On Saturday, Scottish funny man Frankie Boyle returned to Middlesbrough Town Hall as part of his ‘The Last Days of Sodom’ tour.
Having seen him live last year, and constantly seeing him clogging up column inches across the conservative press, I knew he was going to be brutal, hard-hitting, but most importantly, hilarious.
After reading that Boyle had referred to Middlesbrough as “the closest he’d ever came to death” I was expecting some seriously funny stuff.
As me and my boyfriend poured into the hall alongside the 1190-strong crowd, I noticed a sign on the wall, which read (to words of the effect):
“There is to be no flash photography or video recording of this show (standard practice). There will be no admittance after 8:30pm (he came on at 9) and anybody who needs to leave the auditorium during the show will not be allowed to re-enter.”
Bemused, we got to talking about it to a girl who worked behind the bar who seemed to know only too well of the comic’s diva-like demands, saying that he was “the worst comedian” when it came to mega-strops.
She explained that if he was heckled once, he let it slide, but if he was heckled twice, the person was to be removed from the show. We were also told that anybody going out of the show for any reason had to try and be snuck back in by staff, and if there was no good opportunity to do so, then they weren’t allowed back in at all. No refunds, no exceptions.
Then came the actual show.
Boyle didn’t disappoint with regard to his razor-sharp wit and ‘no holds barred’ jokes, but it got very uncomfortable very quickly. I can take a joke as well as the next person, but when he made repeated references to graphic paedophilia, disabled children, performed dated jokes about princess Diana and wished death upon the Queen, it all got a bit cringeworthy.
People began to leave the room, fast.
Frankie seemed to have a chip on his shoulder and aggression towards just about everybody. He defended his comedic style, explaining that jokes are merely hypothetical situations, not real life horrors.
The second half proved lighter, funnier. Still bilious, but in the clever way that I’d seen a year before in Newcastle. Now his twisted one-liners were threaded into coherent arguments, which made it far more enjoyable! Frankie was back!
Towards the end, I’d noticed that a man sat behind me who we’d got talking to hadn’t been there for a while. Turns out he’d gone for a cigarette and wasn’t allowed back in, sigh.
We had a lot of fun, and there was a few corkers, but perhaps Boyle has just ran out of wit and insists on charging fans £25 to listen to his rants and feel like they’re in detention: No toilet breaks, no refreshments. (Kind of like you’re doing now, for free).