Life in the Day: Rik Mayall

by Rik Mayall Interviews And Articles Archive Blog

By Kathy Brewis for The Sunday Times, 24th June 2007

The comic actor, 49, who starred in the 1980s sitcom The Young Ones, is on tour as Alan B’Stard, now a new-Labour convert, in the satire The New Statesman. His wife is Barbara Robbin, a former make-up artist. They live in London and Devon with their children: Rosie, 20, Sid, 18, and Bonnie, 11

I don’t like waking up in strange places, like in somebody else’s house. I keep my eyes closed, slip my hands down under the sheets and check my equipment. Then pretend to stretch, lean over, find out if there’s anyone else in the bed. If they’re asleep, get their wallet.

Not really? I’m just trying to be funny.

Last night was my beautiful wife Barbara’s birthday, so I was up all f***ing night. The kids are grown up and their friends came. Barbara was surrounded by beautiful 18, 19-year-old men being very attractive around her. My secrets are really dull: the responsible dad who gives the kids a lift to school, picks them up, gets them this or that, takes Barb shopping, helps clean the house. I try to be enigmatic. Honesty is very frightening, and so are the few friends you’re honest with.

My day is upside down — the show is only two hours’ work a day, in the evening. Normally I’m not up till midday. I don’t have to be asleep: there’s other things you can do in bed. Then I get whichever hotel I’m in to make breakfast at lunchtime: a bacon sandwich with both mayonnaise and ketchup, and tomato. It has to be toasted — bread’s no good. If you go out for breakfast, people recognise you. I love it, of course. I love being famous! I’ve been famous since I was 17. I’m self-interested, self-obsessed. I find myself fascinating.

I always wear the same clothes: black T-shirt, pair of jeans, pair of boots, and my big coat, no matter what season it is. The writers will have sent me a couple of new gags, and we’ll look at where they could fit in the show. Coffee is very important. I’m not addicted to anything — I’m Rik Mayall — but you’ve got to have a cup to wake up, haven’t you? And another for elevenses, and another when I’m feeling tired… I don’t drink milk. When I was a little boy, it made me bloat up. It’s some health thing — my mummy knows what it is. So I’ll have a double espresso.

I might go for a run, in shorts. I’m not fast, but I’m lengthy. I don’t like swimming: it’s constricting. You’re freer if you run. I like to meet people, as well. I like excitement. You go out for a run and meet someone and something happens. I’m never alone. Human intercourse — physical, mental, emotional communication — is the most pleasurable thing there is. This huge, practically sexual experience — that’s what it’s like with an audience.

There’s fun everywhere. I’ll walk down the street and talk to a complete stranger, someone who doesn’t know me as Rik, and have a little adventure, pretend to be someone else. After 10 minutes they’ll say: “You’re that bloke off the telly, aren’t you? What’s your name?” And I say: “Jennifer. Jennifer Saunders.”

I’ve already got rid of Thatcher — Alan B’Stard did it. I can feel my nation thanking me. And now in our latest show we’ve brought down Tony Blair. In 1997 there was a big party in Downing Street and all the hot new people were asked along. Adrian Edmondson and I were not. We were obviously disapproved of. The following year, Tony got MI5 to assassinate me by fixing my quad bike. When he saw he hadn’t killed me, he decided to give up the fight and just go.

After I smashed my head in, in the accident, I was very ill for a year. I woke up and the world was completely different. Maybe it was a cheap, easy way of getting older. I don’t take as much medication now. God wanted me completely cured. But when you start to get old, your memory starts to go, doesn’t it? I’d like to go back to school. I don’t know how to work computers, and it’s all people talk about — “You’ve just got to look up dot-dot-slash-thingybob.”

It’s very flattering when you have an ego as titanic as mine to know you’re so important you’ve been given two lives.

I was dead for five days: it’s important that I beat Jesus Christ 5-3. I’m not frightened of death. It felt like home. Didn’t feel scary, felt like that’s where you should be. I’d like to be buried, not cremated, so you’re eaten properly. I’d rather become a plate of soil.

I’ve been very happy all my life. I’ve had a f***ing good time. It’s a big piece of luck because I’m shit at everything except acting. Telly is not so welcoming as it was. Oh, yes, at 3 o’clock I always rush to the door to see if anyone’s come to give me a part in a television show. Of course there isn’t, so I weep, alone, for several hours. But you can be funnier in the theatre. There’s no censorship.

Tea time on the road is when me and some very good actors sit around and have some pasta or something.

I don’t like beetroot. I’m known for this. I’m not a big foodie type, it’s just fuel.

We discuss any new jokes, then get ready to do the show.

I like to go out and play afterwards — there’s no point going to bed till about 4am. The others get smashed, but I can’t drink. Two weeks ago I had flu and had to give up smoking. Obviously, I still do three or four grams of crack cocaine a day. And adultery. I do love being a dirty old man. You don’t have to be drunk to be irresponsible. But look, I’m nearly 50.

I don’t have to go disco-dancing or do rude, naughty things. I’m nice. Sensible. I work till I’m exhausted and I sleep when I’m knackered.