now-customary amount of toilet humour. “Why does something make you laugh?” asks Edmondson.
“From the stage I’ve seen people of all ages absolutely pissing themselves at really good toilet humour. I remember once having to stop performing when I thought an elderly man a few rows back from the front was actually going to die he was laughing so hard”.
So after nearly three decades together, why do Mayall and Edmondson still function so well as a double act? “It only works because we still amuse each other,” Edmondson observes. “After we’ve been off working with other people, it’s so refreshing to laugh unreservedly when we’re back together again.
There are no qualifications when I’m with Rik. We’re very similar. We’re both unashamedly wankers. We’re not worried about our dignity. We’re attracted to failure. Performers like Tommy Cooper, who are always getting things wrong, are much more endearing than comedians who are sassy and smart.”
Finally, the show has a topical title, so does that mean that Weapons-Grade Y-Fronts tackles the theme of war? Not according to Edmondson, “It’s not about war-it’s about the stupid buzzwords that supposedly important people use. We’ve never been strictly political-only strictly funny.”
Edmondson concludes by reciting the Bottom manifesto: “We only have one Agenda-which is to make ’em laugh their bollocks off. Unless they’re birds, of course, in which case the agenda is to make ’em laugh their tits off! Or at least their bras – so that we can get a quick look.”