Writers Influences 8: Anthony Briscoe on Rik Mayall

Since starting off the writer’s influence series for the Sunday Tribune earlier in the year, some of the influences writers disclosed have being really surprising; from poets to punk singers to philosophy writers, but Anthony Briscoe’s second choice as an influence was a real surprise, Rik Mayall.

Most famous for his work in series such as The Young Ones, Filthy, Rich and Catflap , Black Adder, The New Statesman and Bottom — Anthony (or Ant to me) reflects “six years ago I just got told I’ve just passed the teaching portion of my PGCE with a level 1 in teaching (one of my proudest moments) only to be told directly after, my hero Rik Mayall had just died (pretty much ruined it). Rik is a genuine hero of mine. I wrote my entire UCAS application about how I want to be him and why. That got me into university somehow…”

“It’s the only ‘celebrity’ death that has ever truly affected me,” he carries on, reflecting my own views there, owing to the fact he was only 56 when he died. “I watch the young ones and bottom all the time, have done since I can remember, with my dad and brother. It makes me laugh still and I’ve seen them more times than I think I can count. Always cheers me up and a lot of it is down to Rik just being Rik. He (Rik) epitomises exactly what and who I want to be as a performer and in some ways his attitude to performance and it’s benefits influences me as a person too.

He once said, ‘I may be gloriously stupid but if it helps people forget the grimness of life, then I’m happy.’ That’s exactly how I feel about myself and in a way how I feel my role in life is. I’m may be a daft man, ridiculous even but I love to make people laugh and I myself love to laugh too,” he explains, drawing comparisons between his own work and Riks. “It’s the best. Laughter is like a smile cranked up to max. It can completely change your mood, bring you out of a hole, or at the very least stop you worrying about life and life’s problems; even for the shortest time which to some can be incredibly freeing. That’s what I try to do (not always successfully – my apologies to those who actually know me in person) but if I can make someone laugh then maybe, just maybe I’ve made their day a little bit better and I had fun too. It’s a win win. That may make me ‘gloriously stupid’ that’s fine but as Rik said — then I’m happy.”

“Anarchic silliness was mainly Rik’s comedy, again pointing out the absurdity of life,” Ant concludes by reflecting on his work in Filthy, Rich and Catflap — where they end up on TV AM which at the time left me completely shocked “and that again is where I want to be as a performer from my heartbreak poem Sold Out, in which I talk about being heartbroken by selling real life products to you, or my poem about wanting to have pints with David Attenborough, resulting in us both getting wasted, I want talk about the absurdity of life and silliness of life. It’s weird that I genuinely feel like I owe him for all the stuff his performances have given me and I never met the guy. He’d probably tell me to piss off by flicking the v’s and quite rightly. He’s dead though, the people’s poet is dead. Thank you Rik and good b*stard.”

Richard Michael Mayall (7 March 1958 – 9 June 2014) was an English actor, comedian and writer. Mayall formed a close partnership with Ade Edmondson while they were students at Manchester University and was a pioneer of alternative comedy in the 1980s.

An unofficial website for Rik Mayall can be found here https://www.rik-mayall.com/

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Anthony Briscoe is a performance poet and socially engaged artist from Blackpool, currently living in Manchester. His Poetry ranges from socio-political commentary, space, advertisements replacing love and even clown funerals. Anthony likes to mix the serious and the silly to discuss meaningful issues through an absurdist lens, using his background in theatrics (BA HONS in contemporary theatre – Lancaster university) to add an energetic, engaging and entertaining performance to all his material.

You can find him on Facebook. www.facebook.com/anthony.briscoe.58

His debut show Sold Out can be seen here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbhR1JVGnwQ&t=3s

Andy N is the author of four full length poetry collections - the most recent being the Streets were all we could see. He is also the host / creator of 'Spoken Label' - a author / writer chat series as well as Podcast series such as Reading in Bed, Comics Unity, Wrestle-Up and the Koll, Andy N and Amanda show. He also ambient music under the name of Ocean in a Bottle. His official blog is onewriterandhisplc.blogspot.com Occasionally he does sleep.