Thursday, 8 April 2010

Punching me in the face would have been preferable...

I have been meaning to start a blog for a long time now, just to jot down my random warblings and brain dumps, more for me than to gain an audience/following. It has been on my 'to do' list for so long now that I thought I would never actually get round to doing it.

Until I went to see Frankie Boyle last night on his 'I would happily punch every one of you in the face' tour - opening night of the 113 show tour at Reading Hexagon. And right now i have a huge need to do a brain dump, and twitter is just not doing it for me today ;) too much to say for 140 characters.

Last summer I booked front row tickets to see Frankie Boyle on tour - as soon as I put the phone down I wondered if i had made a massive mistake booking tickets so close to the front, hoped I would not live to regret it. Right now I wish we had not even gone to see the show, never mind the worries about front row tickets.

One of the reasons that we wanted to see Frankie Boyle was that we have seen him on shows like Mock the Week and have loved his humour, how dry he is, how clever he is. We wanted to see him out of the confines of a TV editing suite, to hear him say things he could not get away with on mainstream TV.

My beautiful, feisty, determined 5 year old daughter has Down syndrome and last night Frankie Boyle spent a good few minutes in the second half of his show making joke after joke about people with DS. And they werent even clever or funny jokes either (though the audience were still laughing - well everyone except me and the 5 people I had gone out with last night)

I know talentless comedians like Jimmy Carr have a history and reputation of poking fun at people with disabilities, but I never expected it from Frankie Boyle. Not at all, indeed I thought he was cleverer than that. I expected dry, nasty, crude humour, yes, but unimaginitive humour poking fun at the stereotype of people with Down syndrome was not something that I expected.

I don't know whether he had planned to include a section on poking fun at people with Down syndrome, or whether it simply lead on from a joke he was making about Microsoft (following audience interaction) so I have no idea whether or not this part of his show will be included in the rest of the 'I would happily punch every one of you in the face' tour or not.

He did not seem to be stopping - jokes about the way people with DS talk, jokes about the way they dress, jokes about the jobs they can do, jokes about their haircuts, jokes about their parents being old and old-fashioned (fwiw I was 31 when I had my daughter - looking at Frankie Boyle and the various mentions of his 2yr old son last night, I would say that was a good few years younger than when he had children - and I read Grazia and shop in TopShop, hardly the stereotypical old frumpy mum eh?)

The more jokes he made, the harder I found it to stay unemotional and detached - My husband noticed and asked if i was ok. At which point Frankie noticed him talking to me and came over (oh how i wish I had not booked front row seats). He asked why we were talking during his show. I wanted the ground to swallow me up. I have never felt so small, so stupid, so emotional and tbh so pathetic. How can a stranger make me feel like that?

So i told him. I told him that my 5 yr old daughter has Down syndrome and that I was simply upset at some of his jokes. He tried to laugh it off 'ahh, but its all true isnt it? everything i have said is true isnt it?' to which I replied no, it wasnt. He then went on to say that it was the most excrutiating moment of his career but then tried to claw the humour (?) back by saying we had paid to come and see him and what should we expect. To which I replied that I understood that and that it was my personal problem/upset. He then said it was the last tour ever and that he didnt give a f*ck.

This was followed by a 5 minute explanation of his humour, and why he is so nasty, dry etc. He was obviously unsettled by the episode, but nothing like the way I felt. I truly have never felt so small.

So what was meant to be a great night out turned out to be a complete disaster. I dont feel that I did my daughter any justice at all. To the audience I was just 'some woman who got offended' (yes I have read that posted about me on twitter this morning - thanks @bryanhull). And as for Frankie Boyle, well he has already told me he doesnt give a f*ck.

I wish that I had managed to explain to them all why i was upset, to tell them how wrong the stereotypes about Down syndrome are. I wanted to show them how proud i am of my daughter, to tell them about how well she is doing at mainstream school. To show them the hundreds of pictures I have of her, so that they can see how pretty she is, that she wears pretty clothes and that she does not have bad hair (well apart from when she has put toothpaste or marmite in it anyway). I wanted to break through their prejudices and to show how wrong the stereotypes are. But instead all I did was make people think I was someone who couldnt appreciate live stand up comedy. Which isnt the case at all

I love stand up comedians, and I had been so looking forward to seeing Frankie Boyle. I have been to comedy clubs and sat through poor unimaginitive comedians poking fun at people with disabilities, and come away unscathed and not needing to start writing a blog about it. But I was disappointed in Frankie Boyle last night. He doesnt need to stoop to such low levels, such poor humour. He is better than that.

Or so I thought....