Fern Brady: Suffer, Fools!

Comedy, Comedy festival
3 out of 5 stars
Fern Brady
Photograph: Supplied

Veering from absurd to heartfelt to ridiculous, this somewhat uneven show delivers plenty of laughs

'Brave', 'edgy' and 'raw' are clichés of comedy reviews, but I'm not sure what other words to use for a show whose climax is comedian Fern Brady telling jokes about how she narrowly escaped being murdered by a violently abusive ex-boyfriend. During the course of her show Brady manages to bring the audience along with her to that point, and the laughs are half horrified, half belly laughs as she describes her last thoughts while being smothered with a pillow.

It's everything great comedy should be – heart-rending, discomfiting, hilarious, a little stressful. But she uses the bit to segue into a very strange fake funeral for herself, replete with tired church paedophilia jokes and very broad humour. That is the essence of Suffer, Fools! – some genuine moments of real connection and laugh-out-loud humour, but plenty of filler and jokes that don't quite land.

The tone is a bit all over the shop – is this edgy, personal comedy that's a bit too real? Is it middle-of-the-road safe humour that's been done before but brings pleased chuckles? It's both, and it veers between the two too often to make for a completely solid show. She has the chops, though, and with a bit of refinement Suffer, Foolscould go from the ridiculous to the sublime. 

Need more laughs? See our ultimate guide to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

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