In 2011 the Daily Mirror wrote a pile of shite about Frankie Boyle, so he sued them, and was awarded £54,650 as a result. Those defamatory words read by millions may have stuck in the minds of the British public, but quite probably a far less known fact is that he donated his ‘winnings’ to Reprieve, to back their landmark legal attempt to sue the MI6 over accusations that they castigated Shaker Aamer, who after more than twelve years is still imprisoned at Guantanamo, USA’s 9/11 revenge-based human hell-hole, without charge or trial.
Reprieve exists to help enforce the human rights of prisoners – from death row to Guantanamo – providing legal help to those without the resources to help themselves. At the time of the donation, Clive Stafford-Smith, the director of Reprieve, said this:
“If the Daily Mirror says something bad about Frankie that embarrasses him or humiliates him then he has the right to sue,” he said. “If, on the other hand, a far more powerful organisation, the British government and their agents, say something about Shaker – whereby instead of being humiliated he’s banged up in prison for eleven years for something he patently didn’t do and something he’s never been charged with – then the British government’s position is Shaker can do nothing.” One rule for one…
Frankie Boyle continues to support the case of Shaker Aamer and the fantastic work of Reprieve. Last year he endured a week long hunger strike in support of Guantanamo inmates, a trial he’s clearly successfully recovered from as he hit the stage at the brilliant Glasgow Stand last night, performing one of a series of stand-up events across the UK, with all proceeds going to Reprieve. Ample bellied, fully bearded and armed with hand-held flipchart of new material, Frankie Boyle launched into his comedic shock and awe.
Yes, I’ve just used a Bill Hicks reference, but then I’ve also used a military phrase, used to describe a prolonged and unrelenting bombardment of weaponry. Both are apt as like Hicks, Boyle loves to shock, pounding his targets smack between the eyes with heavy doses of ‘alternative’ reality (actual precision bombing). Unlike Hicks who was a supreme storyteller, Frankie Boyle is a scattergun joker, an unrelenting writer of razor-sharp barbs. Using subjects feared by most as unapproachable, paedophilia being a clear Boyle favourite, he devours them, spitting them out with gusto, shocking with a conscience, discarding those gaining a lacklustre response with carefree abandon.
Finding ways to compare the Twin Towers with Angelina Jolie’s breasts, a Brazilian waxing with the Gaza Strip, Justin Bieber with a grown-up Madeline McCann (“Hey… there’s hope in that joke – she’s still alive!” ) and running marathons with paedophilia, his subjects are intentionally spikey. But within these jokes and in moments of more casual commentary his compassion and understanding stand out. Like Hicks, he attacks his targets with undeniable truths, but his feminist, pacifist and empathic leanings are perfectly clear and all the while his innocent elf-like laugh and twee nose-twitch intersperse his unrelenting rant, making him deceptively loveable.
I’ve not laughed so much since I saw Jeff Green about 20 years ago, but then my drug intake was such that I’d have probably laughed at an empty stage. Unlike Mock The Week compatriot Milton Jones who I have lauded here and who bored me on stage, Frankie Boyle is a non-stop riot. There is however humility amongst the humiliation, regularly using his and his families behaviour as a guide to inferiority. Ending with a plea to alcoholics to accept their illness after narrating a San Franciscan tale of coppers and strippers, his message again was a positive one disguised within obscenities and wickedness.
Those who mock or criticise Frankie Boyle are, I would assume, simply offended by the subject matter rather than the content or the message. His humour is directed without prejudice. He shocks with intent, to open eyes and to make you laugh. All you non-believers… give Frankie a chance. Read his books, follow his tweets, listen, really listen to his comedy. He may not squeegee your third eye but he’ll give it a disturbingly pleasant wee rub…
If you can’t make a gig but would like to donate to Reprieve, here’s a link to how you can do it.