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Ruby Wax calls for Frankie Boyle to be 'burnt at the stake' over comments about Down's Syndrome

Published 11/08/2015

Frankie Boyle during the 2015 Feile in Belfast, Northern Ireland
Pic Kevin Scott / Presseye
Frankie Boyle during the 2015 Feile in Belfast, Northern Ireland Pic Kevin Scott / Presseye

Ruby Wax has called for controversial comedian Frankie Boyle to be "burnt at the stake" for his comments about children with Down's Syndrome.

The American comedian, writer and mental health campaigner's comments come after there were calls for the Scottish comedian's booking at the Feile an Phobail in Belfast on Friday night to be cancelled.

The West Belfast Festival was strongly criticised after this newspaper highlighted how the 'people's festival' had chosen a grossly offensive comedian to headline one of its biggest events.

Festival organisers had come under intense pressure to cancel Boyle's booking from local campaigners offended by jokes the comedian had made in 2010 about Down's Syndrome children.

Despite organisers apologising for booking the comic as a headline act - they insisted the gig would go ahead.

Ruby Wax, who also promotes understanding of the brain and campaigns for greater mental health awareness and destigmatization, told the Stephen Nolan show offending someone in comedy is the same offending someone in real life.

She said: "It is the same as someone offending you in real life, what's the difference?

"I don't know if you are coming close to the fact that I talk about people with mental illness. First of all, if you are Jewish you can make jokes about Jews, if you are black you can make jokes about black people.

"I have mental illness I could do it. If this guy is laughing at Down's Syndrome he is not considering the agony of the parent who has to do it.

"If he's got Downs Syndrome take the p*** as much as you want.

"What he's doing is savage and perpetuating looking at them and us. He should be burnt at the stake actually for that one, forget cancelling the show."

She continued: "There are people, we went to the Colosseum to watch people being eaten by lions and those people would probably like his show.

"That's part of again, the human condition. there is tribalism, there is competition, there is bigotry, but hopefully at this point in civilisation we can kind of recognise it, we are carrying that ammo but we don't have to feed into ti.

"Sometimes I do want to murder somebody, luckily I've another part of the brain which says don't go there.

"But there will be people who are salacious, they wouldn't mind watching an accident."

However when challenged on her 'quite strong criticism'  Ruby pulled back slightly.

She added: "He shouldn't be burnt at the stake, just singed slightly, just a light simmer. I have an instinct of when you are stepping over the line and I'll pull back pretty quickly when I can hear an audience reaction."

Further reading:

How Feile tried to keep Belfast Telegraph out of Frankie Boyle gig

Frankie Boyle at Feile an Phobail: The only space left in the marquee was in the area reserved for disabled audience members

Frankie Boyle insults disabled and laughs at rape, but could he summon up the courage to mock the IRA? Of course not

Frankie Boyle unloads his vulgar repertoire to an audience of thousands, despite the outcry

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