After recent events in far too many places around the world, which prompted an outpouring of emotion, discussion, despair and solidarity, Frankie Boyle was probably the best/worst comedian to go and see. I am a fairly thick-skinned and hard-to-offend kind of individual so, unlike a good few punters, I was able to stay until the end of the show.
Before I get on to Frankie, his support act deserves a few lines, or maybe he had already had them, either way he was funny. Hailing from Canada, which immediately led my American friend crammed in next to me (I’m 6’5”, he’s 6’8”) to slink down in his seat, Craig Campbell adhered to nearly every Canadian stereotype with aplomb. Focussing mainly on wanking and associated bodily fluids, he took us on a rollercoaster of memories, bringing a tear to the eye, I do enjoy nostalgia comedy. There may have been some in the audience who found him offensive, if there were, they were in completely the wrong place. Despite being a brilliant comic, his role was primarily as a yardstick for the weak of grit to judge their choice of evening entertainment by.
We were reminded on several occasions that Mr Boyle would not tolerate those who wished to micturate mid-show, and once you were out, you were out. I felt for those who had clearly knocked a few pints back, but the directives were clear, so for the first time in living memory the queue for the men’s bogs eclipsed that of the lasses. So much so that I found myself sprinting (artistic licence applied) up to the top floor to increase my chances of getting back in time for the main act.
Offensively attired in a horrible T-shirt and ill-fitting suit, this offensive comedian went on to offend the often offended; offend, offense, offensive, offension. OK, I think I’ve reached the ‘offensive’ quota, now I can talk about comedy. Now, if I was sat on a bus and a drunk Scottish bloke jumped on and started with the exact same routine Frankie had, I wouldn’t laugh, I would sit and look around at my fellow passengers, who would be staring silently at the floor. However, I was sat in the Tyne Theatre with hundreds of other comedy fans, so I laughed my very tits off, with the occasional ‘oooh’ and ‘aaah’ thrown in among the sharp intakes of breath. There was a study conducted in which smoke was pumped under a waiting room door, a lone person in the room would run, but if there was a group of stooges who stayed put, he would stay put too. So it was last night, we were given permission to laugh by seeing other people laugh.
The reason this was even an issue was because of the topics covered. This was, after all, a Frankie Boyle gig, it was never going to be Micheal McIntyre (who got a slating by the way) style observational comedy. No stone was left unturned, not a single topic was off the agenda, oh yeah, he went ‘there’, and it was too much for some people to bear. I’ll admit to squirming uncomfortably in my seat, but that was because my seat was very uncomfortable, the comedy was great. Seeming incredibly self-aware, Mr Boyle went to great lengths to explain that his brand of comedy was not just the knee-jerk drivel you see posted online following a tragic event, it was carefully thought out and with a message. I think it’s easy to be shocked by what he has to say, but beneath it he actually makes some good points, one of them being that humour is to be found in every situation. At the free thinking festival held at the Sage recently somebody posited that we all have dark thoughts; we stereotype, terrible things enter our minds, but we filter them out and certainly don’t voice them. But they are in there. So when Frankie Boyle makes light of them, what may to some seem like bad taste, for others acts as a cathartic release of those nasty devils of the mind (or maybe that’s just me!).
One thing is certainly true, it was a great show. The audience were laughing, the jokes were funny (I would give an example, but I can’t, not because of copyright, but because I’m sure NARC would be down the pan fairly quickly if they were printed) and despite the disruption of quite a few people making for the exit I would say it was a success. Welcome back Frankie Boyle.
Possibly one of the funniest moments of the night though, happened on exit, where there was a gentleman who had apparently not been aware of the ‘no returns’ policy and had fallen foul of the security team as he was stood with the entire front of his T-shirt ripped off. He was literally ripped to the tits. Only at a Frankie Boyle gig…