Frankie Boyle: The Voice of Black America

Note: This review is from 2006

Review by Steve Bennett

Frankie Boyle does what very few comedians do on the Fringe. He just tells jokes, one after the other, with no theme or even links. Then, after an hour, he goes home.

The reason so few comics take this route is because it's not easy. Audiences tend to want texture in their show, and just reeling off gags out of context is a harsh, unforgiving environment. Good job, then, that Boyle is one of the best gag-writers in the business.

This is an hour-long onslaught of brutal one-liners. Fred West, paedophiles, war and misery are all grist for the mill, and Boyle makes no apologies for any of it. 'I fucking hate charity,' is a typical feed line.

The temptation here is to simply quote a heap of Boyle's jokes to prove how good they are ­ especially given how short, sharp and pithy they are. But you really need to see him live, delivering each one with a powerfully effective punch.

He's politically aware, not because he wants to score points and get any particular opinion across ­ but simply the more he knows about politics, the more targets there are. The conflict in the Lebanon is just another source of jokes, as is John Prescott or the 'Nazi Pope'.

And he reads the red-top tabloids as much as the grown-up 'compacts', as proven by a succession of ruthlessly cruel jokes bashing celebrities. There is something here for everyone. And to offend everyone.

Boyle plays up on his Scottishness to the predominantly home crowd who've packed Pleasance One. 'There are lots of references to Motherwell that are going to sail way over your head,' he tells a couple of tourists from Hong Kong in a rare moment of banter. But it doesn't take much to get up to speed ­ pretty much most the places he namechecks are shit, for one reason or another, Glasgow is sectarian but everyone hates the English. That's about the level of knowledge you need.

Resplendent in bright pink suit, Boyle does make a couple of minor concessions towards varying the pace, most notably in a Thought For The Day section, for which he apologises in advance. Here, he dons a cheap prop crown to bark out a few philosophical pronouncements in the manner of Simon Munnery, only not quite as well as well.

But then it's back to what he does best: jokes. And since Tim Vine's not here this year ­ as the magnificently huge billboard where the Gilded Balloon used to be proclaims ­ you won't get more gags per minute anywhere else on the Fringe.

 Steve Bennett

Review date: 1 Jan 2006
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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