Fern Brady chats to Joe Dolan about the people’s champion, Egg Boy, provocative material and being yourself on stage.
It’s a time of political turmoil here in Aus, but as Scottish stand-up Fern Brady tours the country, she’s turning to the hero of the moment.
“Fuck, I love Egg Boy!” she gleefully asserts. “Do you think he’ll come and meet me? Everyone loves him! He’s so good. I did see, though, some people were not about it. Like, I’ve got nothing personal against Adam Hills, I’m sure he’s really lovely, but he didn’t like it. I don’t get that; I think you have to love it as a comedian – egging someone is like the purest form of comedy. It’s like trolling someone in real life, it’s lovely.”
Brady’s second sojourn to our shores comes in the form of her new show, Power & Chaos. “I’m being the same as I normally am,” she says. “It’s quite dark material, I guess. I’m aware that not all Aussies are into that, but the cool thing has been that I’ve been getting the right kinds of audience because people had bothered to YouTube me. It’s only been in the last year or so that I’ve had audiences come see me who have already ‘seen me’, you know? So, people are more readily on board, which is great.
“I get a lot more younger women now, in their 20s, which is very cool. For ages, it was just bearded guys who love wrestling. They’re still there! But the best shows have been the ones where more women have been coming along. One of my favourite things that has started happening has been that thing of, when you do a piece of material and you think, ‘This is just me that does this and I’m weird,’ and then you get messages from women saying, ‘Oh my God, I never thought I’d see another woman with the same opinion as me!’ I mean, I guess that’s what you want to do in comedy. It’s the best way of connecting with people’s experiences and making people feel less alone about certain things. It’s just amazing to think you’re a weirdo and then to have so many people connect with it.”
While the comic has become known for her razor-sharp delivery and a “nothing sacred” approach to the craft, she admits there is a certain sense of honesty to what she does, and it took a while to get there. “Being a girl in comedy, it took me ages just to get the confidence to be on stage, never mind hammering my points home.
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“I think I come off more aggressive and confident on stage than I actually am. But there’s a difference between feeling confident in how you’re talking, and being able to pause long enough to calmly explain what you want to say. A lot of times I’ll seem aggressive on stage because I’m nervous. I really feel like I am most myself on stage, and it’s made me even more myself off stage. I don’t want there to be any real difference between who I am on stage and off stage, the only real difference is that I’m a bit shyer in real life.”
"I really feel like I am most myself on stage."
Along with the breaking down of an onstage persona, Brady has also taken on a self-confidence in her own work, backing her occasionally controversial subject matter with pride. “Sometimes you can double down on a topic and that’ll make it work better" she reflects.
“And I think a bad audience makes you edit more, and a good audience makes you write more. I had a really nice audience on my last night in Adelaide and I was talking about Leaving Neverland. In other shows, I had just brought it up in passing and people were unsure about it and almost defending him. But when I doubled down, people started laughing and going with it. If you’re absolutely sure about your controversial opinion, it’s worth pushing through, but if you show any kind of hesitation, the audience will go at that, and that’s when it dies.”