Rik Mayall: From 'Young Ones' and 'The Comic Strip' to 'The New Statesman,' A Full Life of 'Alternative Comedy'

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By Ma Evelyn Castino Quilas | June 11, 2014 11:32 AM EST

Emmy Award-winning British comedian Rik Mayall had lived a full life of "alternative comedy" from "Young Ones" and "The Comic Strip" to "The New Statesman." His death on June 9 at a young age of 56 brought tears to many people who knew him.

Dubbed as the "Funniest Man of His Generation," the English writer was one of the creators of the British sitcom "The Young Ones." The anarchic and dangerous sitcom called as "Alternative Comedy" originated from The Comedy Store, London's comedy club circuit during the 1980 era. It was broadcasted on British Broadcasting Corporation Two (BBC2) from 1982 to 1984.

In "The Young Ones," the comedian played the role of Rick, a pompous self-proclaimed radical who exaggerated or lied about his political activism and class background. He shared the sitcom with another comedian Nigel Planner who played the role of a paranoid hippie.

A long-time friend, British Director Peter Richardson fondly recalled the actor in an article from Independent. "So Rik started doing bits from 'The Young Ones'. So did Nigel. I just picture this guy thinking, 'I must have died and gone to heaven and 'The Young Ones' were here to greet him.' He was fine in the end," Richardson stated. 

In the same year, the stand-up comedian also produced "The Comic Strip Presents" with other comedians from The Comedy Store.  It was a long-standing series of fictitious and movielike parodies with 30 minutes air-time per episode.  "The Comic Strip Presents" was originally broadcasted from UK's Channel 4 which later on was also aired on BBC Two and UKTV's Gold.

In "The Comic Strip Presents," Mayall performed double act with another talent Adrian Edmonson as "20th Century Coyote."  Along with the duo, Director Richardson and Planer also performed under the name "The Outer Limits."

Since then Mayall had reached great heights in the "alternative comedy" arena and become a household name. From stage and television, he also explored film, video game, and audio books.

Another long-standing alternative comedy series that Rik Mayall was well-known is "The New Statesman." The British sitcom was broadcasted in UK's ITV and in BBC One from 1987 to 1994 for around 25 minutes per episode. "The New Statesman" spoofed the conservative government in UK during that time.

In "The New Statesman," Mayall played the role of Alan Beresford B'Stard, a selfish, landy, and dishonest right-winged conservative member of the parliament. Sometimes, he murdered people just to achieve his tyrannical ambitions.

Co-writer of "The New Statesman" Maurice Grand recalled how he created the stand-up comedian's dream role in Daily Mail. "To be a brilliant comedian, you have to be funny, sexy, dangerous, the audience must love you, and you have to learn your lines. You've got four out of five of those things - and the lines I can write up on the wall!' Grand stated.

Rik Mayall was nominated for Best TV Comedy Actor at the British Comedy Awards in 1993. He 1997, the actor garnered the award for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance at the Primetime Emmy.

What's the secret behind Mayall's overwhelming success in "alternative comedy"? Grand stated that the actor had a lovely family, he has impeccable manners, and he was brought up well. "At the end of each week's recording, he would individually thank every member of the cast," Grand said.

"The New Statesman" co-writer's statement is indeed right. Rik Mayall's wife and children posted intimate pictures and heart-warming messages on Facebook as tribute to their department head of the family.

"My dad was loved not only by my family, but by many others. We will never forget him and neither will the world.  R.I.P to the man, the myth, the legend - my wonderful, generous, foul mouthed and hysterical father. My idol now and forever.  We love you daddy," said 18-year old Bonnie Mayall, the actor's youngest child.

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