Frankie Boyle and Birmingham

At the end of last year, I went to see Frankie Boyle in Birmingham. I wrote about it, saved it as a draft and never posted it. Why? I didn’t think it was very good (yes, there is some quality control on this blog).

Also, it’s not finished.

However, it seems Frankie Boyle is trending on Twitter today, so I thought I might as well post this. Here you go.

(Originally written 14th December 2010.)

This Sunday I went to Birmingham.

The drive was the most convoluted ever, thanks to a major accident on the M5, which closed 3 junctions. But got there, we did. We stayed at a Holiday Inn Express, and I can’t fault them really. Friendly staff, comfortable bed, pretty good selection of tv channels available, and all for £46 (breakfast included).
If I had any gripes it was that the window wasn’t double glazed (bit noisy outside), and there were no electrical sockets by the bed. This is the same for most hotels I’ve stayed in over the last few years. Come on hotel chains! I want to plug my phone/laptop in to charge, and have it by the bed/sofa where I can use it.

We’d gone to see Frankie Boyle at the NIA. I’ve been a big fan of his work on Mock the Week, and the complaints he garners always make for interesting reading.
It took a few attempts to find the NIA. It’s a big arena in the centre, but there’s so many, that it’s easy to head for one, only to discover “oh no – that’s the conference centre”, or “oh it’s a gallery”, or “no – that one’s a theatre”. The number of relatively large capacity venues in close proximity is quite impressive. I’ve lived in Bristol for the last 10 years, and the “will they/won’t ONE decent-sized arena” makes it seem all the more surreal, to be suddenly surrounded by them, unable to find the right one among them.

One thing I hadn’t expected was for the Birmingham to have some quite impressive looking buildings. I won’t pretend to know anything about architecture, but they had some with pointy bits sticking out, buildings covered in silver dots (Selfridges), and other unusual looking things. I had expected Birmingham to be rather grey, concrete and depressing, if I’m honest. I was quite wrong.

Inside the NIA is mostly concrete, with fixed chairs around the edge. In the stalls-type of area, the chairs can be added/removed at will, so it is clearly multi-use. With the ground chairs, it is fine for comedy. Without them, you could easily play some sort of sport in the middle. there are professional video equipment and giant screen to keep a good eye on whatever is happening in there, wherever it might be happening. Why doesn’t Bristol stop pissing about with this boring football stadium and build a proper variable venue, that can be used for lots of different types of things?

The Gig

As for Frankie. He’s not worth the cost. Get the DVD.
As we went in, it was about 50% full. They were showing clips of his new Channel4 tv series Tramadol Nights on the big screens.

I’ve got to be honest and say, considering there were thousands of hardcore fans who had shelled out £30+ for a ticket each, there wasn’t a lot of laughing going on. It was pretty quiet in there. Some of the clips were far too long, overly gory and (worse) just not very funny. Also, some seemed a bit old. Jokes about The A-Team, and Knight Rider?

After he came out and did some stand up, there was more laughter, but I started to get a bit bored of the similar structure of a lot of it. It goes like this:
“Have you seen that <name of famous person>? He/she looks like a fucking <rude description>.”

I’m all for calling Danny Dyer a cunt, but there was just a bit too much of it.
I guess watching Mock the Week, you saw two minutes of it, then it went off into something else. But over an hour of it, is too much.
When he occasionally did some proper jokes, he was actually quite funny.

He picked on some people in the front row. I will never understand why people book tickets for the front row of a standup comedy gig. Or the second row. Sit at least 8-9 rows back, if you don’t want them to come out and ask you where you’re from. Two members of the front row got up and left before the show was over. Other members of the row thought they might be coming back. As far as I know, they didn’t.

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