Utter, Utter B’Stard

Went along to see Rik Mayall’s revival of The New Statesman, The Blair B’Stard Project, on Friday night. I didn’t go expecting greatness, and it wasn’t, but it was perfectly fine entertainment, and worth it just to see Mayall in the flesh, mugging his heart out. The highlight was a prolonged burst of nuclear-scale swearing at the opening of the second act, which is hardly the stuff of timeless theatre, but this was Rik Mayall. If you figure that half the ticket price is for the show itself and half for the experience of seeing in the flesh one of the comic legends of the past twenty-five years, then it represents excellent value.

The New Statesman itself I’d never seen until I picked up the box set last year; they never showed it on Australian TV. It’s a patchy show, but at his best Alan B’stard is as good a creation as any of Mayall’s characters. You really feel the absence of Adrian Edmondson, though—nothing can match the gas-man episode of Bottom (apart from a few other bits of Bottom) or the Rick-and-Vyvyan clashes of The Young Ones.

While I was looking around for Mayall-ana in the week before the show, I found this intriguing page about his first TV appearance. What a frustrating site: all these links to clips and whole episodes of classic UK comedy, and you can only see them if you’re surfing from a registered educational institution.

Actually, I think I found that page when I was looking for Sayle-ana after re-watching series one of Alexei Sayle’s Stuff on DVD a couple of weeks ago. It holds up surprisingly well; I was amazed how much of it I remembered word for word, given that it was hardly ever repeated. For a while in the early ’90s my email sig sported a favourite line from that series: “The North Atlantic sperm whale grows up to 100 feet—which it uses to walk across the sea-bed like a giant centipede.”

11 June 2006 · Comedy

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