Sunday, August 12, 2007

Edinburgh Fringe 2007: Frankie Boyle - Morons, I Can Heal You, Assembly Rooms 21.00

(This will soon also be up on the fabulous FringeBlogs site!)

There's no doubt that Frankie Boyle is the real star of Mock The Week - he's acerbic, the quickest of the lot of them, goes further than anyone else dares, and, quite frankly, has the most to say. I'm still laughing, three weeks later, at the fact that, when faced with working out what question got the reply '200,000 tonnes' (or something similar), he came up with 'When Tony Blair was asked how many Iraqis had been killed since the start of the war, what was his callous reply?'

Up here in Edinburgh, without nervous TV producers breathing down his neck, Boyle clearly relishes the ability to say whatever the hell he likes, and makes full use of that opportunity: no subject matter is off limits, from terrorism to paedophilia. But, Boyle's a clever comedian, and knows that a whole hour of jokes that make you cringe as much as they make you laugh just doesn't work, and so has structured his set so that a punchline receiving a groan, or even a boo, is followed by five which stay on much safer ground. In fact, I personally preferred the material which didn't rely quite so much on shock value, and it seemed that most of the audience here did too.

So if Boyle's clearly a master of the one-liner, and has come up with a show which just about matches the audience's appetite for controversy, why only three stars (don't worry, I always look at the star rating first, too)? Well, it's simply that I got very little out of seeing him live that I don't get out of seeing him on television. Now, there may be a valid excuse for this, in that his banter with the audience hit a dead end when faced with four actuaries on the same row - not a rich vein for comedy. I've no doubt that if he had been faced with teachers, or nurses, he would have had a wealth of material stored in that comedy brain of his, but we didn't see it tonight. Less excusable, however, is that he has actually used a fair amount of the material on Mock The Week already, and he referenced news stories which are pretty much past their sell-by date. I laughed throughout the gig, certainly, and am happy to have seen such an accomplished comic - I just wish he'd made this show just that little bit special.


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