Fringe interview: Fern Brady – ‘If I can get through it without crying in a café, that would be good’

This article is from 2015

Fringe interview: Fern Brady

credit: Jessica McDermott

Set for her full Fringe debut, the Scottish stand-up tells us how meditation classes have helped her show

Comedians get into the stand-up game for many reasons. Perhaps they weren’t loved enough as a child, or they had too much love as a child or they simply get a vast thrill from hearing a laugh at the end of a joke they’ve told. Not many can say that their fate as a live comic was written in the stars and predicted by a palmist. Admittedly, rising Scottish comic star Fern Brady isn’t quite saying this either, but many years ago when her mother visited a fortune-teller, she was convinced that forces outwith our control had spoken.

‘They said to her “we don’t normally mention children but your daughter is definitely going to do an unusual job for a woman,’ recalls Brady. ‘For years I thought I was going to be a firefighter and I was really gutted about not doing that. All the way through uni I thought I was going to be a journalist, but that wasn’t really an unusual job for a woman. So, now my mum is like: “ah, all that the psychic predicted has come true”.’

Though Brady has had articles printed in The Guardian and went on Channel 4 News to discuss last year’s independence referendum (she spent most of the time trying to make Krishnan Guru-Murthy laugh), her journalism career was set aside for comedy, inspired mainly by her first sight of Brendon Burns back in 2006. ‘It made me angry because he was just shouting and if it’s just all about shouting, well I can do that. Then I kept telling people I wanted to go into comedy and they all just looked at me funny.’

The naysayers have been proved well and truly wrong, and having earned a reputation on the circuit as a forthright comic with a commanding stage presence, Brady is now set for her full Fringe debut with the no-holds barred title of People Are Idiots. Then again, what’s in a name?

‘When I initially asked The Stand to do a show, I said it would be about me being a psychopath and having a personality disorder, but that’s not what it’s ended up being about. In February this year I made a sitcom pilot [Radges] with the BBC and the stress of it really got to me and I went a bit daft. After that I went to anger management counselling and mediation classes which helped a bit but when I told my boyfriend about the positive thoughts I’d been having, he said that they were terrible and not positive at all. Some of the show is about that. My agent said I should start keeping a diary and use it, and that’s ended up working quite well.’

That BBC pilot is part of the channel’s Comedy Feeds series with Brady keeping her fingers crossed that Radges can make it to a full series. Set in a ‘pupil referral unit in Scotland’ it stars Sarah Hadland (Stevie from Miranda) as the facility’s leader. Due to be shown on the iPlayer from 13 July, it should kick off a good summer for Brady, though she’s keeping her excitement about a long August in Edinburgh to a manageable level. ‘I have low expectations for the Fringe and don’t put a lot of money into it like other people. I’m a bit wary of saying anything and then, come September, I’ve had the worst Fringe ever. If I can get through it without crying in a café, that would be good.”

Fern Brady: People Are Idiots, The Stand 4, York Place, 0131 558 7272, 7–30 Aug (not 17), 12.10pm, £8 (£7). Preview 6 Aug, £7 (£6).

Fern Brady: People Are Idiots

  • 4 stars

Fern's here to let you know that most people aren't that smart, so you better lower your expectations. You'll recognise her from the telly – think 8 out of 10 Cats, Stewart Lee's Alternative Comedy Experience and Radges.