Death: The Final Frontier

This year a lot of people have died. Much fewer famous people have died. My uncle hasn’t died from the Cancer that is attacking his body so all in all, I think its been a draw.

People dying is hard. You might not know a famous person but you are connected to them. It might be a musician that was being played during your first kiss, when you lost your virginity, the first track you heard after your separated from your partner. It could be your father’s favourite song, the song you want played at your funeral or a song your toddler sings mis-heard lyrics to. You don’t know the person other than their music/their films/their words or just their actions. But those things all reach out and touch us differently.

People die, famous people die. We all acknowledge these things differently.

I’ve lived in London since 2013. I moved here for work and a benefit of living here meant that I also got to immerse myself in one of my favourite things, live comedy. It wasn’t until 2014 that I realised that I needed to think about what I wanted.

Richard Herring does a Podcast called RHLSTP (RHLSTP) and he was often talking about trying to get Rik Mayall on there. And this was a show I was determined to go see. I love Rik Mayall and really enjoy Rich’s interview style that felt it would have both encouraged and match Rik’s persona.

2014 Rik Mayall died of a heart attack. My office is next-door to the bench where people left their tribute. I saw them everyday. I saw the crowds of people laying flowers, taking photos and remembering him. He was there in people’s lives during their teenage and young-adult years and reminded them of a certain period of their lives. I didn’t really get Bottom. I watched a LOT of TV growing up but for some reason, Bottom wasn’t a mandatory watching item for me. I did love Drop Dead Fred which was probably my 2nd introduction to Rik, after The Young Ones. The thing with Rik Mayall was I knew I wanted to know more about him and I was disappointed with myself for not watching Bottom the first time round.

What it did tell me was that if I wanted to see comedians/anything I really needed to go do it when I get the chance. Off the back of this I managed to grab tickets to see Frankie Boyle, Michael MacIntyre, Russell Howard…all in intimate venues and not huge O2 style gigs. I do keep going to see stuff and whenever someone is gigging I think, “Go see them now, there is no reason not to.” Instead of, “Don’t worry about getting tickets, you can probably see them another time….” This has also extended to bands and theatre shows.

I guess I’m at an age where people from my youth will be dying. The first celebrity death I remember was Freddie Mercury’s and I remember thinking it will be sad that there wont be any more Queen music (little did I know!) as I really liked it. As an adult it has been this sadness that comes forward when I hear of another performer dying. I haven’t personally known any of them so its not a mournful sadness of them, but it is feeling the loss of their output.

People will die, not matter what I think. All I can do to feel better about it is to make sure I make good on my commitment to see the people who I want to see, be it musicians, actors or comedians.

I’d recommend you do the same. Not ‘before its too late’ but because you want to support these people and what they do. You want them to create more and you want to continue to enjoy the things they produce. You can’t stop people from dying….but you can support them while they are still alive. And that’s what I will be doing – feel free to join me.