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British comedian Rik Mayall dies at 56

LONDON — Rik Mayall, one of a generation of performers that injected post-punk energy into British comedy, has died. He was 56.

Mayall’s management firm Brunskill Management said the comedian died at his London home on Monday. In the 1980s, Mayall was part of the Comic Strip, a hugely influential group of alternative young comics that included Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders and Mayall’s writing and performing partner, Adrian Edmondson. He was best known for co-writing and performing in The Young Ones, a sitcom about slovenly students that was much loved by those it satirized. On television he memorably played Conservative politician Alan B’stard in the sitcom The New Statesman and lecherous Lord Flashheart in comedy classic Blackadder.

He and Edmondson also created and starred in Bottom, a surreally violent slapstick series about two unemployed slobs.

Film appearances included the title role in 1991 fantasy Drop Dead Fred — which gained him a US cult following — and 1999 British comedy Guest House Paradiso.

“There were times when Rik and I were writing together when we almost died laughing,” Edmondson said. “They were some of the most carefree, stupid days I ever had, and I feel privileged to have shared them with him. And now he’s died for real. Without me. Selfish bastard.”

The cause of death was not immediately disclosed. London’s Metropolitan Police force said officers had been called to the house by the ambulance service yesterday, but that the death was not believed to be suspicious. In 1998 Mayall was on life support and in a coma for several days after an all-terrain vehicle accident. “The main difference between now and before my accident is I’m just very glad to be alive,” Mayall said last year. “Other people get moody in their 40s and 50s — men get the male menopause. I missed the whole thing. I was just really happy.”

AP

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