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Frankie Boyle – Prometheus Volume III

at Edinburgh Playhouse

* * * * -

Typically virulent set from the Scottish bad boy of comedy.

Image of Frankie Boyle – Prometheus Volume III

Frankie Boyle is a bit like Marmite – acerbic to the taste, never one to play well with others and invariably shocking to the uninitiated. In this, his third (but really for all intents and purposes second) volume of the Prometheus series, he picks up where he left off last year, spitting out more hilariously barbed bile at all manner of targets, including the royals, the Tories, Labour, Trump and other usual suspects, as well as a handful of less obvious ones such as his ex-stalker, James Corden and a belligerent Liverpudlian in the balcony section.

For ardent fans of Boyle’s work, things get off to an inauspicious start as he opens the show with a gag heard at least once before about the Scottish proclivity for swearing. The next 15 minutes fare little better, with much recycled (but admittedly excellent) material taken directly from his onscreen appearances and previous gigs. However, the concentration of second-hand jokes is quickly diluted and then dissolved altogether by an avalanche of entirely new tirades, which may beat a fairly standard track in terms of their victims but do so in the most novel of ways.

His take on the MeToo controversy appears refreshingly honest, as he addresses the wrongs committed by arch-villains Kevin Spacey and Harvey Weinstein, before venturing into shakier territory with a summation of Louis CK’s misdemeanours. Alas, just as it appears Boyle might be offering genuine insight, it collapses as the setup for the darkest of trademark jokes. Elsewhere, his analysis of insomnia and his withering appraisal of several Tory cabinet members are right on the money, earning as much agreement as they do amusement. He’s a loose cannon with a bayonet attached, but his moral compass appears to at least be in semi-working order.

It’s this ability to pinpoint what none of us have dared to contemplate but instantly recognise as true, and to deliver it with caustic condemnation, that makes Boyle such a magnetic performer. It’s a shame that such a large proportion of the beginning of the set is dominated by ones we’ve heard before, but pity the fool who tells him to stop. Indeed, even if some of the jokes are second-hand, they’re still fresher than most of the politically-correct comedy found on TV nowadays, and Boyle’s devil-may-give-a-fuck attitude is a breath of fresh air and a welcome invitation to guffaw at the laughably chaotic state of the world today.