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Review – Frankie Boyle live; Manchester Apollo

Simon Binns feels the full force of a controversial comic at the top of his game

Written by . Published on October 26th 2010.

Review – Frankie Boyle live; Manchester Apollo

You won’t be surprised to learn that this is not a show for the faint of heart or the easily offended.

Anyone who has seen Boyle on TV shows such as Mock the Week will know that his brand of comedy looks to push the boundaries of what we should and shouldn’t find funny – how far we should go to find humour in dark situations.

Religion? “A series of abstract thoughts by autistic people before we’d identified mental illness, written down by idiots.”

Live, Boyle has even fewer constraints, and opens up on anything and everything in his sights. Nobody escapes Boyle’s verbal assault, with special vitriol saved for the main protagonists of trash celebrity culture – Katie Price, Kerry Katona, Cheryl Cole and friends all get a roasting. Jade Goody and Susan Boyle get a mention. So does Madeleine McCann. You can feel the room collectively hold its breath.

Andrew Lloyd Webber looks like a man who has ‘had his face turned inside out, melted, scooped off and then had the molten mess thrown back at him to make up the most disgusting head on earth.’

And that counts as one of the more complimentary parts of the set.

Religion? “A series of abstract thoughts by autistic people before we’d identified mental illness, written down by idiots.”

Lots of Boyle’s jokes also tackle the usually taboo subjects of mental illness, sexual abuse, terminal diseases and paedophilia. Boyle’s apparent lack of morality should not be taken at face value though – he saves his most vicious bile for the bigots, the ignorant and the reactionary. Something the Daily Mail conveniently overlooked when reviewing his show earlier this year.

He touches on that very briefly, as he does his alcoholic past, saying that he ‘secretly misses blackouts.’ “They were the only sort of punctuation I had in my life. If I woke up covered in my own vomit, at least I knew I was still alive and I’d had some sleep. The rest of the post office queue behind me used to get annoyed though.”His material might be offensive, but it is also intentionally ridiculous and Boyle’s tongue is lodged firmly in his cheek.

His absurd sense of humour is a million miles away from the tawdry stand ups that actually meant what they said about certain parts of society in the 70s and 80s. This is a man frustrated with the ridiculousness of modern life and the removal of common sense. This is also a man, however, who claims you could make Stephen Hawking feel better by ‘turning him off, then turning him on again.’

There is one interesting flashpoint though, when Boyle spots someone filming him with his camera phone. The atmosphere becomes prickly, in a more serious way. You can see he’s running through the headlines about his latest show, from publications that didn’t even bother coming to see it.

Boyle checks himself and lightens up again though, ending a rousing set in just under an hour and 15 minutes.

One of the funniest live shows I’ve seen in recent times. We’re all adults. We need to be offended at times. Boyle, according to the title of his new show, would happily punch every single one of us in the face. And I’d gladly let him.

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9 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Burt CodeineOctober 26th 2010.

I heard he went down like a lead balloon in Nottingham...not quite sure what the audience was expecting? Mock the Week has a grand canyon space where he once sat.

Leigh ScottOctober 27th 2010.

Boyle is a funny man, I expected an emotional rollercoaster at his show, and I got one!

Lord of the PiesOctober 27th 2010.

I saw him at The Lowry last year. Whilst he was funny I was a little disappointed as 90% of the material was stuff I had heard from Mock the Week.

Hopefully this new show is a bit different.

Kevin to the pointOctober 27th 2010.


HarryXOctober 27th 2010.

That's very funny

Anon tooOctober 27th 2010.

There was plenty of new material when I went to see him this week - nothing I'd seen on the telly before.

StuOctober 28th 2010.

The Daily Mail likes the comedy of hate Boyle's is the comedy of despair

Simon BowersNovember 9th 2010.

We saw him on the Thursday, we had seen him at the Lowry Theatre previously. This was a very funny show, loads of new material mixed with a light showering of very funny 'old' jokes.
The support from Craig Campbell was as funny, a crazy energetic man who we are going to see next year when he is at the Comedy Store. Good show from Frankie!

Tommy Hayes shared this on Facebook on July 15th 2011.
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