Fern Brady’s 2016 offering, “Male Comedienne” is full of irony. Her delivery is, for the most part tough and aggressive, with a touch of neuroses; offering tales of mistaken gender, and an exclusion from the female comedian’s Edinburgh fringe brunch, amongst others. The thing is, despite her frustration and confrontational style, and although she informs us that she doesn't really have any close female friends; what is revealed in this hour is an honest, straight talking young woman. A positive female role model who would sooner point out her ‘flaws’ and share her insecurities than play on her attractive exterior.
This “real woman” talks about her height, big hands and wide set eyes in a way that most would only share with their closest friends. It's a bold choice which enables her not only to construct some superb set pieces, but also to befriend her audience in spite of her previous confessions. Whether the Twitter insults she references regarding her appearance are true or not, I don't know, but it is fair to say Brady tackles the negative criticism womankind receives with real guts, embracing the sense that “we’re in it together”, whilst still presenting herself as abrasive and isolated. Clever!
Brady addresses some hard-hitting subjects, from time working as a stripper, to issues with mental health, and the approach is gut-wrenchingly honest; but what she is so good at is giving us just enough time to digest the ‘punchline’ of the anecdote (which usually placed her in the centre of a mortifying outcome) before punctuating that pain with a dismissive air. What emerges over the course of the hour is a strong young lady, one who has fought through a difficult youth and is finding her feet amongst the industry's best. Tales of her upbringing, early sexual experiences and awkward talks with her parents provide the opportunity to show her deep understanding of how easily we can miscommunicate with even those closest to us, and Brady paints these heart-breaking scenarios with a magnificently light brush allowing us to do the thinking later and enjoy and laugh at the present.
It is easy to see why Fern Brady is not merely just one of a selection of current ‘ballsy’ females on the circuit. At no stage has she preached at us, yet we understand the power of woman completely; furthermore she takes a massive risk on her ending, all the while knowing exactly how far to push us. That’s what is great about Brady’s stand-up, she never underestimates her audience. We are not patronised, we are confronted and ultimately, when you've been made to think a bit along the way, you leave knowing something was achieved.
Fern Brady, Male Comedienne is at The Stand Comedy Club 2 at 12.10pm until August 28th.