MY COMEDY HERO
I’m an enormous fan of Alistair Sim and no one has been a better Scrooge than him. There’s something very real and humane but also very otherworldy too, which few comic actors have. It would be ridiculous not to include Laurel and Hardy; just that slow look to the camera as the final pot of paint falls on Oliver Hardy’s head. I won’t even bother with Peter Cook and that lot because it’s too obvious.
But I decided I would go with my teenage comedy hero, the kind of person who I would scrawl the names of his shows onto my exercise book and rucksack: Rik Mayall. He’s going through a kind of doldrums period but if you look at what he created in the early 80s, the manic intensity of his performances is just phenomenal. I didn’t go to the New Statesman stage show for similar reasons why I wouldn’t go to a Smiths reunion. Where it went wrong for him was that moment which happens to a lot of actors and musicians when the ego perhaps gets too much in the way and they get an anger and annoyance when new, younger people come along; it’s like this midlife crisis that they’re no longer the angry young bucks. He was the perfect small screen comic, which is why things like Drop Dead Fred didn’t work; on the big screen, the manic intensity just seems like a man showing off, on the small screen it’s something more repellent. (Interview by Brian Donaldson)
The Stand, Edinburgh, Tue 21 Nov; the Stand, Glasgow, Wed 22 Nov.