Pass the Tramadol

I know I’m a little late to the party, but it’s been a busy week….

So Frankie Boyle was back in the headlines again after taking the piss out of a disabled child, namely Katie Price’s son Harvey. Well that’s comedy at it’s most cutting edge isn’t it? Look for the easiest and most vulnerable target, aim and fire. I couldn’t give a toss if Boyle wants to take the piss out Katie Price, she relentlessly volunteers for it with her endless posturing and parading of her private life in front of the cameras.

However, Harvey Price is never going to have an especially high quality of life, he’ll never be in a position to tell Frankie Boyle to fuck off or to answer for himself; he’ll never even be aware that he’s the butt of a crap joke. Would Boyle have made similar gags based on Harvey’s race? No, he wouldn’t dare; he would be lynched and rightly so; but regrettably, taking the piss out of disability is still viewed as acceptable by some. Well educated people who would never laugh at gags about sexuality or race still have a guilty giggle when the topic is disability, it’s not PC, and you know you shouldn’t laugh but you can’t help it…..

I have joked about my disability and laughed when others have made decent digs or quips, but Boyle hasn’t done that, he’s just poked fun at an eight year old boy with severe physical and mental disabilities which will have a detrimental affect on the rest his life. He’ll never be able to live independently, drive fast cars, be an astronaut nor build a career as a third rate comic.

My response is not based upon a sense of humour failure, I’m from a large Irish family, believe me, I have a very well developed and acerbic sense of humour.  As most disabled people will agree, we have a darker sense of humour than most; we need it to get through life. If you can’t laugh at some of the crazy shit life throws at you when you have a disability, you’re going to fall at a number of hurdles.

I used to find Boyle funny but have now decided to stop watching him, if disability shtick is going to be his “thing” because it’s lazy, controversial and guarantees him publicity then he can revel in being the playground bully. Until we have comedians or entertainers with disabilities on television shows or guest appearances on comedy panel shows, we don’t have an equal platform on which to respond and give Boyle a taste of his own out of date medicine.


About Shannon Murray

I am an actress, broadcaster, writer and lawyer; not really that unusual but I am also paraplegic as a result of an accident as a teenager. This is the place where I ramble on about random stuff.
This entry was posted in Disability, Randomness. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Pass the Tramadol

  1. Pierre says:

    Great posting. Interesting topic. I love controversial comedy. I like comedians who dare to tackle darker themes and make us laugh. I respect entertainers who have the balls to touch a subject others would not go near and apply that unique stroke of genius. I welcome people who push the envelope. They are artists and don’t give a damn what anyone thinks and kudos to them too. It’s what defines them and gives them their identity. One must champion the rights of comedians, artistic licence and freedom of speech. However……..the question is begging: How far is too far?
    It’s probably not such an issue that Frankie Boyle used disability in his material. It’s the manner of it that perhaps was offensive. In other words…it’s not what you say-it’s the way you say it. Disability is a topic for humour. Now, hold on, that doesn’t mean that I am a cruel heartless individual who revels in the misfortunes of others. Off course not. I just look at it like race, religion, sex, politics, war and any other sensitive topic. It’s something that is important and demands attention and discussion and –wait for it- if you are fearless and intelligent enough – maybe, just maybe you can make it genuinely funny. If Boyle had been smart enough and approached it in a different way, perhaps the response would have been different and it may not have generated such a fierce backlash. What do I mean by different?

    Well, Ricky Gervais’ work finely illustrates my point here. He is someone who constantly challenges his audience. Disability is just one of many so called risky themes he discusses. He is not afraid to commentate on such taboo subjects and get his audience not just reeling in the aisles but also thinking deeply about it and perhaps even to the point where some sort of constructive debate may later occur. His brand of comedy is very provocative yet always seems to be acceptable. I’ve heard him gag about everything from disability to the holocaust but no fuss is caused. He occasionally walks the line and raises a few eyebrows amongst the PC brigade (big deal) but as far as I know he never gets in any kind of serious trouble and he has fans from all walks of life – many of whom might be seen as the target of his jokes but they don’t mind. They buy a ticket knowing what to expect. Nobody heckles him, nobody storms out, nobody complains or condemns him, threatens to sue, no negative press attention nor outrage etc. Now why is that? He is just bloody clever. Pure and simple. The man uses his brains before he writes and opens his mouth. He shows the necessary respect to his audience and society. That’s why. He doesn’t quite cross the line yet he certainly doesn’t hold back- he knows his boundaries and he treads them very well, he knows exactly how far he needs to go to get the reaction he wants and maybe that’s the mark of an intelligent funny man. Boyle just went straight for the jugular at 100mph- that’s way too easy. Nothing original or sophisticated in that.

    I don’t believe Ricky insults disabled people (or anyone for that matter). He just comments on disability and all his chosen topics in his own unique and witty manner and there is a world of a difference. That is the beauty of his work. It is thought-provoking comedy at its finest. Boyle had the right to use disability in his routine but the gag was cheap and nasty. He might justify it by saying it’s only a joke, lighten up, he didn’t mean it etc. Now whilst that may be true -it’s not really an excuse, the damage has been done. He should have been more subtle. He should have used a bit more savvy. We need more like Ricky in the world. We need more comedians of all abilities ready to push the boundaries and tackle the darker side of life in a sharp, intelligent and philosophical manner. Anything to get Michael McIntyre of my television. Season’s greetings :-0


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