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Where should comedians draw the line?

21:09 UK time, Friday, 9 April 2010

Comedian Frankie Boyle has been criticised for poking fun at people with Down's syndrome during a live show. When is comedy not funny?

The mother of a five-year-old girl with Down's syndrome, Sharon Smith, told BBC Radio 5 Live's Victoria Derbyshire she had been enjoying Frankie Boyle's live show before he joked about people with Down's syndrome: "He made fun of the way people with Down's syndrome speak".

Boyle is not the first comedian to offend with his jokes. Jimmy Carr received criticism for a joke he made about British soldiers who had lost limbs in battle in Iraq and Afghanistan and Billy Connolly was criticised after making a joke about the plight of the British hostage in Iraq, Kenneth Bigley.

Were you offended by Frankie Boyle's joke? Are the rules regarding what's acceptable different for comedians? Where should the line be drawn?

This debate has now been closed. Thank you for your comments.

Comments

Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    I have a 4 year old son, Sterling, with Down Sydrome, who was in a music class with Tanzie last year. The main problem with Frankie Boyle's jokes seems to be that they were simply not funny. If he had any awareness of how people with Down Syndrome behave he could have produced plenty of comedy material, that would not have been so directly offensive! The material that comedians use needs to have enough truth in it that at least some people with direct experience will find it funny. I think he'd be hard pushed to find a single person with Down Syndrome, or their families who would be amused.

  • Comment number 3.

    I wonder if the woman who took offence at the downs syndrome remarks was offended earlier in the show when Frankie Boyle was targeting other groups,or did she laugh along with the rest of the audience?
    If you choose go to see a near the knuckle comedian you should expect to have the limits of your tolerance tested, and you may be offended by some of the things said.
    Whining about it on national radio afterwards and trying to set yourself up as a martyr just doesn't make sense.If you chose to buy a ticket in the first place you should live with the consequences.

  • Comment number 4.

    The things that some people will do to earn money! If I found Frankie on the bottom of my shoe I'd scrape it off.

  • Comment number 5.

    Jokes are rarely funny when you or your family is the target - but since every good joke can offend someone somewhere, it would be a very bad thing to start censoring the comedians.

    As for the Mrs Smith... well, she went to a Frankie Boyle's gig, what did she expect??
    Perhaps BBC should have censored Mock The Week less to give her the idea of real Frankie.

  • Comment number 6.

    There was a comedian once name Andrew Dice Clay. That man would make some of the most offensive imaginable. One time I saw his performance where he made the obscene jokes about paraplegics. It was extremely offensive to attack people like that, so I left, never to return. I voted with my feet and wallet. He never made another red cent off of me again.

  • Comment number 7.

    As said above I'm sure she laughed when Frankie Boyle made jokes about other groups..... When people stop laughing or going to his gigs is when Frankie Boyle will have gone too far--Then he will change his act!!
    I think the BBC is far too sensitive when it comes to comedy..If they reflected the jokes that people actually tell each other then Frankie Boyle would look tame in comparison...

  • Comment number 8.

    The beautiful thing about a free society is that you don't have to listen to stuff that you find offensive. I personally think that Frankie Boyle is hilarious, and the more outrageous the joke, the more I'm entertained.

  • Comment number 9.

    I like Frankie Boyle as a comedian and when watching him have often thought, "ooh that was a bit below the belt; bound to upset someone". In fact I once found one of his jokes offensive when he remarked about stroke; my father in law had recently died of a stroke at the time. But I chose not to get too upset because as a huge fan of comedy I understand that everyone can find offence at some point.

    I think that if we censored comedy we would lose our concept of what humour is all about. So long as the joke is not meant maliciously, which I do not think was Frankie's intention, then it should be accepted as just a joke. After all, an Irish joke may be deemed racist, unless of course, it is an Irish comedian telling it and the audience is itself Irish. They don't repeat "that" Fawlty Towers episode anymore about the Germans for this very reason, and if we censored comedians based on offending people, we would lose comedy altogether in our mad PC world. Sometimes, we have to laugh at life.

  • Comment number 10.

    Humour is subjective, as mentioned before I am sure there were plenty of other jokes poking fun at other groups, ethnicities, races and religions which the couple obviously find funny else I'm sure they wouldn't have gone to see Frankie.
    The fact of the matter is that everybody is entitled to an opinion, just because you don't agree with it does not entitle you to any financial reimbursement.
    They knew his style of humour from Mock The Week, if they were Scottish or ginger would this be a news story?

  • Comment number 11.

    I was at this show and have a couple of points to make about this incident.
    Frankie Boyle did not, as she says, pick on her for talking to her husband but for sending a text message, which he obviously thought rude as he asked if she was bored and who she was texting. The audience had been repeatly requested prior to the event to turn off all phones during the performance. To his credit he seemed very uncomfortable about it and took a while to get back into his stride.
    This incident took place well into the show. She says she had been enjoying the show up to this point. This must mean she enjoyed, and laughed at, "jokes" about rape, paedophilia and various other non-PC subjects. I would suggest that being raped or sexually abused as a child is no less offensive a subject for humour than Down's syndrome. It is fine to laugh at other people's expense but she then got offended when she was the victim. This seems very hypocritical to me.
    This show was much as I expected it to be. Frankie Boyle has a reputation for making offensive remarks and Mock The Week had to edit many of his contributions.
    I am not Frankie Boyle or posting on his behalf or even a fan of his. I went to this show to see just how far he would go away from the cameras. I was actually surprised he wasn't even more offensive than he was.
    This lady was sitting near the middle in the front row at a show starring one of the most rude and offensive performers. If she was liable to be offended this is not the best place to sit.
    PS: I actually enjoyed the support act more than the headliner. Craig Campbell, I think his name was, has potential.

  • Comment number 12.

    Frankie does push the boundaries in his humour, but laughing at disabilities is not acceptable and not funny. Very cheap shot Frankie....use a bit more intellegence and wit and you wouldn't have to attack those who cannot defend themeselves.

  • Comment number 13.

    It was unfortunate that the lady was at his gig and was maybe not expecting it and I would have felt similar in her shoes but would never have been brave enough to speak up so good on her for that.

    Frankie Boyle is one of those comedians who I have laughed out loud at and has enjoyed watching but also has thought on the odd occasion that he can cross the line. I certainly don't think we can censorship comedy or it wouldn't be fun anymore, but maybe he'll think twice before making jokes about disabled people in the future.

  • Comment number 14.

    In the same way that authors project themselves into character in order to write novels which, if assumed to be autobiographical, would have them locked up or sectioned, so do comedians use material in their acts which is not their closely held belief.

    I can laugh at dark humour – even racial humour – as well as cruel humour without having to agree with the sentiments. It's all a matter of deciding to look at the big picture and realising that the world is a pressure cooker, and needs releases at times. Some of which are painful – to some, but most will have observed certain traits, conditions and anomalies and made perfectly decent decisions without becoming subverted by comedians.

  • Comment number 15.

    I think he didn't do anything wrong! Comedy is comedy...I am sure if he was joking about Black people, Muslims, Polish or anything else which these people (black or muslim etc) would find offensive...this couple would be laghing with everybody else!

  • Comment number 16.

    This whole thing is pathetic. You know what you are getting when you go to see Frankie Boyle. This woman admits that she was a fan enjoy his brand of comedy. The hypocrisy in enjoying his show and laughing at other supposedly taboo subjects, such as cancer, racism and disabled adults, but getting upset when a subject close to her receives the same treatment is plain for all to see. To be given time on radio to complain about Frankie is just an opportunity for ex-social workers to join in a crusade for human decency. She is trying to make herself a martyr. If you don't like what a comedian says, dont go and see him. If you insist on going and you get insulted, act like an adult not a petulant child.

  • Comment number 17.

    It stops being funny when it amounts to obvious bullying, in this particular case I don't believe that this is what Frankie Boyle was doing however. I haven’t seen the footage yet mind.

    Although I seem to remember him making some comment about Rebecca Adlington’s looks, something about her looking like a reflection in a spoon. A little hypocritical since he's hardly an oil painting himself.

    Humour I like, controversial humour I sometimes like, bullying I do not. Sadly bullying often gets excused as controversial humour IMEE.

  • Comment number 18.

    this woman says she is a fan of frankie boyle from watching him on the BBC. what he has done on the BBC is poke fun at everyone and everything, always in a very dry way.

    one can assume that this woman found these jokes funny, because she bought a ticket to his show, and we know because of the quote helpfully provided in the BBC article. but now that a joke is about her, she gets offended and we end up with a news article.

    the hypocrisy of this woman is just unbelievable. it really is absolutely staggering. it is, in my opinion, only matched by the staggering lengths that some journalists will clearly go to in order to secure a sensationalist story regardless of actual substance. please, do better than this.

    at what point did anyone actually sit down and think about the hypocrisy of going to a show on the basis of prior experience only to have a negative reaction when what drew the person to the show was, for once, directed at them.

  • Comment number 19.

    I've regularly seen Frankie Boyle's live routines and watched him on Mock the Week. Personally I find him hilarious but then I don't find any subject to be taboo in comedy or any joke to be too sick or offensive. Many others hate him for the opposite reason and would never watch him or pay to see him, buy his DVD's etc. Isn't this a good example of freedom of speech and freedom of choice?

    It's a fair point that others have made - no doubt the earlier part of his set contained material that others would have found deeply offensive but the lady in question found amusing. I'd suggest you shouldn't be going to see a comedian like him if there are any subjects so sensitive to you that you can't find humour in him poking fun at them.

  • Comment number 20.

    All jokes can be found offensive by someone. As David Walliams once said, comedy should not be limited. All areas of conversation and subject should be open to ridicule.

    If a person feels personally attacked by a comedian, they can contact the comedian. In most cases, the comedian will apologise. However, did this woman try doing that before trying to make a furor about Boyles joke?

    Also, surely before the performance she was warned in some shape or form that the content may offend some.

  • Comment number 21.

    It is not comedy to make fun at someoneelse's expense. That is just ridicule.

    A good comedian does not have to ridicule.

  • Comment number 22.

    i cannot imagine how an article can be considered impartial, as presumably is still the goal of BBC journalism when it contains the following:

    .5 quotes from a single person, including one lasting 3 paragraphs.
    .an interview with a person from a pressure group associated with the person offended's views.
    .a history of offensive comments regarding the person accused of being offensive.

    .zero quotes or arguments even remotely defending the person accused of making offensive comments.

  • Comment number 23.

    Whomever he might be, trajic whipping boy Franky Boyle seems to have an advanced sense of the absurd but still, he risked no jokes about the US presidential filibustering election process by gar, nor bankers rewards for grand larcency by them but not for the people

  • Comment number 24.

    Think Frankie is a very funny comedian (especially on Mock the week) but he doesn't have to resort to that sort of humour. There's plenty of other targets that are more deserving and plenty of material - my hat (and heart) goes out to parents who look after those kids

  • Comment number 25.

    Earlyman - don't agree with your point of view. I think jokes about Downs' syndrome is something most of us grew out of when we were 7 ....can appreciate your comments around "buyer beware " though

  • Comment number 26.

    So they went there hoping to hear others insulted for the purposes of humour, but didn't like it when they saw themselves as the targets?

    Boo hoo. Get over it.

  • Comment number 27.

    Frankie Boyle - never heard of him - any relation to Susan?
    As for the "joke" - it is just that - Unless the person who complained can say with absolute honesty and integrity that she has never offended anyone in her life, never made derogatory remarks about any man, woman or child of any age, gender, colour, creed, race, religion, disablilty, sexuality or hair colour then she has a point. However I think it's rather lame on her part to complain about such a comment at a comedy show. I mean fair enough if it was an MP standing up in parliament or your boss in a meeting, but this was a joke at comedy show!
    What has happened to people in this country?

  • Comment number 28.

    They Shouldn't

  • Comment number 29.

    I went to the show of a comedian known for making sick jokes and he made a sick joke. I for one am shocked at this surprising turn of events!

    Personally I thought his sick jokes were hilarious, until he made one that affected me personally in some way, then it was different.

    The government should definitely step in here, to protect my delicate personal sensibilities.

  • Comment number 30.

    Comedy is not funny when it comes at the expense of someone else. Making fun of the disabled is definitely in poor taste and over the line. It may seem ok between two people alone but to broadcast them is low.

  • Comment number 31.

    Free speech is sacrosanct don't like it don't listen.

  • Comment number 32.

    Everybody's bound to be offended by something. I think if you're going to see Frankie Boyle doing a live show, you're going to have to accept that everything is fair game for ridicule, otherwise you shouldn't be there in the first place.

  • Comment number 33.

    Ironically Sharon Smith would have had a stronger case when Frankie Boyle was on BBC TV and earning money through the licence fee. Now he's left and she paid for a ticket to see one of his own shows, without checking either his book or DVDs first she only has herself to blame, Mock The Week has been on TV at least three years for a preview of what he's like!

    The answer is, each to their own, I was more offended at the media's blanket PC forgiveness of Bernard Manning once he was found to be part Jewish after his death, than by any racist joke he ever told.

  • Comment number 34.

    crowshadow wrote:
    They don't repeat "that" Fawlty Towers episode anymore about the Germans for this very reason.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    You should tune into UK Gold. It's been on there a few times recently.

    Apart from that, I totally agree with what you posted earlier.

  • Comment number 35.

    9. At 11:35pm on 09 Apr 2010, crowshadow wrote:
    "I think that if we censored comedy we would lose our concept of what humour is all about. So long as the joke is not meant maliciously, which I do not think was Frankie's intention, then it should be accepted as just a joke. After all, an Irish joke may be deemed racist, unless of course, it is an Irish comedian telling it and the audience is itself Irish. They don't repeat "that" Fawlty Towers episode anymore about the Germans for this very reason, and if we censored comedians based on offending people, we would lose comedy altogether in our mad PC world. Sometimes, we have to laugh at life."

    Agreed, but I've definitely seen the Germans episode of Fawlty Towers quite a few times on BBC2 and on G.O.L.D. in the last few years, so the BBC definitely aren't censoring this comedy classic. Never seen Till Death Us Do Part though. Or ITV's Love Thy Neighbour, both considered to be racist, or rather sending up the racists. Wouldn't mind being able to judge for myself though.

  • Comment number 36.

    Pathetic, absolutely pathetic, the best comedians alive were people like George Carlin,Richard Pryor,Bill Hicks & Lennie Bruce who refused to change their material and if you thought it was offensive then you left and didnt watch them again but why should Frankie apologise or feel sorry for this woman? i think the point has been made how hypocritical this woman is to laugh at other stereotypical jokes but when its directed at something that upsets her she decides to start shooting her mouth off about Frankie, Frankie Boyle is one of the most promising comedians Britian have and Scotland should be very proud of him, if you dont like it dont watch him again and get on with your life, every other comedian in Britian just seems gutless at the moment

  • Comment number 37.

    Comedians should be free to speak about anything, it´s called freedom of speech, whether it´s funny or not is irrelevant, if nobody laughed at a particular joke it would soon disappear from their act, censorship belongs in the past

  • Comment number 38.

    Frankie Boyle is a very dark comedian & you should know what you are walking into if you buy a ticket, if easily offended do not attend! personally i think no humour should be off limits, people who get offended are always looking to be offended, cannot wait to be offended & then complain, there is a thing called gallows humour in this country of which we've thrived on over the years. All power to Frankie Boyle & long may he continue even if he is scottish!

  • Comment number 39.

    Some comedians love to court controversy. They are I'm sure prepared for any backlash. It almost seems like a 'career development' phase they feel they must pass through to earn their stripes.
    When it comes to using the BBC for a platform for such an enterprise the UK public can and should influence whether they give people like Boyle more airtime, as we fund the organisation.
    It's not cricket to pick on a group of people who cannot so easily defend themselves against (or even comprehend) predjudicial / belittling comments. He should apologise and make reparations to benefit people with this condition.
    A price needs to be paid for the free publicity his personaility receives at the expense of this group in the name of 'comedy'.

  • Comment number 40.

    "Mrs Smith said (...) that most of the audience were laughing as far as she was aware."

    Well there you go.
    Unfortunately she was part of the minority being made fun of today; tomorrow it will be someone else for some other reason - but the majority will still be laughing. Finding humour about a minority depends very much on the context in which it's done; it's not necessarily and of itself "cruel" to do this.

    I'm not sure what else could be expected from a comedian like Frankie Boyle - surely not innocent limericks and jolly little family-friendly chuckles?

  • Comment number 41.

    The reason that Frankie Boyle is so funny is because he says exactly what people think, but would never dare to say out loud. If you're likely to get offended don't go and see him live. Stick to DVD's, at least you can switch them off.

    Oh and by the way Crackerjack, comedy is nearly always at the expense of someone else. Go and see a live comedy show, you'll get the idea.

  • Comment number 42.

    I do not believe in the maxim that humour makes all thigs tolerable. Comedians should not transgress the thin line between what is funny and what is insolence. If we go by movies, Charles Chapin, Harold Llyod, Jerry Lewis, Peter Sellers and their contemporaries were the best. There was humour in real mix those days. Today no doubt there are comedians but sans pure humour. The reason for such failing comedy is that they wallow in humour at the expense of the vulnerable and weak, religious prejudices and defects of people, race or cult and so on. This is not fun. The real comedian is one who laughs at himself and makes the world laugh with him.

  • Comment number 43.

    Comedians will hurt other people only when they ran out of ideas. Criticism is a good source of feedback in comedy and never a pleasant one. Comedy involves people, places and things. Focussing on individual strength rather than weaknesses can be a good one, because, both sides have their part in it.

    "Once me and two of my friends went to a monkeys sanctuary with a basket full of bananas. I was holding on the basket while feeding them. Each time few stronger monkeys were getting the share and the weaker one's couldn't even reach close enough. So, we chased out the stronger one's and the little one's got friendlier. We sat down with them and there were too many of them. To avoid a looting we put the basket behind us and within a second the basket disappeared, the basket later thrown down from the tree, nothing but empty".

  • Comment number 44.

    I wonder what people with Down's syndrome think of comedic abuse.

  • Comment number 45.

    I really dont agree with the notion that all comedy offends at least somebody - it is no defence to say that Frankie offended X,Y,Z and therefore he is allowed to offend people who have association with Downs syndrome.

    Down syndrome is genetic, you are born with it and there is no cure - this is quite fundamental - this is a very cheap shot. Perhaps Frankie should spends some time with families who have children with Down Syndrome to find out a what it is really like to live with.

    As a side note, I made jokes about disabled people as a child, and now I have a disabled daughter. I even find the premise behind shows like "Outnumbered" offensive - "I have perfectly normal children and I'm unhappy" - why is this funny? (although Hugh Dennis is a good example of a comedian who doesn't resort to offending people for cheap laughs)

  • Comment number 46.

    Personally, I like Frankie Boyle. He has had me rocking with laughter in my seat at home. However, I'm overweight and I have red hair - there is absolutely NO WAY I would buy a front row ticket to one of this performances.

    Surely, there shouldn't have to be a public warning notice that Frankie Boyle can be offensive? People who buy tickets surely know that already?

  • Comment number 47.

    I think the BBC should get off its bigoted bandwagon. Not content with being the deliverer of the worse that PC can offer the BBC now goes in for patent hypocrisy.

    So how much is the BBC paying a certain Mr Ross after delivering on air insults to a completely innocent actor? How much is the BBC paying its so called political pundits for their far from sharp analysis of our political systems? How cute has the BBC news department been in delivering accurate stories? How accurate has the BBC been with its audience participation machinery?

    So its okay to peddle this stuff, BBC, as long as you are not caught shovelling it yourself? At least this guy was trying to make us laugh instead of crying.

  • Comment number 48.

    It's all about talent. You've either got it or you haven't.

    With comedians it's about being funny and, frankly, Frankie Boyle just ain't funny.

  • Comment number 49.

    I think there are certainly limits when being a comedian. You can be very limited for what you can say. I know Frankie doesn't want to apoligise and he tryed to make people stick up for him. If you didn't already know, he went round the stage asking people if he was very nasty. that lady said he was, the one with the disabled child. I hope Frankie understands rather soon he is a stuck up, stubborn twit and he always will be.

  • Comment number 50.

    I don't know why anyone would want to go and see Mr Boyle. He is the most unfunny comedian ever! What a horrible ordeal for this family. But then that is the essence of Mr Boyle - just a bully who hides behind the tag of comedian. Rubbish!

  • Comment number 51.

    Much as I feel for her child, if this lady has EVER laughed at at a joke that targeted one paticular group in society that has a problem then she cannot complain about a sequence in a show by a comedian renowned for his "no holds barred" comedy that confronts her childs problems.
    Frankie is a comedian with the guts to say what others are thinking, he exposes all of us for what we are - and I admire him for that!

  • Comment number 52.

    Frankie Boyle seems to think if it makes himself laugh it won't do anyone any harm. People could make a crack at him and he'd laugh it off simply because he doesn't care, yet what he forgets is that not everyone is so dense. Too many people seem to think that going to see him is a double edges blade. Sorry? If I want to see a comedian I'd go to see some live humour, without the risk of being insulted by someone who's idea of humour is to degrade others.

    He is a great example of the worthless rags in society.

  • Comment number 53.

    I used to think he was fab & very funny .... but not anymore! Its not just he who is to blame but those too who laughed. He thought he was funny but its a cheap laugh at other peoples expense & heartache! He should be removed off the telly for 1 month to show disgust! He should issue an apology, before he is allowed back on.

  • Comment number 54.

    Frankie Boyle can be very funny. Sadly he sometimes finds it neccessary to pick on members or sections of society who for one reason or another he finds easy targets. Cheap shots like this are not funny. In this particular instance his ignorance on the subject sorely let him down and well done to those who challenged him and showed him lacking. We went to see Dara O'Briain last night in Nottingham and he was absolutley hilarious and not a cheap shot (apart from one small one directed at Frankie) in sight. Mr Boyle could learn alot.

  • Comment number 55.

    i went to frankies show in plymouth last night and he did highlight the hooha thats been in the press about this joke and he told us what the jokes were. quite frankly the audience DID laugh, maybe not everyone, but then not everyone laughed at the cancer jokes, not everyone laughs at the gay jibes, normally this is because it's a personal issue that touches them. That's fair enough, but it doesn't stop them coming to see him because they no his sick sense of humour will touch on subjects that will have them laughing their socks off.
    This woman who complained, had probably been laughing her head off at the burka jokes, the slagging off of the scots, etc. She's just jumped on her high horse because he chose a subject she didn't like. Why didn't she just get up and leave. Bottom line is she tried very hard to get these tickets for the front row so she DID know what to expect, she's had her five minutes of fame now it's time to put this subject to bed and let this popular hilarious man get on with his job!

  • Comment number 56.

    Just because this comedian may think it is funny to attack certain members of the community doesn't mean that joe public have to agree or put up with it. I am outraged at these comments there should be a limit to what content is used.Being offensive to people with Downse Syndrome or somebody with a disability scrapes the bottom of the barrel. I wonder if Frankie realises the pain and anguish families endure from ignorent people with their misconseptions.
    People with Downse Syndrome make a valued contribution to society, pity there are still people among us who live in the dark ages.
    What really annoys me is the fact that this comedian lines his own pockets at the expense of others, and that there seems to be so many misinformed idiots who see nothing wrong with his comments!
    What on earth are we coming to, there's no wonder the whole world is at loggerheads with each other when we laugh at the misfortune of others!!

  • Comment number 57.

    Before he is allowed back on the television he should go and meet some of these adults & children, educate himself, he will see he was wrong & maybe he could give some money to the little 5 year old girl ....

  • Comment number 58.

    Given MRs Smith is ALL over the newsparers and tv that she went out to promote her views. Our tv and newspapaers love "victims" where there are none.Theyb elevate such people to a morally superior position and allow them toe express their views as if they are unchallengeable.

    Mrs SMith says in her blog she went to here Frankie Boyles "nasty" humour? So as long as it about someone else and not relevant to herself it is okay.

    Frankie Boyle is a controversial comedian. He races close to the bone. HE says things which offend which in this day and agae of people like Mrs Smith I say Thank God. Edge humour, the kind which which saw a Jerry Sadwitz or Bill HIcks become legends is rare. Instead we are foced to have uncritical "safe" and ultimately bland humour to avoide hurthing delicate or hypocritical peoples feelings.

    Going to see Franckie Boyle and sitting at the front is a risk. Mrs Smith went for his "nasty" humour unfortunately she decided he couldn't be "nasty" about something she has experience of. The ability to accept that something is merely a joke went out the windwo and while laughing undoubtably at other targets she didn't like this one. As a result the media generator went into overdrive and the victimhood has been built all I guess with the aim of destroying the largest comedian in the UK todays career. That's what I call nasty.

  • Comment number 59.

    The fault lies with those who employ people like Boyle. Most BBC comedians in recent years tend to be offensive and I suspect that this is because the BBC has lost the art of being able to entertain.

  • Comment number 60.

    If the parents had watched Frankie Boyle's performances on Mock the Week then surely they should have known that he is crude and offensive most of the time. Seems they can cope with jokes about everyone else, but when it gets too close to home they can't take it.

  • Comment number 61.

    How come the people wingeing here aren't complaining about jokes about fat people? Good old double standards strike again.

  • Comment number 62.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 63.

    Its funny until someone gets hurt, then its hilarious !

    Stop whining, everyone is a fair target.

  • Comment number 64.

    Proper humour isn't about causing offence. Thinking up ways of deliberately poking fun at disabled people is not acceptable.
    Likewise, a joke in closed company can be funny but to an extended audience could be offensive. A truely talented comedian will recognise this.
    Billy Connolly is an excellent example of a comedian who is a master of his craft. Frankie Boyle is not!

  • Comment number 65.

    so called humour that pokes fun at anyone who is disadvantaged and defenceless, and to embarras and be little people in front of others, which some would say is simply being outragious, is definitely not funny these so called comics that get laughs from equally sadistic people who laugh at these jokes is like the bear batting kind of humour and in my opinion is nothing short of bullying in its most disgusting form I dont think this typoe of comedian is at all funny, and when they poke fun at themselvs or their country of origin in order to try to make it o.k. shows a real lack of respect for everything and anything and anyone.

  • Comment number 66.

    There is surely a difference between making jokes about able minded people and those who have a mental disability. My son has complex needs inculding mental disability and i am becoming increasingly angry when we go out and about and other children start sniggering at him. He is aware enough to hear and be hurt by the sniggers but unable to defend himself. If i don't protect him, who will? Full marks to the Mum at the show, the rest of you who seem to think that there should be no boundaries to comedy should try living as a carer for a vulnerable child 24:7. You might find your sense of humour less robust.

  • Comment number 67.

    As a family we once went to see Jim Davidson live. Mum and Dad used to like him very much after his appearrances on various BBC game shows. The live show was billed as 'Adults Only', so we had a fair idea of what to expect. Anyway, part way through the performance Jim suddenly stops his routine (or so it appears) looks to where the wheelchair patrons are sitting, and says, "Are you lot in wheelchairs? Well I hope you've (swear word) paid!" He then launches into a 10minute or so routine denegrating and villifying wheelchair users. He starts it off by saying that at a recent gig he suddenly looked down into the stalls and saw an empty wheelchair. Anyway, this whole segment draws huge laughs from the audience. It didn't draw any from Mum and dad though, because Mum was one of those in a wheelchair. I had to go out and buy Jim's DVD of the tour to show her it was part of his standard routine and he used that segment at all his shows. So should we be offended by comedians when they target our 'group'? No! We should just laugh right along with them.

  • Comment number 68.

    I am not surprised at the row over this sense of humour so many of our so called comics seem to have. Downs syndrome sufferers are an easy target, they can't respond. But comics like Boyle are typical of the genre.
    Watching the 'Bruce Forsythe Roast' earlier in the week brought home to me how low some of our supposed comedians have become. The language was atrocious it was 'f' this and 'f' that. In stage shows the language is as bad, but at least, one knows in advance how these people get their laughs.
    But watching the 'Roast' I thought of the original Dean Martin Roasts of many years ago. Exerts of these can be found on You Tube. They are hilarious. But there is not a single swear word, no overt sexual innuendo.
    Can we imagine Morecombe and Wise using foul language or denigrating the disabled?
    But this is a symptom of modern Britain where swearing is the norm.

  • Comment number 69.

    To avoid giving offence to someone is almost impossible... but the best bet is to always try to laugh WITH people, rather than AT them.

    That said, so few stand-ups are funny at all that I rarely bother to listen.

  • Comment number 70.

    Interesting, my earlier post had to be moderated becaue it failed the profanity filtre, even though I did not use any profanity, just suggested it.
    Yet, we are faced by profanity on TV in the evenings in movies and 'comedy' shows. Surely, double standards apply at the BBC.

  • Comment number 71.

    Frankie Boyle has a page in the Sun, every week and I must admit, I do not find it readle, funny, or even a tad amusing.

    Frankie Boyle seems to be an individual who's style of humour is so unique that few are on the same wavelength.

    There are brilliant new comedians out there that I find hilarious, especially Russell Howard, Alan Carr and Rhod Gilbert, but Michael McIntyre and Frankie Boyle just dont make me laugh.

    I guess comedians sometimes just don't realise that making jokes about certain things can rebound against them, Maybe they should have someone who reads their material and hopefully stops them using material that could offend.

    I dont mind being offended and can take jokes at my expense, but there are others who are more sensitive. Its a fact that I am somewhat overweight and am an Englishman living in Wales, so please make jokes at my expense. I have broad shoulders. But Frankie Boyle seems to forget that some people are "more delicate", so he gets what he deserves.

  • Comment number 72.

    Frankie Boyle will never change his show. Simple as that. Cancer, downs syndrome, child abuse, incest, etc, etc, etc. You name the taboo - he'll cover it. And get used to it. You know what to expect. You shouldnt have bought tickets if you were easily offended.

    Maybe next time you should do your homework a little bit better, and stop criticising people trying to make a living from things that, whether you agree or not, thousands, if not millions, of people are willing to see the funny side of.

    Yes - you're affected by his topics of humour. So are most of us. But give yourself a shake and deal with it. Like the rest of us have. I have a downs syndrome niece, i have a father who survived cancer, i have friends who have been affected by many of his subject matters. The difference is that they dont pay/watch/listen to him because they know they will be offended.

    Grow up. Everyone else has.

  • Comment number 73.

    Boyle is an embarrassment to comedy. He aims to shock and then, when someone challenges him, it's all "oh, look at the horrible life I've had". I find most things funny, but he is just a cruel and vindictive man.

  • Comment number 74.

    Post 66 Stephanie wrote, "Full marks to the Mum at the show, the rest of you who seem to think that there should be no boundaries to comedy should try living as a carer for a vulnerable child 24:7. You might find your sense of humour less robust."

    Dear Stephanie,
    Since my Dad died I have become Mum's full time carer. I am well used to people speaking to me instead of Mum in her wheelchair, when it is her they should be speaking to, or letting doors go in our face when I'm trying to push her into a shop or restaurant etc. I still say we should laugh with the comedians.
    Regards,
    Dave

  • Comment number 75.

    I wouldn't want to go to see Chubby Brown as I don't find his material funny, I find it offensive, Jethro I wasn't that impressed with either.

    I would go to see Alan Carr, Frankie Boyle and Billy Connolly.
    Its personal taste generally I find Jewish comedians tell the best jewish jokes, Iranians tell the best Iranian jokes, Black comedians tell the best black jokes add infinitum

  • Comment number 76.

    Humour is the bedrock of a free society. Nobody and no group should be protected from humourous comments. If anyone is felt to be beyond the reach of comedy then where does it stop? No religious jokes, no racial jokes, no political jokes...?

    Smile don't complain. Your complaint won't make your miserable life any better, will it? A smile might...

  • Comment number 77.

    Let's just ban comedy eh. Jokes always target somebody, whether that's the intelligence of chickens crossing the road, Irish people, fat people, religion, politicians, whatever. Everybody could choose to be offended by humour which has some connection to them, so better safe than sorry, let's just ban all jokes. Better still, let's just stop people from talking eh, cause everybody has said something in their life that offends somebody else.

  • Comment number 78.

    Glenn wrote:

    "If you go to see Frankie you know he is going to be offensive to everyone. For every disabled joke he tells, he will tell 10 about himself or Scotland."


    Ahh,I see,well that justifies it all then,because he is self-depreciating?

  • Comment number 79.

    Hmm. Never seen the bloke, but it sounds like his act is a bit tired. Abuse 'humour' is going out of fashion, finally. But there will always be some who'll gather in a crowd to taunt and make themselves feel superior.

    Sharon Smith is foolish for paying to join in with a playground bully, and then getting annoyed when he turns on her.

  • Comment number 80.


    Essentially this person is okay with the jokes about other sections of the population and will happily join in poking fun at the, but as soon as it's a subject which directly affects her she comaplains. If Franky Boyle didn't tell jokes which could be offensive he wouldn't have a show, if you don't like his style then don't go to his show.

  • Comment number 81.

    I feel really sorry for Frankie Boyle - sorry because he does not seem to realise how deeply offensive some of his 'jokes' are? You would have thought getting bumped off Mock the Week would have taught him something. Instead, he seems intent on taking up the mantle as the new Bernard Manning. Well, if that's what floats his boat, good luck to him but I for one won't be going to see him.

  • Comment number 82.

    Frankie boyal exhibits the sort of sense of humour common in scotland. Its the humour where you are cruel to somebody to try and make yourself look big.

    People laugh at him because he mocks celebs or generic minorities. But if you went out for a drink with him you'd soon realise he'd be making a joke about YOU or sombody you are with he would put them down to make himself look big. Its pathetic.

    Why or why do we not have any REAL comedians in the UK? Ground breaking comics who philosophise. Thats what the height of comedy is about, philosophy.

    Frankie boyal does not have the intellectual capactiy to compete with the likes of Bill Hicks, Bill Carlin or Doug Stanhope. These guys are/were real comedians, philosphers.

  • Comment number 83.

    Post #81 - Lombardo8 - the majority of posters in this thread could do with taking your advice. If it floats your boat then it floats your boat. Rightly or wrongly. Its an individual choice. Something that we should pride ourselves on (individual choice that is). Again, rightly or wrongly. But who's to tell us if it's one or the other?

  • Comment number 84.

    @Julia P #6
    Boyle will find,much as Ross,Clarkson and "Diceman"found that when your career depends on offensive sixth form humour the only way forward is to become more and more outrageous until you lose all respect and fizzle out

  • Comment number 85.

    Frankie is well known for having few limits and as such "she should have known what to expect at his show". As for the question When is comedy not funny? Its when you are not laughing and that can happen for two reasons.

    a) Simply not funny, or
    b) The joke is on you, it offends your sensibilities.

    Frankie is never the first, but he will hit a few (b) cases every now and then and in this case he hit a raw nerve for this lady. Perfectly understandable, but its not Frankies fault.

  • Comment number 86.

    Never heard of Frankie Boyle, so I can't really comment on his jokes that offended this lady. But on the topic of jokes about disabled people, I've been wondering how long it would take for people to cotton on to this. "The TT Crowd" contains a character, Moss, who very obviously has Aspergers Syndrome - I know, because my twelve year old son is an "Aspie". The character of Moss fits perfectly into the Aspie stereotype - computer nerd, soci

  • Comment number 87.

    I bought tickets for my husband and 20 year old son to attend Frankie Boyle's Glasgow show. Both decided to leave early finding his brand of shock humour to be lacking the wit and cleverness of his Mock The Week appearances. We also have a child with a disability-autism- and are no strangers to black humour and disability jokes. Having found ourselves in so many cringeable situations in the past we howl at the comedy of the unbelievable fixes we have found ourselves in all over the globe. Frankie Boyle should have done better in his attempts at humour. To make Madeleine McCann the punchline for one "joke" and to make light of paedophilia is not acceptable. Frankie Boyle won't get our money again.

  • Comment number 88.

    sorry, pressed wrong button!
    ... socially inept - and yet... he is VERY FUNNY!
    Perhaps the crux of this matter is whether or not the joke is funny in the first place. The IT Crowd, written by Graham Linehan of "Father Ted", is brilliantly written. From what I've read here, Boyle seems out to shock rather than entertain, and his "emperor's new clothes" audiences laugh whether or not the joke is funny.

  • Comment number 89.

    I think Frankie Boyle is juvenile, crass, offensive and about as funny as migraine, which is why I would never pay to go and see him.

    I have, however, been to see Billy Connolly a couple of times; I didn't find him offensive, but I'm sure some of the audience did. His language was appalling and he had a go at every man and his dog, but he was also extremely funny.

    If you don't want to be offended DON'T go to see these people. It's not as though you don't know what to expect.

  • Comment number 90.

    We have to draw the line when & where the object of the comedy cannot help being what they are & we are taking advantage of their disabilities &/or misfortune: this would simply be unfair.

  • Comment number 91.

    I`ve seen this fool on TV. And one thing I do know, he is not and never will be funny.
    But what is so sad, is this, he actually thinks he is funny, poor chap.
    Any comedian that resorts to this kind of low-life comedy is beyond help, swearing also is a no,no.
    Whatever happened to good old - non-swearing - comedians.
    The BBC, ITV, CH5, CH4 should be jumped on from a great height, and warned about this kind of unwanted filth.

  • Comment number 92.

    I like Frankie and he was brilliant on Mock the Week, when ripping into the latest news and such. He's very quick witted and therefore this was the perfect show for him. He's also very cutting and doesn't hold back. When people go and see him they'll know he's be a bit close to the bone, and should expect some offensive jokes to be told. But I'm not defending what he said the other day, because thats not even comedy. Anyone can stand on a stage and say that type of person is funny looking, people with this disability are mongs. I don't mind offensive humour if it has some substance to it, but to just reel off lines like that is pathetic. It's 2010 for Christ sake.

  • Comment number 93.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 94.

    Comedy is not funny when it doesn't work.
    However, we are at our best when the joke is on us and we laugh along, even though it stings a bit it is a good sting. This bittersweet laughter helps us to feel human. It is this kind of laughter that reminds us that we are all human and share lives that are long, or too short, and through our struggles, and cares have to laugh at the the parts that sometimes make us want to cry.

  • Comment number 95.

    Frankie Boyle is an absolute legend. I would have thought people who bought tickets for his comedy show would have been aware of how dark his jokes are. To laugh at him making fun of others one minute, and then to take offense the next minute when it affects you is just hypocrisy.

    Comedy is about pushing bounderies. Not being able to tell a good joke because it might offend someone isn't a route we should go down as a modern society. Thats censorship, right?

  • Comment number 96.

    "78. At 10:02am on 10 Apr 2010, alex wrote:

    Glenn wrote:

    "If you go to see Frankie you know he is going to be offensive to everyone. For every disabled joke he tells, he will tell 10 about himself or Scotland."


    Ahh,I see,well that justifies it all then,because he is self-depreciating?"

    At least when a comedian is self-deprecating he isn't always assuming a superior position over his targets. When did Sacha Baron Cohen ever tell a Jewish joke? So far it's been black people, gay people, Eastern Europeans and the French on his way up to Hollywood stardom.

  • Comment number 97.

    Sorry, but people really need to stop taking offence to every single thing in this world. A comedian is a comedian they will make fun of anything and everything. I personally am ginger, overweight and suffer with an sever anxiety disorder, I dont think there has been 1 day of my adult life someone has not made a joke about 1 of these 3 things about me. Do I take offence NO. Why? Because its a JOKE. Obviously if it is done with malice and conducted as a personal attack it is out of order BUT with franky it's a bit of fun. I can be 100% certain in the fact that everyone who reads this has at some point in their life laughed at someone or something's present or past misfortune.

    A joke is a joke please take it as that, the world would be a better place if we all laughed together.

  • Comment number 98.

    What a smug little worm this man is...I remember recently he humiliated a female Olympic swimmer.... If I could have one wish it would be to turn him into a Down sufferer for a year, so he could see exactly what its like.....

  • Comment number 99.

    Perhaps this man should stick to insulting people who can and would fight back..How about insulting some devout followers of the Koran, or try insulting some Rap or Hip hop performer ?...Then you could either have Fatwa all to yourself or a Cap up your Ass. He has picked on a very very vulnerable group of disabled people, who have limited life spans, and who by nature are in my experience very gentle.

  • Comment number 100.

    Cheap gags to get cheap laughs. Its far easier to make crass remarks than craft more subtle humour.
    Too many comedians rely on jibes at minority groups rather than admit they are bereft of better material. Its fine if the comic uses himself as a source of humour but to pick on innocent victims of Downs Syndrome is just pure laziness.
    All the truly great comedians have managed without resorting to this form of bullying so why does Frankie Boyle have to be different. Let us hope that this form of entertainment doesn't turn round and bite him on the bum. God forbid if he ever became the father of a disabled child but if he did he might see that what he sees as humour is unacceptable. It just makes him a poor performer in my eyes.

 

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