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Comedy Review: Fern Brady

Jenna Luxon reviews Fern Brady's latest stand-up show covering all things from primary school antics to amateur Scottish pornography

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Image Credit: Matt Crockett

A side-effect of regularly receiving press tickets for arts events in town, is learning how to judge which of your friends is going to be most easily dragged along with you, and once this has been assessed learning how to then pitch the event to them. A free ticket to a performance is generally a strong enough pull in itself but occasionally you have to go in for the hard sell.

When I was offered two press tickets to see Fern Brady’s stand-up show in the Basement in town, I pitched it to my friend as ‘if it’s good then it will be funny and if it’s bad then it will probably be funny too’. And whilst this certainly confirms, if there was ever any doubt, that advertising is not the career path for me, it did the job and she kindly agreed to go with me.

I had never gone to see a professional stand-up comedy show before and sat in the audience waiting for it to begin, I felt nervous. I am not a mother and so I have not yet ever had to watch a child of mine perform in an infant’s school nativity but I’d imagine the feeling might be similar. I had the kind of second-hand anxiety that made me rehearse in my head the supportive smiles and sympathetic laughs I’d give if the whole performance fell apart in front of me.

What this says about my psyche, I’m not sure. Perhaps that I’m an overthinker or that my summer job working in a nursery has scarred me more than I thought. But in reality, of course none of these things happened and I had no reason to worry.

There were no support acts on the night and so when the performance began it was Fern who walked straight out on to the stage with no prior introduction. And it didn’t take long for me to feel completely confident in her performance. My worries about how she would get on soon dispersed as she carried the audience effortlessly.

I hadn’t noted whether there was an age restriction on the performance but I’m now guessing that we’re looking at an 18+ as the topics discussed in the hour-long show stretched from the fairly mundane to the hyper-sexual. Basing most of her comedy in her own life experiences, Brady spoke about her experiences as a bisexual woman, as someone who suffers with Asperger’s and the time she spent in a mental health support unit as a teen.

She also spoke at length about her time in primary school being taught for a year by a raving drunk. As well as offering her detailed thoughts on the pros and cons of amateur Scottish pornography and dishing out some valuable advice to those in the audience who may at any point in their lives consider making a sex tape (the take home message seemed to be to lock the pets up before beginning).

Lacking any kind of inhibition, Brady spent an hour calling it exactly as she saw it. And walking out of the Basement at the end of the performance my friend and I laughed again, retelling each other our favourite moments.

Dispersed in amongst the performance there had been a subtle commentary on what it is like to be a female comic, talking about the creepy fans and comments about her appearance and sexuality. It was this topic that we eventually landed on talking about on the way home. For all the progress we see in the arts for women, comedy is still a hugely gendered industry and Fern’s piece-meal approach of mentioning this throughout the set was hugely effective in leaving us laughing at the time and thinking once we left.

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