Amazingly in 1992 Rik did a stand up tour. I was too young to see him in the early 80’s, and had always wanted to see his act live. I thought I had probably miss the chance. So when I spotted an advert in our local paper, of course I grabbed the opportunity…
Ben Elton speaks about Rik’s live act from when they toured in 1984, in the book, Didn’t You Kill my Mother-in-Law? (1989)
Rik and I both wanted to tour, and Rik was a big star so we were able to play two-thousand-seaters; he wanted me to go because we wrote together, and because I was a good support act – and because we were mates. Rik said we must have equal billing and equal money – which is probably the only time a star has ever done that! We had great times; I worked very hard on my set – I worked hard on his set as well – it’s difficult to write for Rik’s live act because it’s really an excuse for him to be brilliant, to be a hilarious person. It was astonishing to watch him do so much with so little. He’s one of the most amazing theoreticians I’ve ever met – I would trust his instincts…he knows how the material will go. It’s difficult to put your finger on why he’s funny – he’s just a genius.
Saturday 13th June 1992
I set off on a warm June evening on the train with my friend to Salisbury. In usual fashion we got to Salisbury early, neither of us liked being late, plus we weren’t entirely sure where the theatre was, ended up walking round in a big circle to find the City Hall.
Once we had found the venue we decided to walk all the way around it, finding the stage door entrance. Noticing some giant posters of Rik Mayall and standing outside the door, was I assumed, one of Rik’s roadies, he was holding a photo of him. He was talking to two other men who looked like they work at the City Hall. In a teenage fangirl impulsiveness, we asked the roadie if we could have a look at the photo he was holding and enquired if they were on sale? He replied, “Oh, I never thought of that!” – Missed opportunity there I thought. Later on we spotted them again and heard them talking about a girl who wanted Rik to mention her birthday, one of them was just about to go and ask Rik if he would do it. We were intrigued, so kept an eye on them, and looked out for anyone who’s birthday it might be. Next we decided to wandered round to the front of the theatre, where I helped myself to lots of leaflets of Rik’s tour.
I was really surprised at the verity of people there that evening. Young, old and even families! One family had two young children with them! The door to the main auditorium was now open, so went and found our seats. In the centre of the stage was a microphone in its stand, with the stage all lit up red. Gradually more people were finding their seats, I was now getting very keyed up and excited, but also a tad bit jealous of anyone sat in the front row! I turned round to see the audience behind me and noticed a sign on the door saying:
‘Tonight’s Show was Strictly Adults Only’.
The lights went down, the audience hushed, then we heard Rik introduce the show and tonight’s support act, Parrot. All I remember about him is that he had very strong scottish accent, and got a lot of heckling from the audience. One man in particular, who called himself Mr Pratt, was a very persistent heckler, it got very annoying. Now time for a 20 min interval, so I thought I’d have another look for any programmes or merchandise to buy, no such luck, so went back to my seat and settled down, ready to enjoy the amazingly brilliant, talented and handsome guy that is Rik Mayall to come on stage.
The lights dimmed at about 8.30pm, the audience hushed, we could hear Rik, starting to talk in the wings, no sign of him yet. Where was he? He kept saying that he was nervous, he didn’t want to come out yet, because he was shitting his pants! He wasn’t even on stage yet and already the audience were in hysterics. Suddenly, out of the blue, he came dashing onto the stage, in a frantic burst of energy, the audience went wild, some fireworks went off and a loud fanfare was played. Once he calmed down, I could see that he was dressed in a white shirt with red braces keeping up his grey trousers. His long hair was stuck up in two ponytails on the top of his head, he said “it was for picking up the chicks!” He told a few jokes I recognised immediately like “I did that with my knob”, and his “got the time on your cock” joke he told at the bottom recording. Plus the infamous:
“What does a man with a two foot cock have for breakfast? Well this morning I had a boiled egg!”.
The energy of the man was unreal, he really didn’t keep still, he was pratting about the stage, pulling faces, quite literally the man was all over the place! He had a really strong loud voice too, one part he started to sing, and didn’t really need the microphone, as his voice was so overpowering. He would do things like, pulling the microphone out of its stand and hitting himself in the face with it, to which his facial expression were hilarious. On the stage was put a table with two bottles of booze (so he said) and a towel. He had now put on his matching grey jacket, not sure why, as it was a really hot evening. Like you’d expect, he was sweating gallons, and it was all starting to seep through his suit. He got a few heckles from that Mr Pratt bloke, but Rik soon put him in his place and didn’t bother him again.
Because he was sweating so much, he decided to pull his hair out of the elastic bands, he made this look very painful, and pinged the bands into the audience. He decided to give a man in the front row a sandwich he had been snacking on, and was asking the people sat there their names, and interacting with them. He moved from one thing to the next with great ease, you just didn’t quite know what was going to come next. I couldn’t keep my eyes off the man, he has an aura that lights up the room with charisma to match. He went into several long monologues and told some jokes like he tells the stories on Grim Tales, except this most definitely wasn’t child friendly material. The audience calmed down a little when he went into his Kevin Turvey routine about Beekeeping, which I totally adored. He talked a bit about Ade, his best friend, “Knock Knock, whos there, Ade Edmondson, Ade Edmondson who?” Then lit up a cigarette and smoked it whilst trying to tell Ades favourite joke, blowing some smoke into a balloon at the same time and letting go of it! ” Pathetic isn’t it” he said…he could make the most bazaar material hilarious. To finish, still with what seemed like so much energy left in the tank, he managed to sing his song “Because I’m Evil”. Dancing around to it all over the stage, whilst still singing. So much energy constantly oozes off the man, it’s unbelievable.
He then walked off, the audience were madly cheering and clapping, he left it a while, then came walking back on, the audience went crazy, but he fooled us, he just crossed the stage and carried on walking off the other side! He did finally come back and told one final joke. It was something to do with a Donkey called Derk and an Alien with a watch…I recognised some of this from one of his warm up jokes at the Bottom recording, but he gave the joke quite a different twist. He took his final bows and went off, now looking quite exhausted and ringing wet! He had been on stage for an hour and a half and he really didn’t stop. He was as manic, playful and over the top as I’d hoped he’d be. Wonderful Manic Mayall, a comedian and performer like no other.
I was 17 and summed up my experience that night like this:
Rik is my favourite comedian, there is something about him that I will always love and like. To watch him perform is a real treat, he puts so much energy and enthusiasm into everything I’ve seen him do. The things he says and does I can watch over and over again. You wait and see, I will still be mad on the guy when I’m in my 40’s married with about two children…
Well the only thing not true in that statement, is that so far, I’ve never got married.
The next day, after absorbing what I’d just seen, I decided to write to Salisbury City Hall. I wanted to tell them how much I’d enjoyed the show, but was disappointed I couldn’t buy any souvenirs. A few days later I received a reply, explaining how it wasn’t their desision, but normally up to the promotors of the show. The City Hall were kind enough though to also send me, two giant A1 and A2 size posters advertising Rik’s tour…This made up for the lack of any programme, I just now had to find enough room on my bedroom walls!