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Frankie Boyle, Hammersmith Apollo | reviews, news & interviews

Frankie Boyle, Hammersmith Apollo

Frankie Boyle, Hammersmith Apollo

Glaswegian shockmeister is very funny but bludgeons with bad-taste jokes

Frankie Boyle: Frequently funny, always scabrous but too often offensive

The last time I saw bouncers standing at the foot of the stage at a comedy venue was at a Roy "Chubby" Brown gig. Back then, I remarked how nicely behaved his fans were, as indeed were Frankie Boyle’s last night; however, another quality the two comics share is that they both score pretty highly on the offensiveness scale.

So is it that Glaswegian Boyle, whose latest show is entitled I Would Happily Punch Every One of You in the Face and who frequently addresses his audiences as cunts and fuckers, can talk the talk but would run away squealing were one of his audience to mount the stage and invite him to take it outside now, pal?

I don't know if the ex-alcoholic - he mentions his drinking days in a brief and very funny anecdote early in the show - was of the gimme a kiss or the Glasgow kiss school of drunk. Whichever, the former shouty star of BBC Two’s Mock the Week - who describes himself as unpleasant but frequently giggles like a girl at his own gags - certainly deals with hecklers harshly, threatening them with removal by said security if they don’t shut up, and shut up now.

There are lots of things you’re not supposed to talk about, Boyle tells us, and then proceeds to talk about them, arguing that he’s only saying what we’re thinking. Up to a point, Lord Copper... The subjects of his mostly scabrous humour are celebrities, paedophiles, Jade Goody, cancer sufferers, Madeleine McCann, Lord Lloyd Webber, Susan Boyle - oh the list is almost endless, and at first the laughs are huge, even if some of the references (the Piper Alpha disaster, anyone? Valerie Singleton?) must be meaningless to a large proportion of the audience.

But about halfway through the 75-minute set, it’s noticeable that the laughter is more muted, even if people are undoubtedly enjoying themselves. It’s just that Boyle is so one-note - his jokes have a simple set-up and then a reveal - and the material so dark, rude or crude, or even all three at once, that the relentlessness makes one wish for a brief respite in the form of a longer-burn or subtler gag. But then, the show is not aimed at me, as critics are never invited to his gigs.

Much of Boyle’s set is very, very funny and well observed - Nick Clegg, for example, strikes him “as the kind of guy who says sorry when he comes” - but a lot of it is calculated solely to offend, and that’s where he loses me. There’s a particularly nasty joke about Katie Price’s severely disabled son that’s just cruel - laugh at her as much as you like, but he surely must be off limits. I’d also take issue with the repeated misogyny (particularly about the supposed ugliness or lack of sexual allure of Susan Boyle and Victoria Beckham) and borderline racism. One otherwise very well-written gag involves a scenario in which Boyle might find his partner cheating on him and seeing her being “fucked by a black cock”. Why a black cock, I wonder?

There are curiosities in Boyle’s equal-opportunities offending - he has a dig at Glasgow audiences not getting the irony of a joke about women finding men leaving the loo seat up being more irritating than rape or domestic violence - that suggest there’s a more sophisticated comic lying within. But then it’s back to the casual references to rape and the ugliness of women’s genitals...

Watch a clip of Frankie Boyle at the Hackney Empire:

There’s a particularly nasty joke about Katie Price’s severely disabled son that’s just cruel - laugh at her as much as you like, but he surely must be off limits

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I was also at the Hammersmith gig (1st Nov 2010) and I am sad and surprised to say (as a big fan of Frankie) that I agree with this review, by Veronica Lee. There definitely seemed to be a point where the emphasis went from jokes that offend, to the crux of the jokes being that he was being deliberately being offensive. Half-way through Frankie’s set the show did need another act or a short interlude to just break up the same-level monotony because, after a barrage of conscience shocks, you are left emotionally numb; neither able to feel sorrow for the persecuted nor joy at His trademark, dark and twisted humour. That being said, I did enjoy the evening and laughed plenty, but feel that maybe a little fine-tuning is required before this show deserves the highest of critical acclaim.

His dark jokes are the worse I've ever heard. I feel really pity for him. -Fernando Cavendish

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