Frankie Boyle: Morons I Can Heal You
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2007
The star of BBC2's Mock The Week returns with a brand new solo show that promises more of what brought him five-star reviews last year. He takes audiences on a ride that leaves them Gasping for more as well as Gasping at his sheer audacity. Taboo subjects? Frankie certainly doesn't think so!
After five series of Mock The Week, there can’t be many people who don’t know what to expect from a Frankie Boyle show. And true enough, this offers an unfussy parade of brutal one-liners inspired by topical events.
The BBC Two show has clearly given him a healthy live audience, and one that knows his material backwards – even to the extent of calling out requests for him to do his Princess Diana routine, as if he were a rock band being urged to roll out the greatest hits. It suggests that the fans might not be too disappointed that the live show pretty much collects together gags they’ll already know from the telly – plus, of course, a few that didn’t make it past the censors.
Boyle is unapologetically savage in attacking his targets, a tough Glaswegian defiance that proves refreshing amid topical comedy that too often takes refuge in ‘only joking!’ irony or the blithe reassertion of safely populist opinions. You assume – or at least hope – Boyle doesn’t mean the vicious things behind his lean, mean jokes, and that’s why he sees no need to sugar-coat them.
Occasionally he’ll bow to public pressure with an apologetic nod along the lines of what ‘What a horrible thing to say…’ But it sure as hell isn’t going to stop him saying them.
A lot of the topics, you’ll have heard covered before – and Boyle is not unique in his response to such big stories as the London Olympics, the Glasgow airport terrorists or chavvy youngsters. But he does have a knack of nailing every one of these headline-makers with the definitive gag on the subject. When he gets a contentious topic such as ID cards between his teeth, he can encapsulate a contrary point of view with just one viciously concise line. No wonder he’s a topical panel game regular.
He does make some concessions to the fact this isn’t the telly, with an attempt at audience banter. But it’s a very one-sided exchange, as he offhandedly chucks typically acidic abuse at the first couple of rows. Boyle doesn’t suffer fools gladly – and even strikes pre-emptively, just in case, casually demolishing punters who have barely uttered a word in their defence.
This aloof stance doesn’t help him build a rapport, so there is certainly little warmth in the gig’s atmosphere. But Boyle likes to let his writing do the talking; and there’s no doubt the gags are strong enough to stand without the phoney support of feigned bonhomie.
Remarkably few of the lines genuinely cause discomfort, as his fans nowadays know him well enough to take them in the flippant manner they are meant. It helps that there’s often a silliness hidden just behind his abrasiveness, not to mention his expert deployment of language to conjure up just the right exaggerated image to make his point.
If you’re happy to subject your liberal sensibilities to a trampling under Boyle’s size-9s., the sheer quality and quantity of gags ensure a good night out.
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Brighton, October 2007
Date of review: Oct 2007