Belfast Telegraph

Frank's genius was touching Belfast's unique funny bone

By Gail Walker

Much has been written and spoken about Frank Carson since he died last week from cancer and, fittingly, not all of it simply sad.

It's common with 'observational' or satirical comics to look in their 'work' for a message belonging to them alone.

The more personal their subject matter, the more public their targets, the cleverer and more 'relevant' they are.

Frank Carson was of a tradition, we are told, where such analysis was inappropriate. He told jokes. As he said himself, it wasn't really the jokes that counted but 'the way I tell 'em'.

But that isn't the whole truth. His humour derived from his home city - that peculiarly skewed vision which is Belfast's take on life. So many of his jokes reflected that take, mirrored its anarchic, irreverent, black humour and completed the effect with the rhythms of Belfast's inner city delivery. Recently, at the live TV announcement of Belfast boxer Martin Rogan's bout with Tyson Fury in the Odyssey in April, Rogan climbed into a ring to join Fury. Asked if he had a prediction for the fight, Rogan declared only Tyson made predictions and then asked the priceless question, 'Tyson, what round will I knock you out in?' Even the big Mancunian enjoyed the joke.

Frank Carson would have recognised that quip because it had all the daring of so many of his own. But Frank literally embodied our city's risky humour-mongering. He generated jokes relentlessly like a machine for making people laugh and did so during a period when English people found very little to laugh at in an accent more associated with violence.

Frank joined the small band of Belfast's champions who kept the battered genius of our home place to the fore. He will be returning home this weekend to a hero's farewell - once again, every possible divide will be crossed as ordinary people flock to acknowledge the life of a Belfast boy with fondness, gratitude and not a little envy.

God bless you, Frank. Did you hear the one about the Irish Catholic who joined the Paras?

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