An evening of comedy recollections from one a quarter of the Young Ones, half of Bottom and a small part in Star Wars
You know that moment when you loved something as a teenager, then show it to your kids when they’re teenagers and they think it’s rubbish. The comedy series, The Young Ones, was just this type of thing. When I was a student, it was essential viewing – so different, full of violence, madness and swearing, and as far removed from Terry and June as possible
The other day I showed it to my kids and they didn’t think it was very good.
They were wrong.
And judging by the huge crowd at The Forum in Bath who come along to see one of the stars of The Young Ones, Adrian Edmondson, live on stage in Berserker, a one man show about his life and career, I wasn’t the only one.
With his comedy partner Rik Mayall, Adrian Edmondson was impossibly funny. From The Young Ones to Bottom, The Dangerous Brothers, Guest House Paradiso, Bad News and the Comic Strip, they were the sort of act that worked on your baser comedy delights, with brimfuls of toilet humour, any number of saucepans in the face and loads of loads of swearing.
For this wonderful night of reminiscences and anecdotes, Adrian (a girl’s name, so we’re told) takes us back to his childhood, including a stern father, super religious grandparents and abusive boarding school teachers, through to his comedic origins and even a spot on Star Wars (taken to impress his grandchildren).
Right from the start this is a startling honest journey, with one passage Adrian reads from his book reliving the sexual and emotional abuse he suffered at boarding school, with an aside being directed at high profile abusers of the time, including Jimmy Saville, Rolf Harris and Gary Glitter. With such a brave statement being made on stage, it was then somewhat awkward during the interval to hear a Gary Glitter song being played in the 1970s background music…
From such terrible early experiences, Adrian – I’m not sure when or why he stopped being Ade – took us onto his Uni days and meeting the genius that was Rik Mayall. The two soon bonded and really used comedy as way to get into acting, meeting up with the likes of Jennifer Saunders, Ben Elton and Peter Richardson along the way to help create a fresh new wave of British comedy.
It was slightly strange seeing this older, slightly rotund, balding gentleman on stage talking with such emotion and clear nostalgia for times when he looked quite different. Still, it didn’t take much for the delight at retelling the old stories to bring his youthful fun back into focus.
This was the sort of event that, despite the grandeur and size of The Forum, it still felt strangely intimate, almost like an old friend passing on stories that were part of out lives too – the madness of The Young Ones, the regular A&E visits during the live Bottom shows and being set alight as half of The Dangerous Brothers.
It was wonderful… and sad too, with Ade at point braking down in tears at the recollections of the unsuccessful efforts at a final comedy project with Rik, before answering questions from the audience, including the story behind that role in Star Wars.
In fact, there is so much more to Ade than farts and swearing – actor, writer, prize winning cucumber grower – plus his book Berserker is a genuinely enjoyable read. Even so, I came away from The Forum with the intention of giving my lot one more go at liking The Young Ones, maybe the episode with Motorhead playing in their front room. Come on guys, this is genius…
For details of upcoming gigs and shows at The Forum, Bath, go to www.bathforum.co.uk