Alexei Sayle on Rik Mayall: ‘he loved watching tapes of himself’

The Young Ones co-star pays tribute to the late comedian


He’s the late, great king of anarchic comedy, but Rik Mayall was also charmingly narcissistic. At least according to his co-star on The Young Ones, Alexei Sayle.


“One thing Rik liked to do was he’d bring you back to his flat and make you watch tapes of Rik Mayall,” he told an audience at the Cheltenham Literature Festival. “He watched Rik Mayall like he was a new comic he’d discovered – ‘Rik Mayall’. He’d watch himself with such naïve enjoyment that you couldn’t even be bored, because his enjoyment from watching himself was so deep.”

On a more serious note, Sayle paid tribute to the birth of the alternative comedy movement, comparing the experience to other Liverpool icons.

“Nothing lasts, and that’s one of the beautiful things but also one of the sad things. We were like the Beatles: a gang, us against the world. And that period, it didn’t last, it can’t last, but it was wonderful for a few years. Just to be part of it.”


“Comedy is at its most sublime when it gets a laugh out of nothing. The thing about Rik was he was natural funny.”