Comedian Fern Brady on confessing all, her favourite “serial killer” and a life full of shame.
How is the podcast going?
Good! We’ve done a batch of episodes -– but that was mainly so we had something to do during lockdown. I’m pals with an Irish comedian called Alison Spittle and both of us do quite dark comedy. I’m pretty blunt and direct but Alison is quite charming and sweet. She says dark things but always in an upbeat, cheerful voice. The reason we’re pals is we tell each other really bleak stories and then laugh about them. We’ve wanted to do a podcast since talking about it last year in Edinburgh.
Your podcast is about confessions – how does it work?
It’s us having what we consider a normal chat, but it’s structured one. Basically we have a topic and each of us has to tell a story based on that topic – usually us being humiliated in some way. We did stories about losing our virginity then drug experiences, then drinking. That sort of normal thing! Then we have a guest on telling an embarrassing story, then we have voice notes from people who send them in. That’s the best bit – we have lots of normal people but my favourite was the old Canadian guy who sounded like a serial killer sending a message.
How has gigging been during Covid?
I did a gig just before lockdown, it was a filmed show. There was no way to cancel, it just had to go ahead. I looked out to the audience and it was like the cast of Cocoon. I think young people were isolating at that stage, before lockdown happened. I had 100 no-shows so by the second recording of the day I wanted to kill myself. The old people were like, ‘this isn’t that bad’.
You trained to be a journalist. Why did you give it up?
I did multiple unpaid work experiences at papers. I wanted to write big features or comment pieces but the easiest way in was to start with news reporting. Then I found out the best way to write for a massive newspaper in London would be to have my dad be the editor of that massive newspaper. I was gigging lots at the time. Journalism is something you have to pour your passion into.
How do you choose topics for the podcast?
I fill my shows with things I’ve felt bad about. But as a Scottish Catholic my life is filled with shame anyway. Generally, making people laugh is a formula – tragedy plus time equals comedy – so we’re following that sort of idea. Scottish and Irish stand-up follows a storytelling style. Me and Alison do that so it’s a lot of stories we haven’t done in stand up but want to talk about.
Stand-up comedian Fern Brady’s podcast Wheel Of Misfortune is available on BBC Sounds
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