Well, 2017 has come and it has gone. In some ways it wasn’t too bad a year. There were no nuclear annihilations. Mother Nature, though furious in 2017, has given us a bit more time. And the global economy, even in the era of Trump, is in some ways growing (the rich are getting richer, as they always do, which is why stock markets are breaking record after record, and the poor are getting poorer, as they always do, which is why global debt hit an all-time high of over $233 trillion). But not everyone saw it like that.
Here is cartoonist Tom Tomorrow with his review of 2017…
And here we have Time magazine symbolising 2017 with this caricature of Trump with his hair on fire…
In a rather scathing and brilliant article about some of the main characters populating the news, the Guardian columnist Stuart Jeffries says 2017 was the year we reached “peak arsehole”. Jeffries goes on to say:
What this implies is that 2017 is the year of the asshole. And a brief survey of the self-serving, overwhelmingly patriarchal, sometimes sexually exploitative and otherwise loathsome public stances taken by the year’s most prominent jerks – among them Harvey Weinstein, Donald Trump, Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Kevin Spacey – suggests this to be the case. – Stuart Jeffries
A more detailed and hilarious review of 2017 was provided by Andy Zaltzman, again in the Guardian. In the article, How To Laugh At The Year That Was, Zaltzman said:
From Trump to Brexit, 2017 has been both a gift and a curse for comedians…As the first year in history in which the most powerful person in the world has been an internet troll with access to a Twitter account, 2017 has been even more newsically unrelenting than its predecessor, role model and inspiration, 2016…Satire, therefore, has had a busy year. – Andy Zaltzman
And here we have cartoonist Mr Fish on the troublesome cross over from 2017 to 2018…
Whatever people think of 2017, one thing is for sure. It was a big year for comedy. In fact, 2017 was a monumental year for stand-up comedy, with the “comedy bubble” showing no signs of bursting any time soon. Here are just a few examples: Dave Chappelle was given $60 million by Netflix for 3 stand up specials, comedy show Saturday Night Live had it highest ratings in decades, Larry David and his show Curb Your Enthusiasm were back, Tiffany Haddish burst on to the scene, once former comedy giant Louis CK burst his bubble through no fault but his own, and those stand-up comedians not caught up in sexual harassment allegations became the moral voice for many of us, especially in the States with late night chat show hosts like Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel, Trevor Noah, John Oliver, Samantha Bee, Jim Jeffries, Seth Meyers, James Corden, Jordan Klepper, and Conan O’Brien.
Add to this a huge number of stand-up specials, including gigs from Jerry Seinfeld, Sarah Silverman, and Netflix specials from Muslim comedians Hasan Minhaj (Homecoming King) and Maz Jobrani (Immigrant), to name just a few. This glut was fuelled mainly by Netflix releasing a new hour-long stand-up special every week throughout the year. HBO, Comedy Central, Showtime and other American networks also continued to release new specials throughout 2017. Because there were so many of these specials some journalists found it difficult to choose a year-end list of the best. One such journalist was Garrett Martin who, writing in Paste magazine, said:
There are more people doing comedy in more venues and through more media outlets than ever before…in the past it was pretty easy to watch every major special that aired; in 2017, that would require a real commitment…Last year our year-end list had 10 stand-up specials; this year we had to cut it down just to get to 25. All of them are worth watching if you’re a fan of stand-up, and illustrate how wide-ranging and diverse this kind of entertainment has become. – Garrett Martin
But which one was the best? Well, according to Brian Logan of the Guardian, Frankie Boyle’s show Prometheus Volume 1 (performed at the EICC in Edinburgh) was the best. My take on this remarkable show can be found here. And this was Logan’s gleaming year end review:
For dark times, do we need dark comedy? Maybe, maybe not, but if you put a gun to my head (very much the apt figure of speech), I’d have to cite Frankie Boyle’s Prometheus Volume 1 as the funniest comedy show I saw this year. I tried to resist it. I listened to the angel at my shoulder, reminding me how much I enjoyed fun-lovers such as Spencer Jones and mild-mannered wags like Phil Wang. But in comedy as in music, sometimes the devil gets the best tunes. And this year, in his familiar guise as a beardie Glaswegian with middle-aged spread and a husk for a heart, Boyle had some crackers.
Depending on what you’re looking for, a lot and a little has changed since the shows with which Boyle began his standup career. He still aims to appal as much as amuse. If you think there are subjects from which comedy should shrink (sexual assault, to cite an obvious example), this wasn’t the show for you. But whereas shock and horror were once the means and the end of Boyle’s shtick, and were cheaply spent on snide gags about celebrities, now all the brutal quips about Tories, slaughtered Arabs and succubus Windsors are there in the service of a radical worldview. Radically cynical, maybe. Radically morbid. But radical nonetheless.
His comedy probably isn’t going to save us, of course. But at least, as the waters finally close over our benighted civilisation, Boyle’s cackling barbs ringing in our ears, we won’t be able to say we weren’t warned. In the meantime, well, the jokes are just so funny: pithily expressed, baroque of imagination, each one landing like a sharp jab at whatever nerve you’ve left unprotected. In a year when many of us felt like grabbing strangers by the lapels and screaming, “What’s happening to us?!”, Boyle’s comedy came closest to distilling that feeling into joke form.
– Brian Logan, 17 Dec 2017, Guardian, from the article The Top 10 Comedy Shows Of 2017
When Boyle was given the task to do a year end show he said:
I’m so delighted to be doing this show as that little period between Christmas and New Year is something that I’ve always wanted to ruin for everybody. – Frankie Boyle
A little later, in a teaser clip advertising the show, Boyle described 2017 thusly:
2017. A year of contrasts. Some of it was terrible, as was all the rest of it. So not much of a contrast really. Join me and my guests as we look back on a year of contrasts. – Frankie Boyle
So who better to review the year 2017 than one of the best and darkest comedians currently doing the rounds, the always original Frankie Boyle. As usual I have chosen my favourite quotes from the show, transcribed below. And please be warned, some of the language may be a little offensive, but I hope that does not detract from you enjoying these quotes. Also, the quotes are from Frankie Boyle unless otherwise stated. Enjoy!
NB I have blogged about Boyle’s New World Order shows before, but this particular one is a year-end review.
Theresa May looks crushed, doesn’t she? Her body language is amazing. I didn’t realise it was possible to limp with both legs.
It’s been a year of sexual assault allegations. Harvey Weinstein checked himself into rehab on a ranch. I think the last thing this world needs is Harvey Weinstein learning how to use a lasso. “Harvey! Harvey! That’s not how you mount a horse!”
Kevin Spacey really went for it, didn’t he? Imagine at this point in history, being adjudged such a sex predator that you’re not allowed to play the President of the United States.
It amazes me, really, that Donald Trump hasn’t been assassinated. Especially when you consider quite a lot of his security are concentrating on stopping Melania from making a break for it.
Trump’s loved by the Klu Klux Klan and by evangelical Christians. Which is strange because he’s the perfect argument both against white supremacy and for abortion.
We had Brexit, led by the least among us, Boris Johnson, a sort of malevolent baked Alaska, and David Davis, a man who seems to suffer from the same lack of imagination as his parents.
This year Britain was the number three exporter of aid to Yemen. There’s a famine in the Yemen. And at the same time, the number two seller of arms to Saudi Arabia, who are causing the famine in Yemen. That’s like shooting someone in the face, then spooning porridge into the cavity.
Tonight I’ll be making a proposition that sums up my view of the year, and that proposition is…2017 is the year no-one will look back on fondly because we’ll all be dead.
This year, one figure dominated the news more than any other…Donald Trump. He may have to shit by Cesarean, but he’s still the most powerful man in the world. This year, he announced US withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement, championed tax cuts for billionaires, and supported an alleged pedophile as a Republican candidate for the Senate. Trump is like a fat bee bashing around inside a greenhouse, repeatedly failing to understand why the world doesn’t work as he thought it did. Like any good authoritarian, a lot of his hatreds are simply projection. He has targeted North Korea for threatening its neighbour to the south, promising to expand its nuclear capability, and assassinating people abroad. Despite the fact this was pretty much Trump’s election manifesto.
I don’t know if you know, but Trump’s brother died from alcoholism, so Trump avoids alcohol because his brother was an alcoholic. If only his brother had died from being a massive cunt.
Sara Pascoe: Trump doesn’t worry me anymore. You know that thing about how once you see how sausages are made, you don’t want to eat sausages? Politically, he’s showing us how the sausages are made. Politics has always been poisonous and toxic and awful, and they’ve always had nuclear buttons and they’ve always been pigs. Now you can see it. Now we all know.
Mona Chalabi: But the thing is, it’s not affecting his popularity.
Sara Pascoe: People like sausages. That’s the problem.
Do people worry that Trump a Russian mole? I mean, it would certainly explain why he can’t speak English.
Miles Jupp: I find him amazing to watch. Just that level of sort of rage. I think a lot of it’s to do with his diet, probably. He only eats fast-food. He’s basically full all the time of salt and sugar. So any behaviour you see is a direct symptom of that. Like a child that’s had too much jelly he gets very, very high and then he has these sort of miserable crashes. And then he presumably consumes no roughage…whatsoever, which is why most of his real fury is reserved for when he’s on the lavatory. Tweeting. He’s tweeting there. He’s angry, he’s lonely. I shouldn’t imagine he’s the sort of person that has books in his loo. The only thing he’s got to do is read about himself on the internet and then get angry and then let it all out.
Katherine Ryan: Trump’s a dangerous man. If you tell him he can’t do something, he’ll do it. I think men like Trump should be told, you know, you can’t make a woman your age climax. You can’t do it. And then they’ll just spend their whole lives trying. “You can’t tell me I can’t make a woman my own age climax.” And then they’ll have to spend time around women with educations and opinions. And then it might solve things a little.
Trump moves like a sort of walrus on a Segway or something.
Black Americans are near the top of Trump’s list of adversaries. Somewhere in-between Muslims and common decency. But Trump’s nemesis this year has been North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
North Korea have developed nuclear warheads. But basically, at the moment, their delivery system is £3 million worth of stamps. And they’re trying to say that, oh, eventually, they’re going to be able to hit LA which means we’ll lose, what, James Corden and half-a-million rapists?
Many of us thought that Donald Trump would walk away with the title of the Worst Person Of The Year, but we were forgetting about one man…Piers Morgan.
Meanwhile, the news in Britain was dominated by Brexit. In March, Article 50 was triggered, leading to fractious Brexit negotiations between the UK and the rest of the EU. The prospect of Brexit has already managed to get immigration down and exports up…by making the pound worthless. At the moment, Britain is in a strange position, where we seem to be sanguine about foreigners owning our infrastructure, we just don’t want them picking our fruit.
They are becoming increasingly divorced from the general public, the Tories, I think. The average Cabinet Minister, the only reason that he keeps a photo of his kid in his wallet is so that he doesn’t pick up the wrong one at the end of term.
Jeremy Corbyn is often criticised for his scruffy appearance, so he was a surprising choice for the cover of GQ magazine…I’ve always kind of hated GQ. It seems to me to be just a watch catalogue. Do you know that thing, those guys that are like, “I used to just be a prick, now I’m a prick in four different time zones. I’ve gone from being a prick to a highly-muggable prick.”
There’s a theme throughout the general election of a growing disconnect between the Conservative Party and the public. They’re almost going in opposite directions. One of the new figures is Jacob Rees-Mogg, a sort of living Monopoly logo. A composite drawn from the nightmares of 18th-century mill workers…I think we sort of underestimate him, because subconsciously, we all think, any minute now, he’s about to be arrested by Poirot.
In October, Hollywood and the entertainment industry were rocked by multiple allegations of sexual harassment against film producer Harvey Weinstein. This led to a cascade of people coming forward with more accusations against big stars like Kevin Spacey, Louis CK, and Dustin Hoffman. Time magazine named the victims who’d spoken out about sexual misconduct, the Silence Breakers, as their people of the year. And then ruined it by making Donald Trump runner-up, like he was chasing them.
Katherine Ryan: When the Bill Cosby stuff happened, the reason he looked so confused going into the courtroom is his whole attitude was, “Well, no, all my friends were raping people, I don’t really understand. Back then, it was just frowned upon, like smoking weed. But now you’ve transported me into this whole world where it’s unacceptable.” It’s like society’s moving more quickly than these men are.
Sara Pascoe: At the beginning of Weinstein’s apology speech it literally says, “It was different back then,” that rules have changed. As if someone else has moved the goalposts. And again, he’s accused of rape at the most serious end of the assaults and things he’s been accused of. Literally saying to everyone else, “You’ve changed the rules.” Which is different from saying, I’ve done something utterly wrong, or lots of things wrong.
Mona Chalabi: I also think the thing that’s really scary is the first allegation against Weinstein was 37 years ago. The timeline it’s taken for these things to pick up speed is really depressing.
Frankie Boyle: The thing is, I worry though, will it change? This might all just go away because the institutions don’t seem to be changing.
Mona Chalabi: I think one of the things that’s frustrated me is that it’s just been high-profile, celebrity men. And we know that most reports of sexual harassment and stuff, they’re in things like retail, accommodation. So, like, hotel workers, those women are an in incredibly vulnerable positions, and things like manufacturing. But, in three out of four of those cases, the women are threatened with retaliation if they keep on moving it forward. Like, seven out of ten cases just never, ever go reported. So we’re only seeing the very, very tip of the iceberg here.
Frankie Boyle: What I don’t see in it though is, where is the idea of justice in this? So, these people haven’t been charged with anything, there’s not real justice for the victims. Basically, at the moment, we’re allowing them to set the agenda, where they go, “I’m going away for two weeks to a hotel.” That’s not how crime works. You know? “I’m going to try and not do any more armed robberies, I’ve got a week in at the Hilton, hopefully going to turn over a new leaf.”
Sara Pascoe: I think that, especially, with Harvey Weinstein, I think it isn’t a rehab thing, I think the crimes he’s been accused of are very, very serious. And Kevin Spacey as well.
Frankie Boyle: Are they on the same ranch? Surround this fucking ranch. Wait until Woody Allen pops round for a game of ping-pong and surround the thing like fucking Waco.
Miles Jupp: It’s basically like a safe house. I mean…it’s a place for perverts to hang out together.
Katherine Ryan: I’m blown away by how many men are outraged that they should have to mediate their behaviour so that the few women in their office can feel safe. Safe! It’s just safe, we don’t want to feel powerful, we don’t want to abuse you. “What, and now I’ve got to stop hugging them? What, the way I look at women’s got to change?” If the way you LOOK at women has got to change, what sexual eyes are you giving them?
I stayed across from Trump Tower for a wee bit and I’d forgotten just how blasé Americans are about guns, because he was president by then, it’s just surrounded by snipers and soldiers and stuff. And this woman walked up to a group of, like, ten soldiers and went, “Is there a Starbucks up there?” The guy gestured with a sniper rifle, “Yeah, it’s up there.”
So, as the year drew to a close, and everybody got ready for Christmas, high-street baking chain Greggs released an advent calendar. It featured this profoundly misguided image of three wise men surrounding baby Jesus, who was replaced with a sausage roll. See, I think they’ve gone too offensive there. Because how they going to top that next year? It’s going to have to be a sausage roll flying into the second tower. Like, Princess Diana’s car being forced off the road by a steak bake.