So here he is; big, bad Frankie Boyle mocking the weak. The Terror of Twitter is ripping into the front row like Susan Boyle at a deep-fried Mars Bar buffet.
‘Is that yer girlfriend? Why don’t you just get on and kill her so her parents can grieve properly?’
‘You with the trendy little hat thing - what’s that all about? Fashion . . . or caaaaancer?’
So far, so straightforward. This is Frankie’s schtick and if you’re uncomfortable with it, then you really shouldn’t be here.
It’s not like you didn’t know what to expect.
And therein lies the problem.
When people come expecting to be shocked, is it really possible to hit them right between the eyes?
Are you surprised to learn that Frankie Boyle laid into Katie Price, John Terry and Boris Johnson last night? You’re probably about as surprised to hear that the jokes are unprintable.
That’s not to say they weren’t good.
A routine about a mythical Michael Jackson Children's Hospital was inspired and hilarious.
But, come on, Michael Jackson? Paedophile? How hard can it have been to come up with that angle?
Boyle rightly says that offence is subjective and that he is offended by banality. But he then undermines his point by laying into Peter Kay and Michael McIntyre.
Surely shooting such ducks in a barrel is a bit, well, banal.
Wouldn’t it have been more honest to say what he really thinks about his Mock the Week chums?
Or even admit that while support act Craig Campbell may be a great mate, a great comic he is not.
There were empty seats for the first of this three-night run at the Civic, entitled Last Days of Sodom, the press had to pay for their tickets (as if!) and fans were warned – in writing – that anyone leaving the auditorium may not be allowed back in.
Frankie then rattled through a 75-minute set, prowling the stage like a comedy zombie running through well-worn material one more time.
Towards the end, the desperate – and desperately unfunny – hecklers could contain themselves no more, craving put-downs like internet trolls round a celebrity train wreck.
Boyle duly obliged with comebacks that were typically crude, but not particularly good.
Still, before anyone tut-tuts too much, don’t people with a warped sense of humour have as much right to a good night out as people who find Russell Howard funny?
But the problem is, the audience are in on it; this is what they have paid to see.
The more ‘shocking’ the better – they’re braced and ready for impact as Boyle carpetbombs predictable subjects like the royal family, Whitney Houston and The X Factor.
There’s not much rapier wit and the shield of self loathing covers only a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
There’s nothing unpredictable either, no element of danger to keep you on the edge of your seat. If he says something outrageous – so what?
It’s just par for the course.
And that’s where Frankie Boyle finds himself now.
It’s like a rollercoaster that scared you to death the first time round, so much that you had to run round and get straight back on.
But each time, the thrill subsides, the excitement dulls and the realisation grows that this thing is not going to kill you after all.
As someone once said, it’s just a ride.
Review by Keith Harrison