comedy, music

Before and after Spinal Tap — Bad News

I always enjoyed the short mockumentary Bad News Tour, which was actually released shortly before This Is Spinal Tap. It was a Comic Strip production featuring a lot of the regulars — three of the four Young Ones, plus Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French.

I had never seen the follow-up from five years later, reuniting the band for a record contract and appearance at the Monsters of Rock festival. (To film it, the “band” — I use that term loosely because there’s no evidence that Rik Mayall had any idea how to play bass — actually played at the Monsters of Rock festival.)

The result is a rarity: The sequel is better than the original. It’s longer, so there’s more time to develop the personalities. Adrian Edmondson’s Vim Fuego has delusions of grandeur only slightly dimmed by the full knowledge that his band is crap. Mayall’s Colin Grigson is a poseur who tries to hide his upper-middle class upbringing, his university studies, and the fact that he lives at home with his doting mom. Peter Richardson, the Comic Strip producer who did not join The Young Ones cast, is the most stereotypical hard-rock guy in the band, actually living the life of drug and drink excess. I’m a little disappointed in Den Dennis, Nigel Planer’s dim-witted guitarist, but his final monologue is a classic.

They also have some dead-on satire of the music biz. The record contract they sign is patently absurd. Their music video shoot is out of control. The final scene, which I won’t spoil here, has a brilliantly ghoulish take on the band’s future.

You can rent More Bad News at Amazon along with other Comic Strip features. The original Bad News Tour is also there in Season 1.

And if you want a small dose of the band in action, check out their version of Bohemian Rhapsody, which treads the line between hilarious and unlistenable.

Or just watch them lip-sync it with embarrassing results on a British talk show:

comedy, tv

Rik Mayall, the people’s poet

The death of Rik Mayall is profoundly sad news for those of us who grew up as fans of The Young Ones and were always sorry that they only ever made 12 episodes. I was actually planning to start a movement to have the guys reunite for a short series called The Old Ones, in which Rick, Vyvyan, Neil and Mike were thrown together in a retirement home.

I believe it’s proper English comedy etiquette to mourn such a loss by keeping a sense of humor about it. With that in mind, here’s a classic moment from The Young Ones:

I feel sorry for you, you zeroes. You nobodies. What’s going to live on after you die. I’ll tell you — nothing! That’s what!

This house will become a shrine! And punks and skins and Rastas will all gather ’round and hold their hands in sorrow for their fallen leader! And all the grownups will say, “But why are the kids crying?’ And the kids will say, ‘Haven’t you heard? Rick is dead! The people’s poet is dead!”

Then one particularly sensitive and articulate teenager will say, “Why kids? Do you understand nothing? How can Rick be dead when we still have his poems?!”

Then another kid will say …

Couldn’t say it any better myself.