There's a scene in 1996's Trainspotting where Renton (Ewan McGregor) and Sickboy (Jonny Lee Miller) sit on a grassy knoll shooting BBs at a dog's rectum and discussing the slow decline in quality of the James Bond films. By way of explanation, Sickboy offers the following platitude:
Sick Boy: It's certainly a phenomenon in all walks of life.
Renton: What do you mean?
Sick Boy: Well, at one time, you've got it... and then you lose it... and it's gone forever. All walks of life: George Best, for example. Had it, lost it. Or David Bowie, or Lou Reed...
Renton: Some of his solo stuff's not bad.
Sick Boy: No, it's not bad, but it's not great either. And in your heart you kind of know that although it sounds all right, it's actually just... shite.
Renton: So who else?
Sick Boy: Charlie Nicholas, David Niven, Malcolm McLaren, Elvis Presley...
Renton: OK, OK, so what's the point you're trying to make?
Sick Boy: All I'm trying to do is help you understand that The Name of The Rose is merely a blip on an otherwise uninterrupted downward trajectory.
Renton: What about The Untouchables?
Sick Boy: I don't rate that at all.
Renton: Despite the Academy Award?
Sick Boy: That means fuck all. It's a sympathy vote.
Renton: Right. So we all get old and then we can't hack it anymore. Is that it?
Sick Boy: Yeah.
Renton: That's your theory?
Sick Boy: Yeah. Beautifully fucking illustrated.
Well, actually, it was more like "Sowae allgit old an' cannoe hackitaymoe," thanks to the pair's impenetrable Scottish brogues. And sure, the philosophy's been expressed elsewhere-probably by philosophers, I can't be bothered to check; and most definitely by Neil Young ("It's better to burn out than to fade away"). But I can't think of anyone who's put it as succinctly or as cruelly:
You get older. You can't hack it anymore.
In the pages that follow, we've put forward five comedians who, at one point in their otherwise stellar careers, started to age, as tends to happen. There was a time when their names were spoken in hushed, revered tones. Then, at some point, they became That Old Guy Who Voices The Groundhog in That Shitty Kid's Movie.
Tragically, it's doomed to happen to us all, at some point (getting older, not voicing cartoon groundhogs). Read on to find out when it happened to them.