Saturday, 20 November 2010

Mackenzie

This was going to be a post about a delightful little sojourn up north. A post about warm crowds,adapting to northern audiences, coming to appreciate Liverpool as a grown-up and then returning for a triumphant Really Lovely, sold-out and well reviewed.

But today's front page of Chortle changes that. A lovely man, a talented man and a man who popped up more often than not at the start of my comedy career, took his own life on Thursday. Pretty much everything else pales into insignificance against that sentence.

I will be one of hundreds who knew Mackenzie Taylor mildly well. I gigged with him a few times and, as he was good friends with Terry Fromant and John Soffe, I gigged for him as well. At all times, even though the conflict and turbulence within him was apparent - he was a funny, gentle, open, kind and charming human being. I don't think any of us who knew him could imagine the enormity of the effort it took for him to even discuss his condition on stage, let alone create a whole critically-acclaimed show about it.

I remember sharing a pint with him at the start of last years Fringe. He was excited, apprehensive, but mostly bullish about the show. Not just the critical appraisal, but about what it meant to him and what it would do to him. The fact that this year he wrote a sister show called 'Joy', says everything. Here was a man who felt the ups and downs of existence far more than most of us, and it is a real tragedy that on one day, the downs plummeted too far.

I will cherish seeing Mackenzie's routine of a magic trick with his fingers, his ability to reduce me to fits of giggles with silly pronunciations of words and his support and advice when I started out as a comic.

I read of this horrible news as I sat at home preparing for what is undoubtedly the biggest gig of my life tonight. I was feeling a little nervous, apprehensive that I might fail. But not now. Tonight's laughs are all dedicated to a man I knew mildly well, but was immensely fond of and his passing confirms a belief of mine that solidifies with every day. Don't waver in your determination to achieve what you want and don't fail to act, lest you have regrets. And always, always fight the good fight.

RIP Mackenzie, you will be sorely missed.