I was working last night, so couldn't see the full glory Channel 4's Tuesday night comedy live, but read enough feedback on Twitter to know that it was going to be baaaad. I watched Frankie Boyle's Tramadol Nights quietly in my room last night as didn't want to disturb my landlord, but on rewatching it this morning realised it was much worse than I expected.
Ooooh that naughty Frankie ! I mean, that's what we EXPECT from Frankie Boyle! Shock. Outrage. Prepare to be offended. Why would you go to a Boyle gig or watch his show if you are easily offended?
In fact that's exactly the same argument I used when I defended him after the story of his Down's Syndrome 'joke' broke a few months ago when speaking to others about it (including professional comedians, most of whom thought that Frankie had deeply misjudged his outburst)
'Offensive' comedy is fine. We all have the right to be offended and someone is always going to be offended by something. However, 'offensive' comedy is only acceptable if someone has the skill to make it funny. For example Billy Connolly, Bill Hicks, Stewart Lee, Brendon Burns, Joan Rivers, Russell Brand, Chris Morris: These guys can be seen as offensive. they push the boundaries, they have a point. But most of all, they have the intelligence and comedic skill to take difficult topics such as drugs, child abuse, suicide, 9/11, death, and other topics seen as potentially offensive and make them funny. They think hard about these routines. The joke is either on themselves or the powerful. They don't look down and laugh at people who are less fortunate.
Frankie Boyle doesn't push boundaries. He clumsily charges through them throwing ideas out without any sense of self-editing. It seems that his only goal is to be notorious, rather than to be funny.
Now his rape sketch (Green Mile parody) was SO hilarious everyone wasn't it? I mean surely its automatically funny when a prisoner rapes a prison officer then goes on to rape the governor's wife. Naturally she was scared to be raped at first, but obviously (because she is a woman, and he is a big black man with obviously more sexual power than her husband) she ended up really enjoying the raping.
Frankie, it's not good enough. Yes you managed to cause some ructions and upset a few people. But that's not my point. It just wasn't funny.
The Brokeback Mountain sketch: Now we know a lot of routines can lose any subtle nuances in print, but believe me, this sketch had none. Imagine a gruff, macho cowboy addressing the camera: He starts jovially, and as the sketch progresses gets more menacing.
"What is the meaning behind the bewitching smile from the famous painting that is tonight's particular episode. It is "pick an actor from the movie Brokeback Mountain that you want to fuck" and stick with it. Be it the rambunctious nature of Jake or the stoic poise of Heath or whatever floats your boat. Now which is it? Heath or Jake? On the count of 3 I want everybody at home to make their choice.
One, two three.
Well the overwhelming vibe Im getting is for Heath. I of course would have picked the woman who played Jake's wife you fags. I didn't say you had to pick Heath or Jake, I just said you had to pick an actor from the movie and suggested two of 'em. It was you who unconsciously knew this and still opted for the gay choice anyway. Apart from those of you watching who are actually homosexual, I'm sorry your Sky box fucked up recording "Glee" boys.
The rest of you fist fucking heath pickers, I'm sorry this is how you had to find out about above your love of cum. And I suspect many of you will mistakenly vent your anger towards me. Well bring it on. and if you want to take 2 minutes out of your confused life next week, I'll meet you down in Hampstead Heath in the toilet cubicle with all the disco music coming out of it. And I suggest you bring your life partner to the heath cause I'm gonna show you heavy, fatherfucker!"
(Is that the last line? If so I'm not sure even what it means...)
Now other than the obvious homophobia here, again, my main point is that I just can't find anything funny in this. Where is the joke? Can someone point it out?
Frankie Boyle is clearly turning into Bernard Manning, and without any sense of irony. I think it's time for a new wave of alternative comedy. Bring on the new Alexei Sayles, Rik Mayalls, Peter Richardsons, Frenches and Saunderses, and yes, even Ben Eltons (the good Ben Elton from the 80s, not the current evil Ben Elton),
I'd always enjoyed Frankie's interjections and short nibbles of cheeky fun on Mock The Week, but he just doesn't have enough good material to pull this show off.
Frankie, write some funny jokes. It can't be healthy simply relying on the laughter of nerves. How long is it till you're 40?