★★★ FERN BRADY, SOHO THEATRE Young Scottish stand-up with desert-dry delivery
Fern Brady is a young Scot with plenty of provocative opinions – on politics, society and relationships – with a delivery that can only be described as dry as a desert. It means that some pieces of information – as well as a few gags – take some time to pass through the “Is she joking?” filter.
In Suffer, Fools she likes to confound audiences with two pieces of information she relates in fairly quick succession; she studied Arabic and Islamic history at Edinburgh University, and she put herself through college by performing at the city's “titty bars”.
Brady neatly fillets those men who still question a woman's place in comedy
She displays her skill at the former, with some quotes form the Koran, but tells us she was rubbish at the latter – not being, as she says, interested in the sexy talk with which she was expected to regale the punters. She puts that down to her self-diagnosed presence on the Asperger's spectrum and therefore having difficulty expressing herself, but I suspect it had more to do with thinking her clients were the fools of the show's title.
In describing an encounter with a Belfast taxi driver, Brady neatly fillets those men who still question a woman's place in comedy, which she uses to discuss gender politics more broadly, and abortion specifically. There is a nicely raw edge to much of what she says, and she happily flirts with shocking the audience without alienating them. She moves on to discussing more personal matters – her current relationship with a man much shorter than her 5ft 10in frame; it's a “tally-smally thing”, she says.
At 31, Brady has packed a lot in – the stripping pales by comparison with the job she had cooking breakfast for a bunch of sex offenders at a halfway house, and she has survived a murder attempt by an ex-boyfriend, stories she tells here as if describing her latest hair appointment – yet her dark comedy sometimes sounds a little undercooked, and needs more killer punchlines.
But Brady has undeniable talent, and is one to watch.