Benedict Cumberbatch wears his sunglasses on set, while Martin Freeman tries to stay warm.
TV review: The Boyle Variety Performance
Frankie Boyle - Image. Channel 4
Controversial comic Frankie Boyle compered an entertainment extravaganza at a London theatre as a part of Channel 4's Funny Fortnight. He was at his abrasive best, but was it his last TV performance?
Watching Frankie grill football thug and philosophy copy-paster Joey Barton was brilliant. "Are you scared you might be re-incarnated as yourself?" Genius.
The American stand-ups were slow and slightly disappointing. Maybe something was lost in translation?
Frankie Boyle is Marmite, but not just because some people love him and Daily Mail readers hate him. On closer inspection there are many more layers to this well-trodden comparison.
Like the famous salty condiment, the controversial Glaswegian stand-up is dark, bitter and has less chance of breaking America than Matt Cardle.
"Viewers should know exactly where they stand with him"
Comedy is probably the most subjective medium around anyway, so technically Channel 4 have something doubly divisive on their hands.
Basically Boyle is Marmite².
Yet his notoriety is such, viewers should know exactly where they stand with him by now and even after a fresh batch of rape and race jokes it'll probably be a quiet morning at Ofcom.
This wasn't like the time a drunk Jeremy Clarkson stumbled into The One Show studio and ambushed us with his strike-breaking tactics - Boyle comes with more warnings than a box of cigarettes these days.
Anyway, who watches a programme knowing they'll be offended? Exactly. Controversial content aside, Boyle's TV career is currently uncertain.
For the last couple of weeks he's been hinting that this comedy extravaganza could be his final television performance. But if it was his on-screen farewell, he went out on a high.
Bigging up Frankie Boyle
Boyle may be cruel, coarse and shameless, but he definitely still has the wit to make you laugh, even when you know you probably shouldn't.
His imagery is simultaneously terrible and wonderful, yet describing a merry-go-round as a "sushi restaurant for paedophiles" and synchronised swimming as "like watching someone drown through a kaleidoscope" was ingenious.
He's definitely funny so whether you like him or not is a matter of taste. Suffice to say, you should probably never watch his shows with your gran in the room.
However, the support acts on The Boyle Variety Performance were underwhelming; far too much variety and not enough Boyle.
An hour with him would probably have been better, but you can understand why Channel 4 decided to use his cultdom as a vehicle to introduce some new acts. Whether this tactic worked is another matter entirely.
Rob Delaney was introduced as "the funniest man on Twitter", but he might want to save a bit of material for his live shows because his long-winded fart skit was a bit dull, especially when compared to Boyle's rapid-fire barrage of punchlines.
"He managed to run Boyle pretty close"
Tom Stade's Romeo and Juliet-themed ramblings were also pretty forgettable and Rubberbandits might struggle to transcend YouTube.
Nick 'Battersea Strangler' Helm was slightly better and raised a chuckle, but his section felt like a victory for voluminous sweary style over substance.
He managed to run Boyle pretty close in the physical props stakes though - his naked belly looked nearly as ridiculous as the Scottish stand-up's Jesus-beard. Canadian comic Kathryn Ryan was also decent value.
However, what the other acts inadvertently ended up doing was demonstrating that if you like your comedy near-the-knuckle, Frankie Boyle is in a league of his own.
He may have dragged Channel 4 into a series of publicity scrapes over the years, yet you sense a relationship between a boundary-breaking broadcaster and the country's most iconic alternative comic is perfect. The channel's comedy bosses will certainly be hoping that he hangs around for a few more years to come.
- Verdict: If you like your comedy tasteless and often cruel, Frankie is still the man.
TV quotes of the week: The Boyle Variety Performance
"John Terry has a rapist's face." - That, ladies and gentlemen, is typical Frankie Boyle.
"What have Las Vegas and Glasgow got in common? They're the only two cities where you can pay for sex with chips." - What can you say to that?
"Sleeping with a woman after she's had a baby is like a dying man's handshake." - Comedy very close to the knuckle.
"Sleeping with a woman who's had a cesarean is like having sex with a shark attack victim." - I don't think that will go down well with women...
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