Frankie Boyle apparently made fun of the parents of children with Downs as being old and out of touch. Surely this a comedic dig at parents rather than the disabled child?
He made fun of the way people with Downs speak. Is this any different from comedians using generic accents to contextualise humour, for instance Michael McIntyre using pigeon English as an interpretation of Robert Mugabe on an episode of Mock The week, the programme that made Frankie Boyle's name?
He made references to people with Downs dying early, which isn't necessarily true but he has made similar jokes about the life expectancy of people from his home city, Glasgow.
He made jokes about people with Downs haircuts. Now over the years I have worked with several people with Downs Syndrome and each and everyone of them has commented on my lack of hair and I have shared a joke with them on their hair in good natured fun. Now the context may be different but my interactions their could be construed as either me mocking them and being abusive, or sharing humour in a two way communication to develop and maintain a therapeutic relationship. The context is different, true, as Mr Boyle is basically performing a monologue but then people aren't paying to watch me on stage talk with a dsabled person.
As a parent myself, I fully understand Mrs Smith's feelings towards his routine that referred to something affecting her child, and I may have felt the same way and felt the need to defend my child, however I have to take issue with a further comment she made in her interview. and I quote;
"We had obviously heard him making fun of other people, but quite often his humour appears to be clever humour or making a point about something.
"OK, he can be cutting, but he will often be using his humour to make a point, whereas the type of jokes he was making about people with Down's syndrome I don't see there was any point being made."
The first paragraph gives me reason to believe she has laughed at his jokes aimed at the Scottish, old people, royalty etc, but its not okay when its something that affects her and her family. In the second paragraph she refers to the nature of Frankie Boyle's performances and his cutting humour making a point or being clever. I have to say I thought it was funny but not particularly clever or thought provoking when he made a joke (again on Mock The Week) about the Queen being so old her vagina is haunted. Taking her own words into account I find it difficult to accept her taking the moral high ground.
It was unfortunate that Frankie Boyle picked up on Mr and Mrs Smith's discomfort about the routine when he thought they were talking and texting during his performance, and followed it up and putting himself and Mr and Mrs Smith in an embarrassing situation. Mrs Smith continued;
"He then went on to say that it was the most excruciating moment of his career but then tried to claw the humour back by saying we had paid to come and see him and what should we expect?"
This would indicate to me that he acknowledged that he had put himself and members of his audience in an embarrassing position, and of course he tried to pull the humour back, he is a professional comedian its what he is paid to do.
While I appreciate that Mrs Smith tried not to draw attention to herself during the performance, the fact that she has since seen fit to go to the press about it for what I see as an unfortunate incident again doesn't really sit right with me.
I will sign off with one more comment regarding this incident. All of us working with disabled people work tirelessly for an equal society, Frankie Boyle pokes fun at everybody in society, if he pokes fun at everybody but disabled people, is he treating them equally?