Their two-hander sketch show Alas Smith & Jones started in 1984 and became famous for their head-to-head dialogues, lit starkly in profile across a table, where they discussed everything from economics to Sixties pop.
The running gag was how seriously they took these inane, barely coherent debates.
His energy for a good time was inexhaustible, and during his womanising years at the height of his fame, he usually carried the party all the way to the bedroom.
But after a succession of semi-steady girlfriends, including comedienne Ruby Wax, he was smitten when he met 40-year-old divorcee Pamela Gay-Rees.
The play was expected to transfer to the West End but Smith’s health was too frail to permit it.
He happily baited the Scottish health and safety jobsworths, though, threatening to light a cigar on stage and reminding everyone that while Churchill would have hated the smoking ban, ‘Adolf Hitler would have been delighted’.
Smith, who died in his sleep from a heart attack on Friday, at the age of 60, grew up in a flat above a fish and chip shop in Chiswick, West London.
His father was a Durham ex-miner who ran a grocer’s that also served as the High-Street betting shop.
When Rowan Atkinson made his Hollywood breakthrough in Bean: The Ultimate Disaster Movie in 1997, which Smith directed, it seemed Mel’s fortune was made.
But the years of full-throttle living had taken their toll.