News: Fern Brady, Power And Chaos, BBC Scotland/BBC One/iPlayer

News: Fern Brady, Power And Chaos, BBC

I've got to be honest. While it's great to see comedians back on stage on television in the current Funny Festival Live on BBC Two I'm not sure if it's the best showcase for stand-up. It reminds me of ancient pre-Live at the Apollo BBC stand-up shows filmed in small venues, such as Paramount City, that never quite captured the atmosphere of a real live gig. But hey, these are desperate times, I'll take what I can get.

On the other hand there is an alternative. Fern Brady's 2019 Edinburgh show, Power and Chaos, was filmed in front of a full house in Glasgow just before the pandemic. It's a real audience sitting next to each other, not wearing masks and not even aware of the phrase "social distancing". Basically it feels like another world.

And even if it wasn't a chance to see a packed house laughing their heads off it is also worth watching to see Brady in full flow. The Bathgate comedian's show was one of the buzz shows of the Edinburgh Fringe that year and was Brady's best show yet. She has always been a fierce, compelling presence onstage but this time there was also more focus to her acidic rage.

Subjects under Brady scrutiny include the DUP, her sexuality, her interest in amateur pornography and her mental-health issues. The show is both painfully honest and peppered with laughs.

Other themes include feminism, existential despair and, sadly more topical then ever at this very moment, creepy men, particularly men who abuse women in the street. She has a typically confrontational plan to have her revenge on wolf-whistlers, hoping to become “the patron saint of cat-called women”.

Brady is a commanding presence, with a cool, assured style that quickly wins over the audience. Sadly this filmed version doesn't feature the cuddly animal finale that we saw in the original Edinburgh version. Brady explained why on Twitter: "Anyone who was at tour/Melbourne/Edinburgh shows will note that the ending is not in this version as trying to get clearance for that fucking hamster video/Kronos Quartet thing was a nightmare." Don't worry, this still packs plenty of punch even if it doesn't pack plenty of rodents.

Fern Brady, Power And Chaos, Thursday, March 11, 10.30pm, BBC Scotland then also Friday, March 12,  11.35pm, BBC One. And on iPlayer now.



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