Frankie Boyle Interview

Nihilistic Argumental and Mock the Week Star Frankie Boyle loves to stir things up a bit. We caught up with the shock Jock and found him in surprisingly thoughtful mood.

Frankie Boyle

Do you find it strange that your dark comedy is a huge hit?

Yeah, it is pretty weird. But, clearly, people are more broad-minded than they're given credit for.

So what inspired you to become a comedian?

The local library. There was nothing to do in the part of Glasgow I came from so I'd go to the library and get comedy records out. That was a big thing for me. All the Monty Python albums, all the Goon Show albums. And I started reading PG Wodehouse so the biggest influences on me have been English, which is quite weird.

Why weird?

Because I think my humour has a very Scottish voice - Scottish humour is a negative, dark thing. Billy Connolly is really unusual - and he's always got a mixed reception in Scotland because of that. He talks about how great and brilliant stuff is. That's not something you hear a lot in Scotland, you know what I mean?

So your dark gags are in the blood?

Well, I've come up through that sort of attitude but I'd like to be doing more political material. It's hard to do loads of that in the live show at the moment because people come to see me with certain expectations. I've got jokes that don't really fit at the moment about Israel and Palestine and weapons being transported through Britain and that kind of stuff. I think that's more the direction for the next tour.

Mock the Week is much sharper than other topical panel shows - you want to take things further?

Absolutely. It's hard to talk about certain things in that show. We did a show when the main news story was Iraq but we lead on John Prescott retiring and you think - Jesus, it really looks like we're going out of our way to talk about the news. In a lot of these shows - I wouldn't say Mock the Week is the worst offender - they have big stories they don't particularly want you to talk about. Also, Mock The Week goes out in the summer and sod all happens in the summer. We literally start just as parliament closes and then stop as the party conference season begins. This summer we talked about the Olympics for five weeks. We talked about it before the coverage started and carried on after the coverage had finished.

Is that frustrating?

I've always had a political consciousness - they don't use that phrase any more do they? I remember as a kid seeing Ghandi and the bit when he gets thrown off the train... the fact that stuff like that went on really angered me. I must have been 10. I was pretty much a socialist growing up. I joined the labour party when I was 16 but it disillusioned me pretty quickly so I drifted out within a year. I'm anti party politics, but I've always been quite a political person.

Didn't you start your career at The Stand?

Yes, I went down and said "can I do a spot?" and the owner Tommy said "no". I promised to bring 12 mates down to watch and he went "alright then". In 1996 I won a comedy award, which put me on a national student tour. My early stuff was darker than what I do now.

Darker than jokes like "Camilla looks like Diana if she'd survived the crash?"

Yes. It was more about death and murder. I'm trying to think if there were any light bits in it… not really. It was quite Scottish.

How do you decide what to keep and what to drop?

It's when you mess about with material that some really interesting things happen or you finally get the courage to do that new line you weren't sure about. You don't always have perfect judgement - it's a bit trial and error. Like last night I stuck a line on the end of a joke on the DVD about Macy Gray being spit roasted by two guys - I had this idea, a line that says - Macy Gray spit roasted? No wonder she tries to walk away and then stumbles. I did it just through boredom and it went down a storm.

There's a lot of teasing the audience too. Guess that changes every night?

I try to keep the jokes coming fast with no break. The audience chat is really the pause for me. The thing about being on the road for three months is that the chats start to get quite bleak. I just went round the whole gig the other night telling people to kill themselves. You work in what? Kill yourself.

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