In ‘Bottom’ Rik Mayall was blown up, electrocuted, stabbed, dismembered, bashed with several dozen frying pans, and had so much random violence visited upon him by Ade ‘Eddie Hitler’ Edmondson he should have died a thousand comedy deaths. So it’s all the more ridiculous that in real life he should be taken from us by a painfully ordinary heart attack.
Like most people, I first saw Rik Mayall in ‘The Young Ones.’ It was the show that really nailed all the silliness, vanity and confusion of the early 80s. And although Rick was the most grotesque creation of all the characters in the student house, he was perhaps the one who revealed the most truth – or the real horror – that lay only partially concealed in us all.
I’ve been watching old episodes of ‘Bottom’, and it struck me that I was watching a Master Class in clown (note the use of capitals there). Bottom is terrific and very violent slapstick. Put red noses on the actors and hey presto, welcome to the circus.
But Rik Mayall was a particularly interesting clown specimen. Whether he knew it or not, his clown was a perfectly crafted bouffon. Had he studied it? I don’t know.
Here’s a description:
“According to Gaulier, Bouffon is an art form which originated with the 'Ugly People' of France during the French Renaissance. Gaulier said excessively ugly people, lepers, and those with disfiguring scars or deformities were "banished to the swamp." The exception was during festivals, when the bouffon (or ugly people) were expected to entertain the 'beautiful people.
During these performances, the buffon's goal was to get away with insulting or disgusting the beautiful people as much as possible. Typically, the Bouffon would target their attack on the leaders within the mainstream of society, such as the government or the Roman Catholic Church.” –Wikipedia.
Not a million miles from Rick in the Young Ones?