Life Lessons From Rik Mayall

Sad news this morning, as British comedy legend Rik Mayall has passed away. For Lifehacker readers of a certain age, The Young Ones provided all sorts of inspiration — some of it more practical than others.

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Like most people my age, I was particularly obsessed with The Young Ones, which Mayall co-wrote with Ben Elton and Lise Mayer. The Young Ones is still my go-to quote source (sure, other people have The Simpsons, but it lacks The People’s Poet) — and it’s one that’s rich in Lifehacker-esque lessons for us all, especially given Rick’s general position as the straight man prior to the punchlines. (Note for pedant newbies: on the show, Rik played a character called Rick.)

On the importance of accuracy
Rick: What are you doing, Vyvyan?
Vyvyan: I’m entering a contest to win a Ford Tippex. You have to say what Cornflakes mean to you in 10 words. So I said: Cornflakes. Cornflakes. Cornflakes. Cornflakes. Cornflakes. Cornflakes. Cornflakes. Cornflakes. Cornflakes.
Rick: Pathetic! You’ll never win, Vyvyan.
Vyvyan: Why not?
Rick: It’s only nine words.

On why you should never play Monopoly
Rick: Hey, wouldn’t it be amazing if all this money was real?
Vyvyan: That is the single most predictable and BORING thing that anyone could ever say whilst playing Monopoly.

On the importance of “improvisation”
Rick: We’re getting thrashed, we’re getting completely thrashed. Isn’t there some way we can cheat?

On tenancy negotiations
Rick: Why did you throw the toilet out of the window?
Vyvyan: To lower the rent.
Rick: Of course, stupid old me. Just one other thing, what are you talking about?
Vyvyan: Now we can go to the rent tribunal, you don’t have to pay as much for a house with an outside lavvy.

On why good poetry matters
Sometimes it must be difficult, not to feel as if
You really are a cliff
When fascists keeping trying to push you over it
Are they the lemmings, or are you Cliff?
Or are you, Cliff?

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