wed 22/05/2024

Fern Brady, Netflix Special review - sex, relationships and death | reviews, news & interviews

Fern Brady, Netflix Special review - sex, relationships and death

Fern Brady, Netflix Special review - sex, relationships and death

Cynicism laced with playfulness

Fern Brady's career has been given a boost by her appearance on Taskmaster and an acclaimed memoirNetflix

An appearance on Taskmaster and the publication of her acclaimed memoir Strong Female Character have helped propel Fern Brady into the comedy big time – and now comes the accolade of her first Netflix special, Autistic Bikini Queen, which was recorded in Bristol last year.

She fesses up at the top of the show that, despite its title, this hour is not exclusively about her autism, which she was diagnosed with in her mid-thirties. She does, though, update us on how the condition affects her and which, she quickly informs us, is not a superpower – there's a withering putdown of that notion – but that finally knowing what makes her tick is a relief as much as anything else (as explored in greater detail in her book). She also, in a very neat gag that's both funny and self-deflating, references Greta Thunberg who also has autism and is trying to solve the climate crisis, whereas Brady just “talks about cock”.

Thus despatched, Brady can get on with the other themes she wants to explore over the hour – her Catholic upbringing in sectarian Scotland, sex, relationships and death. She brings an avowedly cynical view to them all, particularly her exploration of marriage.

She has always avoided it, she says, until a health scare made her re-evaluate her relationship with her boyfriend, and the revelation leads to a strong section on her recent attempt at organising their civil partnership. Not a wedding, she insists, as that would involve a big do at which she would have to declare vows – or, as she so memorably puts it, "a sex tape of my emotions".

Along the way Brady talks about the difference between dog and cat people – mostly that cat people are bombarded with godawful cat-themed gifts – embarrassing herself with the workmen in her house, kink shaming and the time she met Colonal Gaddafi's nephew. 

Then she wheels back to her autism and does a little bit of audience interaction which doesn't really add much to proceedings, and in truth some observations – about not liking London, the perils of ageing – can be surprisingly hack for such a talented gag writer.

But under Phoebe Bourke's direction this is a strong outing with some very smart lines in which Brady's trademark cynicism is threaded through with a newly playful persona.

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