Comedians can sometimes manifest as a raw nerve, desperate not to shield themselves from slings and arrows, but to erupt in glorious rage at the injustices and ridiculousness of the world. Fern Brady, Male Comedienne, is one such loud, misfit of a Catholic girl (non-practising, of course) with a proud past career as a stripper and a healthy disdain for middle-class reviewers looking for the good, dutiful ’political bit’ of a stand-up routine. Mistaken for a man in supermarkets and the tabloids, Male Comedienne is all about exposing Brady’s idiosyncratic life and insecurities, and then sticking two fingers up at the world if it can’t deal with it.
Brady is a natural, full-throttle, passionate comedienne
With a self-proclaimed ‘aggressive stage persona’ and a voice like a disappointed Scottish sailor, Brady is by no means here to pussy-foot around. She calls out the hypocrisy she’s encountered it in life, and her comedic delivery hits all the right notes to be both a fountain of rage and an inclusive entertainer, engaging with the audience in a sympathetic deluge of throaty banter. All that falls beneath her gaze that she finds to be ridiculous is shredded, including, but not limited to, herself: from anecdote to faintly surreal hypothetical, Brady’s act is well-oiled and properly structured to make best use of both audience recognition and incredulity at the more extreme ends of her experiences, including various sexual misadventures and bodily oddities, not to mention her Catholic upbringing, and its bathetic absurdities. Sprinkled in between are some fantastic turns of phrase and unexpected linguistic gems, including the insult ‘time thief’ and a rather bawdy pun about ‘lips’. With a default emotional reaction set to: ‘angry’, and an analytical approach to life set at: satirise, Brady is a natural, full-throttle, passionate comedienne. However, a fluid, no-holds-barred delivery masks sometimes fairly conventional and well-trodden comedic material, focused mainly on personal inadequacies, common to many a contemporary, 21st century stand-up.
It could be my sassenach ears but it seems to me Fern Brady has a touch of Frankie Boyle about her in terms of tone. Irreverent, disdainful of social convention and looking closely at uncomfortable truths, she doesn't mess about, going right for the comedic jugular. Incredulous at the hypocrisy of real life, apparently unable and unwilling to fit into it, Male Comedienne makes for an extremely entertaining look at religion, growing up, and both inherent male and female bigotry. And, of course, she must parody the traditional big finale, and rather than going out with a bang, goes with a slap.