Fern Brady: Male Comedienne
An astounding hour from an act with identity issues and a past worth mining
Like pretty much every stand-up comedian on the planet, Fern Brady has an unquenchable need to receive the acceptance of strangers. But most of all, she really wants other females to like her. Why, Brady wonders, does she attract a certain audience that is predominantly male and bearded? The underlying conclusion hinted at during the opening section of her outstanding second Fringe hour is that they perhaps recognise themselves in her. After all, she has the hands of a builder, has been called 'sir' in a shop and even had her picture published in a tabloid to accompany a story about a man (her boyfriend) who had written a study on the living wage. But what truly hurts is that even after a successful 2015 debut, she has yet to receive an invite to the annual brunch for female Fringe comedians.
But if there's any justice at all, no one will be excluded from experiencing the comedy of Fern Brady. The pace rarely lets up during Male Comedienne as she takes a swipe at her Catholic upbringing while finding a personal example to understand Theresa May's enthusiasm for nuclear weapons. Brady's honesty is brutal as she recalls her days working in a lap club and convincingly argues that stripping is morally on a par with other occupations deemed socially more acceptable.
All of her material here merges forthright opinions with one brilliant line after another, but none of it can prepare you for her finale which is as audacious as it is hilarious. It would be a sin to give the whole thing away, but let's just say that you won't be able to hear Sia's 'Breathe Me' again without thinking about a certain genre of online videos. Her dad might struggle getting his head round the title of her show but he can be proud that his girl has produced an astounding work.
The Stand 2, until 28 Aug (not 15), 12.10pm, £9 (£8).