Comedy Review: Frankie Boyle “Work in Progress” at The Stand Comedy Club, Glasgow

Comedian: Frankie Boyle – Work in Progress

Venue: The Stand Comedy Club, Glasgow – 10/08/2015

It’s hard – no, actually, it’s nigh on impossible – to defend Frankie Boyle’s comedy. So, I’m not even going to try. I don’t think it’s even deemed socially acceptable to openly admit to liking Frankie Boyle. He is arguably the most controversial comedian in the country today. A comedian who will quite literally joke about any and every sensitive topic and tragic event under the sun; no matter how risqué it is, no matter how much abuse he will get for it.

Frankie Boyle may be despicable (to say the least) but if he was truly hated by everyone across the nation, we wouldn’t be talking about him; he wouldn’t be selling out shows, books and DVDs, and he wouldn’t even be known to us at all – but he is. The thing that many people won’t admit is that Boyle, while hated, is also adored by fans across the country.

In many ways, Frankie Boyle could be compared to acid-tongue newspaper columnist Katie Hopkins (oh, except, Boyle is actually funny). While he may offend and disgust, he also often says what all other comedians are too afraid to say, and usually says what many people in the audience are really thinking.

It’s a typical drizzly Monday night in Kelvinbridge in the West End of Glasgow and The Stand Comedy Club is packed from the bar to the stalls with fans eagerly anticipating the return of one of the cities favourite, and paradoxically most divisive, comedians since his last Glasgow shows during the 2014 Independence Referendum.

Slinked in between customers at the bar and a small sea of chairs and tiny round tables cluttered with half-empty pint glasses, my friends and I are squashed and standing on a floor sticky with spilled booze waiting for the man himself to emerge on stage to try out his new material.

As we wait, I look around to see the audience members who have been brave enough to sit in the seats closest to the stage. These courageous souls better have thick skins because they are directly in the firing line for the infamous “slaggin’ of a lifetime” from Boyle who has an incredible talent for ripping people apart with only a first impression as ammunition.

Every aspect of Boyle’s hilarious routine from: his dry, cold-hearted one liners; to his extravagant and exaggerated assaults on famous figures like David Cameron; to his articulate and eloquent critiques on modern society and politics is like a breath of fresh, maybe slightly pungent, air because Frankie Boyle does something very unique with his comedy, in that he deconstructs the unspoken, mutually-agreed, socially-accepted society of secrecy we live in today and diminishes taboo subjects down to comedy fodder; making sensitive topics and outrageous scandals more accessible and open to conversation.

By poking fun at forbidden topics including, for example, paedophilia and terrorism, Boyle is actually replacing the fear in our social sphere with laughter. He utilises his brand of harsh, daring comedy to unmask the ugliness of abuse, scandal and war in order to render these subjects as “safe to discuss”. The truth is, when it comes to the things Frankie Boyle uses in his routines, we should be talking about them more in society and maybe the reason he is so often attacked for his material is because he is one of the very few people willing to discuss what everyone else would rather cover up.

Following on from his delightful, light-hearted, wee jokey jokes including:

It’s good to be hated. It’s good to know that they are people who would dance on my grave. But, if I’m buried at sea, they’ll all drown.


(In response to Chris Brown’s tweet that skateboarding and breakdancing should be made Olympic sports…) Or intergender boxing, you’d be in with a chance of a medal there, mate.

Boyle opened this Glasgow gig with:

Hello. I’m 42 and I feel terrible. Women now look at my naked body in the same fearful way that pensioners look at snow.

Interspersed with the sound of sucking in air through teeth and “oh, that one was a bit dodgy” gasps from the crowd (a response which takes a lot to achieve in Glasgow), every joke and gibe made by Boyle is followed by that kind of roaring, gut laughter that occasionally even turns into violent coughing fits for the smokers in the audience.

Ridiculing everything from the Jimmy Saville scandal and child sex abuse accusations within politics, to responses to the result of the Independence Referendum “I know that 55% of you are probably c**ts. Mind you, that was always the percentage at my gigs anyway…” Boyle’s Work in Progress show is raw, brutal, acidic and harrowingly hilarious. In a traditional Glaswegian setting the place where Boyle’s comedy receives probably its most generous portion of acceptance and laughter — Boyle can really say whatever he likes and will always be met with laughs, cheers, whistles and woops from the crowd.

For those who criticise and are insulted by Boyle’s comedy, he had this message: “People often ask me: ‘Oh, but what about those who don’t like your comedy? What about those who are offended by the things you say?’ Asking me that is like asking the makers of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream: ‘But what about the people who don’t like ice cream? What about those who find it just a bit too cold?'”

And he makes an excellent point. The best way to deal with Boyle’s comedy if you dislike it is to ignore it because nobody will ever beat this man in an argument. I mean, come on, he ridicules for a living.

If you get a chance to see one of Boyle’s upcoming gigs or Edinburgh Fringe performances, I can’t recommend him highly enough. If you want a night of black comedy that will leave you feeling a mixture of violation and bitterness, he’s your man!


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