My Comedy Hero: Maisie Adam on Rik Mayall
- Brian Donaldson
- 15 November 2019
As the award-winning Yorkshire comic takes her Hang Fire show across the UK, she chooses the late, great Young One as her comic idol
When you were 12 years old, if someone pointed at a stack of DVDs and said that 'you can watch any of them … except the yellow one', then let's face it, there'd only be one that you'd really want to watch. That yellow DVD – and finding a way to watch it – became the sole focus for my younger brother Danny and I. What did it contain that was so abhorrent? It had a 15 certification, and I had watched Silence of the Lambs at my friend Faye's house on a sleepover and that was an 18; though admittedly, I did wet the bed at Faye's sleepover because I was too scared to go for a wee in the dark in case someone made a skin suit out of me. But still, how bad could this yellow DVD be?!
The film was called Guest House Paradiso and on the cover it had two men. One had long hair, flared nostrils and was grimacing – displaying an abundance of pearly white teeth – as he pulled back on a hooked bar that he'd lodged into the nostrils of a bald man with glasses who was screaming in what looked like excruciating pain. We had to see this film.
I soon smuggled it out by putting the disc inside the case of The Secret Garden and taking it upstairs to watch on our mum's chunky laptop. What followed was 89 minutes of the most outrageous, rude, hilarious, disgusting, foul-mouthed, sexually inappropriate slapstick comedy that Danny and I – with a combined age of 20 – had ever seen. Don't get me wrong, the film is no comedy bible, in fact it was slammed by critics. However, I was totally enthralled by the man with long hair, flared nostrils and pearly white teeth. His facial expressions were so exaggerated, his voice so animated, and his character so eccentric he was like a British Jim Carrey.
Dad soon clocked that Danny and I were quoting the film around the house, but as the damage had already been done, he told us how the film was actually a spin-off from a series called Bottom, and that man had also been in other shows. Thus began a relentless marathon of finding every episode of Bottom, The Young Ones and New Statesman, watching them intently in order to try and emulate the physicality of this brilliant and stupidly silly clown. I love Rik Mayall, because he was so clever about being so silly. For me, that's what comedy is all about.
Maisie Adam: Hang Fire is on tour until Wednesday 5 February.