Monday, 13 December 2010

Off The Boyle

Last week on Channel 4 Frankie Boyle made the following jokes about Katie (Jordan) Price’s eight-year-old son, who is blind, suffers from autism, gains weight easily and can barely walk:

“Jordan and Peter Andre are still fighting each other over custody of Harvey - eventually one of them will lose and will have to keep him.”

“I have a theory about the reason Jordan married a cage fighter - she needed a man strong enough to stop Harvey from fucking her.”

I think Boyle should be absolutely free to say whatever he likes, about whoever he likes, to whoever he likes. And in turn, I – and anybody else – should be free to call him a cunt.

I’ve never rated Boyle. I always thought he was merely a sanitised version of the great Jerry Sadowitz. Boyle always seemed to be far too pleased with himself about being controversial. More to the point, he’s just not that funny – any halfwit could sit on a panel show trotting out shocking lines. I could do it, no problem.

I think the main problem I have with Boyle’s joke about Harvey Price is that he played it very safe. It’s not like he picked on a random mother and her disabled child. He wouldn’t have the balls to do that. He picked on Katie Price because he knew there would be quite a few people out there who would think it only right that she was the butt of that kind of joke. Which makes him much worse – because he used a disabled child simply to score a very cheap and easy joke against a very easy target. A cursory glance through the comments on blogs etc. bear this out – many people defending the joke on the grounds simply that it’s attacking Katie Price*.

The thing is, we’ve all received those kinds of jokes as texts or have heard them or told them to friends. What we haven’t done, however, is broadcast them on a public platform. He knew full well that Katie Price would hear the joke. And what does that say about him? That he thinks it’s fine and appropriate to belittle a disabled child knowing that his mother would hear it and be greatly upset about it? When we tell those kinds of jokes we tell them quietly and with a sense of knowing that it’s all a bit distasteful. It’s not hypocrisy to tell those jokes that way – it’s just plain decency. Let’s face it, what kind of nasty, spiteful cunt would go out of his way to deliberately upset the mother of a disabled child?

I don’t know, it’s entirely possible that people have made jokes about Maggie. But I haven’t heard them. And I would hope that anyone making those jokes would at least have the basic fucking decency to make sure that I didn’t hear them.

But as I said, I think Boyle should be free to tell whatever jokes he likes. I’d be totally against censoring him or prosecuting him. I just wish that we could get a real sense of what kind of a cheap bastard he is. He isn’t breaking down barriers or pushing the boundaries. He’s not Lenny Bruce or Bill Hicks or Jerry Sadowitz. He’s just a dime a dozen gag man who believes that saying shocking things is a shortcut to being funny.

Oh, and I also found out that Boyle once said the following about Lewis Hamilton and his brother who suffers from cerebral palsy – y’know, as Maggie does.

"Lewis Hamilton (to his brother): I won a championship today, what did you do?
Brother: I drank from a fucking cup Lewis. Ok!"

* I’ve never understood why we’re all supposed to hate Katie Price. As I’ve never understood why we’re also supposed to hate the likes of Kerry Katona or Cheryl Cole or even Cher, the young girl on X-Factor. Some of the comments I see on Twitter are just ridiculous – the hatred is visceral. I wouldn’t mind so much if these same people were attacking the world’s real villains but they always seem to go for these kinds of working-class girls who, presumably, have got a bit too big for their boots or something. As with Boyle, it’s cheap, it’s nasty and it’s also quite misogynistic. I wish they’d stop it - or at least dish out some of their disdain for people who really deserve it (as a friend of mine on Twitter routinely, and rightly, does).


  1. aggghh sometimes you make me jealous!! (random I know) you say things so well, things that I feel but can't express (without rambling on for 10 hours and never actually getting to the point). I purposefully avoid ANYTHING with Frankie Boyle in, I find him obscenely offensive - I maybe agree that he has the right to say whatever he wants but I'm not sure, as not everyone is as bright as you (and maybe me) to make their own decisions, so they then are "allowed" to make these jokes too, in a public forum, such as their facebook, because Frankie has "allowed" them too.

    Good point about the girls such as KP, Cher etc... I've never really understood why I'm supposed to hate them either, especially Cher, who could get that violent about a 17 year old girl, who clearly hasn't had as good a start as some, trying to better herself?????

    Great post lovely.. :0) :0) and a big Christmas kiss from the Muppet household to your lovely girls xxxxxxxxxxxx

  2. Thank you for this post. Excellently written, observed and directed.

    I went on to read the rest of your blog, in reverse as you do, and can only send my heartfelt best wishes to you and Shannon, Maggie and Alice. I only started blogging a few weeks ago when my Mum majorly stroked out and subsequently died and I hope that your blog functions for you as mine does for me - as a catharsis. Yours is important - do keep it up. I will come back to keep up and will direct to it anyone with ears to hear. Every good wish. xxx

  3. Spot on. This just about echoes my thoughts on Frankie Boyle, censorship and the likes of Katona et al.

    Good work, fella.

  4. re the Lewis Hamilton joke. Only the parent of a disabled child would know that probably twice as much hard work and effort has gone into the drinking from a cup than winning a cup.

    Censorship wouldn't allow his ignorance to shine through. I laugh at him for the reasons he doesn't intend!

    Excellent post. I hope you and your family have a fabulous Christmas.

  5. You don't really understand the concept of a joke, do you?

    So, you are offended. That is the beauty of free speech - you have the right to be offended!

    A comedian takes a plausible situation, and warps its context to come up with a funny siltation. After the laugh, they move on, and the moment is over.

    As long as it was funny for the paying audience, its done its job! There has been to harm done to any children or animals, and the world keeps moving!

    What you have done is to create a straw man argument. You have created a 30 minute situation out of a 5 second joke. If Frankie Boyle had spent 30 minutes on the joke, you might have something to go on - but not for a 5 second joke.

    While I might agree with you that Frank might not be up there with the other big names we have heard of - I don't actually rate the people you mentioned either.

    For instance, Bill Hicks's death was the career break he needed! :)

    Anyway - just thought I would give you an opinion of your piece!

  6. Dear Spazzer. Nowhere in the piece did I say I was offended. And throughout I was quite clear that Boyle can say what he likes and that freedom of speech is all. In fact, that was sort of the main point of the post.

    If anything, the piece is simply that I think Boyle's a bit of a cheap, unfunny cunt - that he went for a very easy target. Really though, I'm very pleased that he has the freedom to do that. And that I have the freedom to call him a cunt.

    Maybe you should read what I wrote again.

    Oh, and if you're going to post comments that take me to task, at least have the guts not to do it anonymously.

  7. Morning Paul.

    I went to see Frankie Boyle live at Norwich Playhouse a couple of years ago, and I remember having a good night. I've always loved controversial comedy, as I'm sure you have too - in my college days I devoured the every word of Derek & Clive and Bill Hicks, with a childlike love of being disgusted that I still have to this day.

    Although I found him funny for a while, I have always known that Boyle doesn't deserve to be mentioned alongside those names, because the thing that marks him out as a comedian is exactly the opposite of what marked out Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Bill Hicks, Richard Herring and many other terrific comedians. There is never any sense of Boyle challenging his own underlying sensitivity, as those great names certainly did, and do. The only thing Boyle challenges is the sensitivity of other people, and as many people have said, if ever there was a definition of a bully...

    His only remarkable trait is his capacity to simply carry on - in the same way that the unfunny Avid Merrion simply carries on, and the howlingly unfunny Jimmy Carr simply carries on. I once found Boyle funny precisely because I thought there was no depth to his comedy. His work was never cutting edge, as you say, or brilliant, but as a viewer, you thought that his offensiveness was so widely spread that he couldn't mean it.

    I no longer find him funny, though. My problem with Frankie Boyle these days is that we now know that he wilfully ignores the difference between being comically offensive and thoroughly hurtful. He has repeatedly demonstrated this, not only in the jokes about Katie Price and Lewis Hamilton that you included in your post, but also in the show in which an audience member questioned a joke of his about Down's Syndrome. Did he take a step back to stop joking for a moment and apologise for taking his humour too far? Did he show any sensitivity towards the audience member, at all? No. He made a churlish, cheap, false and deeply unprofessional justification of the remark: 'It's all true, isn't it?' Even if he was joking, to my mind, the fact that he carried on joking marked him out no longer as a comedian, but as a bully and a coward.

    Comedians such as Roy 'Chubby' Brown have rightly defended their humour with the argument that the offensiveness they see on stage doesn't reflect reality. Frankie Boyle had the opportunity to demonstrate this, and apologise to his audience member in the aftermath of his show. All she received was a 'no comment' from his agent - which I think says it all.

  8. Everyone I know who has worked with Frankie Boyle say that he's as much of a cunt in real life as he is on screen. Which means that at least he's consistent.

    As you say and as 'anonymous' fails to grasp, FB is perfectly at liberty to say what he likes as long as he accepts that we are too.

    To be honest, I think FB is counter-cunted by anyone who pays money to go and see him and then feels offended by his material.

    I tend to put FB in the same bracket as that philosophical tree in the forest that falls and doesn't make a sound if no one is there to hear it.

    It would be good if the philosophical tree fell on FB, though. I'd make sure I was in the forest to hear that.

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  10. He's a comic. Not Tony Benn or Nelson Mandela. Free speech? You can not incite racial hatred or chant homophobic slurs at football matches. You would be arrested. If one child was bullied because of what he said how is that cool? Jim Davidson et al were reined in because of the mob misery they caused. The idea that FB is a crusader for free speech is absurd. What seems to rankle his defenders is those who find him unkind exercising their "free speech". There is no complete freedom in any society.

  11. Brilliant post, Paul, though I do also find myself in agreement with Mr Hewerdine. Frankie Boyle is as bad, if not worse, than Messrs Davidson, Manning et al, but somehow avoids the opprobrium usually reserved for comedians of that ilk because of his image as a left-leaning, 'alernative' comedian who couldn't possibly mean the hateful things he says. To be honest, a lot of comedians get away with potentially offensive & inflammatory material because they're apparently couching it in 'irony'; Lucas & Walliams and Ricky Gervais are a few culprits that come to mind.

  12. I agree with you. He isn't funny and uses being shocking as a substitute for that.

    There's another good post about him here:

  13. Dear Paul & Shannon

    I discovered your blog and this post through Twitter. This post is really well written, and mirrors my views on FB entirely.

    I've been very disappointed with the attitude of Channel 4 in this controversy. 'Sachs-Gate' brought the BBC to a halt because two comedians played a spiteful, unfunny prank on a specific individual that pracitcally noone complained about until the media got hold of it. It seems that because they were on the BBC and talking about a national treasure, it's BAD. But because FB was having a go at Jordan (ignoring defenceless Harvey),that's OK...

    Having read this post, I've read more of your utterly genuine, open and moving accounts of your life with Maggie and Alice. I can only wish you every happiness and strength, not only to deal with whatever is thrown at you, but to continue documenting it with such honesty and courage.


  14. Read your blog via a twitter post (tweet?) and chapeau to you and yours - not only for the way you responded to FB, but the way you have responded to life in general.

    I agree wholeheartedly that this is nothing to do with free speech - you address that in your rather splendid opening sentence - but just about the fact that being offensive for being offensive's sake is about as funny as geting your nob out in the shopping centre and expecting people to find it hysterical.

    Actually on second thoughts it's not as funny as that...

  15. Great post. Nice to see I'm not alone in my dislike of FB.

  16. Well written and spot on. I find Frankie Boyle a great pimple on the arse of humanity but like you say he deserves the right of free speech as much as the next person.

    I only hope that at some point he has the decency to take a step back from the name calling bully boy tactics and do some good work. Can't see it though.

  17. Meaningful, well-written & well-argued.

    All the best to you & the whole family.

  18. Well done Paul,

    what you wrote made perfect sense to me, who could possibly argue against it,

    lots of love to you and Shannon and family xxx

  19. Interesting post. I definitely agree with what you said here, if what you said is true. Or, I should at least say, he can say it as long as you can reply jut as virally.

    I will admit, when it comes to some "distasteful" jokes, I often laugh, but with one of those, "I cannot believe he just said that!" sort of laughs. But if I were a parent with a disabled child, I might feel a little twinge of scorn for it.

    Then again, I don't feel much of a twinge when I hear jokes on shows like Family Guy when they make jokes about Jesus or when people say something about losing a mom. I guess I just decided a long time ago not to worry too much with what people say, simply because half of them probably shouldn't have been handed an amp in the first place.

  20. I read about Frankie Boyle the bear from Bo Selecta's comment online. Didn't give the irrelevance of the comic or the comment another thought.

    By the way, I find your use of the word 'cunt' very offensive.
    There, I said it.

  21. Dear Ben. If you're offended by my use of the word 'cunt' don't read my blog.

    There, sorted.

  22. Ok, I won't. I've found most of your other ramblings quite strengthening and inspiring. I'm in a similar situation to you, you see, and had been pondering whether to ask for your own thoughts on my own blog about our experiences.

  23. Ben. If you genuinely wanted to ask for my thoughts you should have asked for them. But instead you chose to pick me up on my use of the word 'cunt'. That's very odd behaviour.

    But if you're genuine (which I suspect you're not) my email address is on the profile page. I'd be happy to share further 'ramblings' with you.

  24. Only just read this man, well put and I pretty much totally agree. I think what has quickly become clear about Frankie Boyle, a comedian whose presence and 'shocking' jokes on Mock the Week I actually did enjoy (most of the time) is that distasteful one-note jokes are all he has.

    On a panel show it works because it's off-set by the other comedians and inserted into what is basically a cross-table conversation, giving them more punch. 'Tramadol Nights' is what happens when you span that one note over half an hour. I think I turned off when he called an audience member a cunt for no reason.

    For what it's worth I heard the Harvey Price joke months ago.

  25. Corey isnt my real name you fucking stupid prick! Its name of some cunt i used to bully at school! I always use fake names on websites like these. I bet you your mums cunt seems quite quite apposite aswell then. Frankies a legend and anyone who cant see that is clearly more fucking reatarded than harvey price (if thats fucking possible lol)

  26. Hey "Corey",

    You really are a big, brave, funny person and we are all a bit intimidated by the clarity of your expression.

    (Note: this is sarcasm)

    I am, actually, genuinely sorry for you in a way, that you are so insecure that you need to laugh at the "reatarded" (sic) and boast about how you used to bully people at school.

    Maybe one day, you'll understand what it means to have a disabled or vulnerable person within your close family, and get some insight into why these sort of "jokes" aren't funny (note, again, this is the main problem with FB - that he's not funny. It's not about being "offended". It's about FB being shit.)

    Or maybe you'll carry on like you are, and end up lonely and embittered, and in a few years time you'll be posting angrily on your own blog because some comedian on TV has taken the piss out of people who are lonely and embittered and friendless and slowly masturbating themselves to death in a dank bedsit.

    (I clicked on your "blog", btw, and have never seen a better advert for censorship.)

    Either way I wish you a happy new year.


  27. My biggest hate in the world is censorship!!! But what everyone seems to not realise is that FB is a comedian and they tell jokes you stupid cunts!!! So he is joking around. He once admitted that his comedy is just an act and he is nothing like that in reality. Dont answer to my fucking comments unless you agree withme!! I thank everyone who agrees with what i am saying and 2 the rest of you, i say FUCK OFF AND STOP FUCKING COMMENTING!!!

  28. Corey. If you'd actually read what I said, you'd know that I'm totally opposed to censoring Boyle - or anyone else for that matter. The beauty of free speech is, as I said, that it allows me to respond to him in any way I see fit. Yet you - big defender of free speech that you are - didn't like that I did that.

    And a self-proclaimed free speech advocate telling people to 'FUCK OFF AND STOP FUCKING COMMENTING'? Absolutely priceless.

    Now, I'll ask you nicely: please go away. Or stay if you like - but at least have the decency, and guts, to use your real name.

  29. This is that so called corey coyle guys brother. His real name is robert webb mines is terry. I am sorry for everythhing he has been saying. Hes a twat who likes to act hard so again i am really sorry. I am a fan of frankie boyle but im not going to defend fb the way my brother has. Hes 5 years older than I am so i cant control him. Hes always getting into trouble and driving our parents crazy. Again, Im sorry :)

  30. @ "Corey", again:

    Quoting you:

    "Dont answer to my fucking comments unless you agree withme!!"

    Oh. Did I push a button with the "insecure" thing?

    I can't really argue with you any more effectively than you've already argued with yourself. You defend FB on the grounds of "free speech", then tell everyone who doesn't agree with you to "fuck off". As Paul says, priceless.

    (BTW, I do understand that FB is a 'comedian', because that's how he's billed by TV and theatres. The point is that he's a shit one, because he's not funny. If you want to understand what great, near-the-knuckle, boundary-pushing comedy actually is, go rent a Bill Hicks DVD. But don't try and dress FB up in those clothes. That particular emperor is well and truly naked.)

    Once again, I wish you a happy new year, and for your own sake I hope you end 2011 in a better frame of mind than you're apparently going to start it.