Belfast Telegraph

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

By David Young

Inside the gigantic blue and yellow auditorium the crowd seethed with excitement as the countdown began to their comedy hero's appearance on the west Belfast stage.

It was standing room only as the warm up acts - local funnyman Paddy McDonnell and Glaswegian Billy Kirkwood - psyched up the festival crowd with a ferciously scatological barrage of jokes and anecdotes entirely unsuitable for publication in a family newspaper.

But the audience loved it, roaring their appreciation with every expletive they could hear through the raucous, distorted sound system.

The VIP section was packed: only in the part of the marquee specially reserved for people with disabilities was there plenty of space.

The bar was doing a roaring trade, though a boo went through the auditorium when it was announced that it would be closed during Frankie Boyle's set.

Security was tight, with bags being searched on the way into the marquee and special trestle tables set aside to hold items confiscated from ticketholders, to be returned after the show.

There had been no sign of a planned protest outside the event, and there was none inside either. The only placards to be seen were advertising shuttle buses to aftershow booze-ups in local pubs.

The air of anticipation intensified as nine o'clock approached.

Paddy McDonnell came on stage to give the audience a last chance to nip out for a fag, get a drink or get a comfort break.

The next time we saw him he was there to bring on the main event. To a huge chorus of cheers and whistle, Boyle casually sauntered onto the stage to kick off the show the house been waiting for.

Immediately, he acknowledged the controversy that had cast a long shadow over the weeks leading up to his appearance in Belfast. "I can't begin to tell you how sorry I am to have divided your normally united city," he said to laughter and cheers.

And with that, he launched into his stage act, packed with material so filthy it made his warm up acts look like Sunday school teachers.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph