Mackenzie Taylor 1978-2010.

Yesterday, I woke up to a text from Jon telling me that comedian and fellow mentalist Mackenzie Taylor committed suicide on Thursday.

Mackenzie at Warning: May Contain Nuts in May this year

I didn’t know Mackenzie well.  I met him when we were both involved in Warning: May Contain Nuts in Berkshire and Sussex, and we spoke very occasionally on Facebook,  but this news was still a shock to me.  The last time I saw him was only last month in Brighton, after the gig.  He was withdrawn and quiet, and I knew he’d been dealing with a lot lately.  But I wasn’t sure if that was just his way- he seemed shy and modest in general, and rather gentle.  (Despite being so tall and strong looking that you could imagine him overturning houses using only his big toe, without flinching).

He had schizoaffective disorder (which he eloquently discusses here), and one of his shows, which he took to Edinburgh, was called, “No Straitjacket Required”.  Most of the routine was about his suicide attempt that landed him in a coma.  In great, stark, unrelenting detail.  Which isn’t- you might think- comic fodder, but it was genuinely funny, arch and humane.  When I saw him perform it, I remember laughing in recognition at his description of the brain-noise of bipolar being like having the worst ever experimental jazz band playing in your head, twenty four hours a day.  I felt warm there, for a second, someone putting into words something I had often struggled to describe. I turned to Robert and said, “I told you!”  I was glad- am glad- there are people out there with the balls to do that.

There’s another comedian who has manic depression called Kim Noble.  One of his shows is named, “Kim Noble Will Die”.  When I see that, my immediate response is, “No he won’t”.    Because I agreed with Mackenzie when he said,

‘I think that laughter can be a coping mechanism. If you can laugh about something you kind of own it. So you have control over it if you can make a joke about it.’

If not quite a confrontation, it is at least peering through the letterbox and whispering, “I see you there”.  It takes away some of its power.  It is partly what I do here.  To see it in its pathos and ridiculousness.  To laugh back.  The mundane details, the colour of your skin, the hours, the dull details of dull pills and dulled days.  You know the reality- you have told everybody and now they know too.  So how can you revisit it?   In a way, the abstraction is protection.  It can’t hurt you.  Or so I had hoped.

It isn’t fair.

I think Mackenzie was brave as all hell.  The huge outpouring of grief with this news shows how loved he was and how missed he will be by those close to him, and by those- like me- who admired him.  Here is a very lovely tribute to him from his friend and colleague at Radio Berkshire, Henry Kelly.  It’s 2 hours and 7 minutes in.

Rest in peace, fella.

8 Responses

  1. My heart goes out to all who love him.

  2. A very funny guy, he made us laugh with an act based on attempted suicide, the comedy equivalent of turning lead into gold. I didn’t know him well but it’s tough to lose a fellow mentalist especially one who brought so much laughter to the world. He’ll be greatly missed by those who knew him and by many who only watched his act.

  3. Rest in peace, McKT: I’m desperately sorry and offer my commisserations to those who knew and loved him.

  4. He made others feel better. His death is loss. People need to laugh and he had comedy skills.

  5. Dear Friends of Mackenzie

    I hope it is ok to post this. We are putting on a comedy night to celebrate his life and raise money for MIND, It would be wonderful if you could all come down a support the night.
    The Laugh Goodbye – Comedy Fundraiser
    Date December 15th 2011
    Time 7.30 -10.30
    A cracking comedy line up to celebrate the life of Comedian Mackenzie Taylor and raise money for MIND.
    Line Up Tom Wrigglesworth, Kevin Shepherd, Joe Wilkinson, John Gordillo, Holly Walsh, Richard Sandling and Tony Law
    Cost £10 in Advance £12 on the Door (all proceeds go to MIND)
    Venue: New Diorama Theatre
    Box Office Number:
    +44 (0)207 383 9034
    Nearest Tube: Great Portland Street/Warren Street/Euston Square
    Bus: New Diorama is directly on the following bus routes: 18, 27, 30, 88, 205, 453, C2, N18

    Many Thanks

    Kate Tucker

  6. […] Comedy Fundraiser for Mind, in memory of Mackenzie Taylor, December 15th In honour of the comedian, Mackenzie Taylor, who died last year, there will be a comedy fundraiser in aid of Mind on December 15th-  Here are […]

  7. […] comments… The Last Goodbye: Co… on Mackenzie Taylor 1978-201…Seaneen on Mackenzie Taylor 1978-201…justcallmeladyKate T… on Mackenzie […]

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