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Fern Brady: Autistic Bikini Queen (2024) | Transcript

The irreverent Scottish comedian tackles big themes like death, decline and the disappointments of middle age in her stand-up special filmed in Bristol.
Fern Brady: Autistic Bikini Queen (2024)

[Fern] Please welcome to the stage Fern Brady!

[cheering]

[whistling]

Hello! Welcome to my show! [laughs] Autistic Bikini Queen. Probably the worst title for a stand-up show I’ve ever come up with, uh, especially given it attracts an audience that tend to take things literally. I’m very sorry. Almost none of the show is about autism. I am, uh, a… real autistic though. I got my certificate for Best Autistic Ever, A*, during the lockdown. It’s been really hard for me, uh, ever since I started telling people I’ve got it, ’cause there’s not a lot of representation of hot women within the autistic community, so I figured, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” It’s just me and Greta Thunberg, representin’. She solves the climate crisis. I continue to do meaningless jokes about come. We can’t all be heroes. Just briefly, ’cause like I said, the show isn’t about autism, but just briefly, the way it works for me is my version of highly efficient communication seems to be a lot of people’s version of very rude indeed. And that’s even when I’m tryin’ to be… That’s when I’m tryin’ to be a good person. That’s when I’m tryin’ to help people out in my life. Like, I was tryin’ to comfort my mum one time. She was cryin’ ’cause my gran had just been taken into hospital with dementia. Hey, it happens. Now, I don’t like touchin’ or huggin’ my mother in any way whatsoever. Why would I? I’m not datin’ the woman. Disgusting!

[laughter]

Hah! I’m not gonna touch my mum! So, as a compromise, I put my hand on the woman’s shoulder at arm’s length. It’s kinda the same thing. And I said, “Mum, things will only get worse from here.”

[laughter and scattered applause]

Who’s clappin’ that? [laughs] She didn’t laugh and clap like you guys. In fact, she cried harder. [chuckles] I know now what I’m supposed to do. ‘Cause whenever I make a social faux pas, I read up on what you’re supposed to do. What you’re supposed to do is tell a comfortin’ little lie, aren’t ya? Some sort of phony platitude. Somethin’ along the lines of, “Don’t worry, Mum.” “There’s always hope. Rainbows in the sky.” “Who knows? You coulda sat Gran by a window on a sunny day.” “She’ll enjoy the rays of sun upon her face while her brain deteriorates to slime.” [laughing] Oh no! I don’t like the feelin’ of lyin’. I can lie. It’s just that any time I attempt it, I always make the lie implausibly big. It’s always somethin’ along the lines of, “Don’t worry, Mum.” “Gran’s gonna be appearin’ on The Chase a week from now.” [laughter] “Pack up her wee nightie.” “Wheel her out the hospital. It’s gonna be A-OK.” [chuckles] Oh dear. Neurotypical people, by the way, you guys have a… what I would describe as a pathological tendency to try and smooth things over at any cost. So sometimes, when I say to a neurotypical person I’m autistic, they’ll say back to me, “Don’t worry, Fern. It’s a superpower.” And I’m like, “Is it?” “Is it really a superpower?” “Would it have been as good a film if Superman, instead of having superhuman strength and being able to fly around the world at a moment’s notice, instead monologued at you about the 1960s depressive poet Sylvia Plath, with no ability to register your disinterest in any way whatsoever?” [scornfully] Superpower. Another important thing I found out about my identity… ‘Cause I always get described as “Scottish comedian Fern Brady,” and it always grates on me because Brady is a very Irish surname. Uh, I knew that my family were quite Irish. Uh, I really… Like, Scottish comedians, a lot of Scottish people I meet, they’re into Burns Night, they love St. Andrew’s, kilts, haggis. I really can only connect with you if you, too, are a Catholic. If you had a pedophile sing a cappella at you every Sunday…

[chants] ♪ In the unity Of the Holy Spirit

♪ Almighty Father ♪

[chuckles] …you’re my kind of people. So I found out… I did a DNA test, right? One of those online DNA tests. Knew I was a bit Irish. 98.3% Irish!

[woman] Same!

Never lived in Ireland. Yes, high-five! Neither of my parents lived in Ireland. This is a testimony to the power of sectarianism in Scotland. It’s just Catholics inbreedin’ with Catholics again and again and again. Faces gettin’ hairier with each generation. I’ve never been happier not to be British. I was delighted not to be British. I’m only 1.7% British, and to be honest, that’s from when a homeless guy spat in my eye when I first moved to London. Been goin’ to the gym a lot. Uh, I’ve been tryin’ to go to the gym a lot, ’cause people take pictures of me when I’m performin’, and I want to die when I see them. And, uh, I got banned from my local gym in London after I tried to fight a man who told me how to deadlift correctly. So… [chuckles] For real! I feel like wearin’ a T-shirt that says, “No matter what you see me doing with a barbell, do not approach me, even if I’m doin’ this.”

[laughter]

“Don’t talk to me.” I don’t know how they’re gonna get that on a T-shirt, but you know what I mean. I have to save up my gym visits for when I go on tour to Scotland, where the gyms, they’re so luxurious, I want to move home. Know why? They’re just empty. Just… leaves blowin’ through them. There is no Scottish man will dare tell me how to squat with form in a Scottish gym. The only men in Scottish gyms look like they’ve been referred there by their GPs after a heart attack or a health crisis. It’s fantastic. ‘Cause I’m very health-conscious. People are always surprised, uh, when I say this. I’m a very health-conscious person, and I’m gettin’ that way more so, uh, ’cause I’m old, and this is a young woman’s game. “I’m so old. I’m so depressed to be doin’ this show, and I’m so old.”

“I’m 36. I know that’s…”

[man laughs] Yeah, is that an old man laughin’ at that? [laughter] I could just see your little… little gray face goin’, “That’s no age at all!” “You look like a fetus to me!” How dare you? [chuckles] I’m sorry, I know it’s not too old, but 36, it is one of those ages where you have to start acceptin’, as a woman, certain things aren’t gonna happen for you in life. Your life isn’t gonna look exactly the way you always pictured it to look. ‘Cause I really always pictured myself to be, and I mean this sincerely, the type of person who attends… Do you know those masked, invite-only orgies for middle-class people? [laughter] Eyes Wide Shut scenario? I know you know what they are. I truly thought I was gonna have attended one of them by this point in my life. It’s not that I’m not gonna attend an orgy now I’m in my mid to late thirties. More that the quality of my orgy invite starts to decline pretty rapidly from here on in, you know? It’s not gonna be a masked ball now. It’s gonna be a grimy swingers’ event that I see advertised on Gumtree in… somewhere hellish and godforsaken, like Swindon. [gasping and laughter] I’ve never been to Swindon. I just know that the train gets better when they all get off. [laughs]

[applause]

No. “I don’t feel frightened now!” [laughs] I’m gonna have to go to this orgy in Swindon. Some chubby plumber’s gonna serve me bacon Frazzles, not… not from the bone china that I wish for, but from a polystyrene bowl. I’ll have to nosh him off. I’ll give him a gobble. I’ll do it gratefully, with my sagging, aged face sinking… sinking towards the grave. Death is comin’. The body knows it. That’s what hard about this age. Your face starts to get too baggy for your skull. More and more of my selfies have to be taken at this angle so my face can fall back into my ears, and I can see the real Fern once more. [laughs sadly] My breasts used to be fantastic. I’m sorry if that makes any of youse uncomfortable, uh, but they were crackin’, 24/7. Didn’t have to worry about what those guys were up to, ’cause they were just… And then, during lockdown, I believe they got depression, and like everythin’ else, they started to wither away towards the ground. And I had a thought that disturbed me, and I thought, “Hey, I’ve got money now.” “I could get a boob job.” Then another little voice went, “Nah.” “Let them rot under your clothes.”

[laughter]

“They’ve had their time in the spotlight.” “Now it’s my time to shine.” Edinburgh 2006. That was my boobs’ best time. I was a lap dancer back then. They couldn’t have wished for a better life. I used to feel bad saying I was a lap dancer to theatergoin’ crowds such as yourselves, but, look, guys, as the years trundle on and you look at what young women are doin’ on OnlyFans, or, I’ll be honest, Facebook holiday pictures, you know, me saying I was a stripper 15 years ago is startin’ to seem like telling you I was a flapper dancer in the 1920s. Pretty quaint, innit? [chuckles] I kinda always feel older people in the audience goin’, “Don’t worry. I’d still disown you if you were my daughter.” But at the same time, you can feel any Gen Zers in…

Any young people…

[woman] Whoo! Yeah! I’ll say “strip club” to you, and you’ll be like, “What is this quaint cabaret that you speak of?” And then you’ll make a porno on TikTok and fly off on a hoverboard into the night sky. I don’t know what these young people are up to. So, anyway, now my boobs are witherin’ away under my clothes like two wizened old ladies. That’s how I like to think of them. I like to think of them reminiscing to each other about the glory days in Scottish strip clubs. [chuckles] Like that old woman at the start of Titanic that’s just… lookin’ back over her life as a mad shagger. [laughter] [chuckles] They understand. That was the plot of Titanic. Had a great ride on a boat. He didn’t make it. [laughs] “Who cares, man? He was poor!” “Get off my wardrobe door, Jack!” [laughs] And that’s my titties, reminiscin’. Two old ladies. “Do you remember, Eileen, do you remember when men used to pay for a look at us?” “Oh yes, the glory days.” “We were up near Fern’s ears.” “Now we are sinking nearer her belly button, sinking closer towards the grave, one of us faster than the other, apparently.” “I’ll catch you up later, babes.” [chuckles] “Don’t be negative, Agnes.” “Remember when Colonel Gaddafi’s nephews offered us £40 for a private dance?” “Or people claiming to be from the Gaddafi family.” [laughs] Good times. [laughs] Hey, sometimes audiences think I’ve made that Gaddafi bit up just to put detail in the set, and it’s very offensive to me, ’cause I’m, like, I don’t know enough about Libyan politics to have made that up. How do you think I know who Gaddafi is? I met his nephews that night in Big Daddy O’s. [laughs] Big Daddy O’s, now a Mexican restaurant ’cause gentrification ruins everything for perverts. [chuckles] Anyway, now I’m in my twilight years, movin’ into the second half of my life, I’ve realized… I made a promise to myself that I’m gonna stop bein’ such a frightened little goose all the time. ‘Cause I get told that I seem confident onstage, but I’m a very shy person offstage, and I thought, “It’s time to stop.” Uh, I love walkin’ around at night after my gigs. I like to try and get my steps in. But if you’re a woman who likes walkin’ at night, I feel like every evenin’ walk is tainted by thoughts of your own murder. It really gets in the way of the de-stressin’ part. I feel like you guys are like, “No, we don’t think like that all the time.” “We just are normal.” Okay, uh, number one… There’s two reasons I feel frightened when I’m walkin’ around at night. Uh, number one, I have a father who is unnaturally preoccupied with thoughts of my murder. Uh… I know that parents worry a lot, but hear me out. Any time I phone my dad on a walk, the first thing he says to me is… [yells] “Don’t get murdered!”

And I’m like…

[laughter] “Dream bigger, Dad.” [chuckles] Like… Uh, women in the audience, if you get nervous walkin’ around at night, here’s a fact I comfort myself with. I always try to comfort Dad with it. He’s never comforted by it. Statistically, you’re so much more likely to be killed by the guy you came to the gig with tonight, so if anything… get your wee coat and shoes on, get out the door and get those steps in. It’s the healthier option in more ways than one. Secondly, uh, my dad, uh has been this way since I was five. On my first day of school, he put a whistle attached to the side of my little schoolbag, and he went, “Listen, hen.” “Any man tries to take you away today, blow your wee whistle.” “Blow it hard.” Now, in addition to this creating the most traumatic first day of school memory ever, constantly hypervigilant, waiting to get bundled into the back of a van, was that not like sendin’ a soldier into a battlefield armed with a spoon? What was I gonna do? Blow the pedos away with my merry little tune? They’ve already overcome so many taboos in becoming child kidnappers. I feel like me going, “Whoo! Whoo!” It’s not gonna achieve very much. Instead, it just means I’m an anxious adult. And the other reason that I’m frightened… I think this is a good reason to be frightened, is I live in a place called London. Uh, I’ve given it… I mean, right, I’ve given it ten years. It’s not growin’ on me. I think, after ten years, it’s safe to say you either like people being horrible cunts or you don’t.

[laughter]

Like, it’s just… It doesn’t grow on you. [chuckles] It is awful! It’s nothing like the London I saw on the TV growing up. I really blame… not the good people of London. You know, the comedy scene’s been great to me there. I blame, uh, the Richard Curtis universe of films, which depicts this version of middle-class Englishness that I’ve yet to see represented in real life. I grew up watching films that were like, [posh accent] “My name’s Will. I work in a charming little bookshop in Notting Hill.” “We’re all friends on this street.” [as self] “Oh, looks great, Will! I love books.” “But they batter me for readin’ them up here in Scotland.” “Let me join you and your conspicuously white group of friends.” I arrived in London. No one was pals. Will and the bookshop was nowhere to be seen. Instead, I live in a part of London called, uh, Lewisham, which is devastation everywhere. People arguin’ with pita breads in the local Tesco. Me thinking, “Will they have more friends than me?” [laughs] A man who chases me through the local council car park so often, I don’t even change facial expression when I run. Uh… A Muppets Christmas Carol would be more representative of the Dickensian hell that is London 2023 than the film Love Actually, know what I’m sayin’? Now, again, not to get onto London. We just need better representations of it in film, and here’s how I know this. One of my friends, he went on holiday from Scotland to New York, and when he came back, I said, “How was New York?” And he went, “Oh, it was amazing.” “The first thing I did when I got there was I got one of those yellow taxis, and the taxi driver was a bastard, just like in the films!” “You know how they are in the films. “Fuhgeddaboudit! Get me a coffee!” [laughter] They’re bastards just like in the films about New York, and that was when I had the idea, “We need better, more accurate romantic comedies set in London.” We need to see a couple fallin’ in love on the top of the 185 night bus to Lewisham. [gasps] “What’s that, Henry? Did you say you want to build a life with me?” “Only I couldn’t hear you over the sound of the man saying he’s a killing machine at the back of the bus.” Then the man chases them, and they flee, gigglin’ and holdin’ hands. Then they kiss in front of a bin that’s on fire, and little girls growin’ up in Scotland point to the TV and say, “That’s where I want to live when I grow up.” [giggling] “London.” Anyway, I can’t just blame London for bein’ frightened all the time, and I can’t move home. I’ve got this dream that, at some point, I’m gonna get to move back home. But you become too London-ized. You become just too much of a horrible bastard to ever leave. This is how I realized I was too London-ized. I was eatin’ a big breakfast in a café in Glasgow, and an 85-year-old woman came up behind me, and she went, “That looks like a lovely breakfast.” And my immediate instinct was to huddle over it. “Get away!” “You can’t have my sausages or my resources!” So I just have to stay in London now. But I’m an anxious person when I’m on tour. You know, a lot of this job is travelin’ around on your own, stayin’ in hotels on your own, and I’m not very good at it. Like, I was on a train from Edinburgh to Glasgow, uh, and there were three very rowdy, very drunk Scottish men on this train. Something you should know about me, despite the strong accent, I’ve lived in England 13 years, so I’m now as frightened of drunk Scottish people as all of you. I was lookin’ over at these louts. We were the only one in the carriage, right? And I had noise-cancelin’ headphones on, but I was imaginin’ what they were saying about me. They were definitely saying, “Let’s kill this bitch as soon as we get off the train.” “Let’s do it for fun.” I was tremblin’. I eased my headphones off as we pulled into Glasgow, so I could find out what their plans were for me. Do you know what the ringleader was pointin’ and shoutin’? He was shoutin’, “All I want to know, boys, what’s in brown sauce?” “It’s…” “Nobody can tell you.” [chuckles] That was when I was like, “Number one, I think my anxiety’s gone too far.” “Number two, tamarind, innit?”

Uh…

[laughter] I get it in hotels as well. Like, I often check in to a hotel on a Friday, and I’ve got the whole weekend stretchin’ out in front of me alone, doing gigs, and very often, I’ll check in to a hotel, and I’m the only person there not on a stag do. Uh, I checked in to one recently, and there was, like, 50 of them, just men at their worst. No offense to men individually. But it’s very frightenin’ when youse are shoutin’, “Lads, lads, lads!” You’ve got that group mentality. Somethin’ in my wee woman’s brain just goes, “Oh no, no, no…” “Don’t like this. Gotta get away from the stags.” And often my nervousness’ll get so bad around stag parties that I can’t even face eatin’ my breakfast around them because they’re so frightenin’. I’ll come down to breakfast, and I’ll make a good go at it, and then I’ll end up just hyperfocusing on my hot bread goin’ round and round in the rotatin’ toaster of doom! Then I’ll think, “Do you know what? Leave it. Just leave the breakfast.” “I’m too intimidated by stag parties.” Then, just in the last year, I went, “Get a hold of yourself, Fern.” “How could you be intimidated by a stag party?” “At the end of the day, it’s a group of men.” “They’re carryin’ out this ritual.” “Yes, they’re drinking each other’s piss at the breakfast buffet.” “Yes, they’re wearin’ the Borat costume ten years too late.” “They’re doin’ it all because one of them loves Sarah.” [laughs] “He loves her so much, he’s gonna marry her.” “Because he genuinely believes their love will last forever.” [whispers] “That’s pathetic.” [laughter] How could I be intimidated by something as pathetic as that? Just a group of lads celebrating Darren’s love for Sarah. [spits] I can’t imagine gettin’ married anythin’ other than sarcastically or if Channel 4 paid me to do it for a twisted reality show. And this isn’t about me bein’ cynical, bitter about men. I’m amazin’ at going out with people. If anything, too good at goin’ out with people. I’ve been goin’ out with this guy for ages, like, ten, 11 years. Ages, right? And everyone we know is gettin’ married just now. Now, even though I’m 36, I think I’m 18, so I find this a bit dodgy. I’m always sayin’ to him, “What’s with all these wankers gettin’ married?” “What’s with all these people?” He’s like, “Do you mean our best friends?” “Yeah.” He always responds the same way. He says, “I’ve told you before.” “Generally, people get married because they want the opportunity to declare their love for one another in front of all their family and friends.” [laughs] He says that… I know, right? [laughter] I’m laughing, ’cause I would literally have to be on ecstasy to do something like that. Yes, why don’t I make a sex tape? [yells] But with my emotions! [laughter and applause] I’m not gonna declare my love in front of all my family and friends. Look, you guys, maybe you got married and you have family and friends that are nice, normal people that you feel safe bringin’ together with alcohol. I don’t have that. I’m not gonna declare my love in front of Julie, the random woman from Milton Keynes Dad married in 2014. [yells] I don’t even know Julie’s surname! And I have to shell out for her to have salmon or chicken and then send it back, ’cause that’s what Julie does. I can’t… I’m not gonna declare my love in front of my boyfriend’s, uh, uncle, who was in the IRA and is a total liability at family events. [laughter] So relieved you’ve heard of the IRA. They were quite big in the ’80s, eh? [chuckles] Oh, d’you know what’d be nice? I want the whole event to be presided over by this weird little guy that’s not even allowed a girlfriend and is statistically likely to be a sex offender. [yells] How romantic! [laughter] Here’s what I can’t get my head around. How do you get married a second time if you messed up your marriage the first time?

Dad? And…

[laughter] How do you get through the vows at the second weddin’ without just pissing yourself laughin’? [chuckles] How do you say it with any earnestness? “I promise to love, honor, and obey… LOL, this time, probs!” [laughter] And I… It’s… Honestly, it’s not that I’m not romantic. Uh, it’s when I love someone, I love them hard. I love them very intensely. But I don’t wanna declare my special, precious love for my boyfriend in front of a load of people. I think it would cheapen it. Because people fall in love for different reasons, don’t they? And sometimes people say why they fell in love at the wedding ceremony. I don’t know. People generally don’t invite me to their weddings.

I wonder why.

[laughter] Sometimes people say why they fell in love, and I don’t want everyone rolling their eyes at our reception when I say, “Oh, we fell in love after he vastly improved my credit ratin’ over a period of about three years.” [laughter and applause] “But I gotta say, I fell hard for him when he canceled his skiing holiday to get an abortion with me.” “A beautiful story!” “Disney are makin’ it into an animated film any day now.” “The Abortion Princess.” [laughs] Now, this is what I like about livin’ in England, is you can say “abortion,” and people don’t chase you out with, uh, pitchforks as they would in Scotland. In Scotland, you say “abortion,” they think Jesus is watchin’. In England, loads of middle-class people, people with money, you’re like, “Yeah, kill the babies!”

[man] Whoo!

[scattered applause] “Get your degree. Social mobility all the way.” [whispers] Love it. I don’t want youse to think that I’m not, you know… uh… that I’m against tradition. I’ve got a very traditional view of marriage, and I think it’s more traditional than most people, because I believe that marriage is about the merging of assets to form a financial power couple!

[woman] Whoo!

I saw you noddin’ there. [chuckles] [laughs loudly] That was what it was invented for. It was, uh, bringin’ farms together, bringin’ family power together, bringin’ money together. Love didn’t come into it, man. They just threw that in down the line to trick women into doin’ somethin’ that’s no good for them. Guys, it benefits you. We check your moles. It’s quite an unfair deal. We check the moles on your back. It doesn’t benefit women. The love part of marriage is a trick. Love is a delusion, as evidenced by the number of women who think other women are trying to steal their ugly boyfriends and husbands on a Saturday night. I’ll tell you something now. It’s never women that are goin’ out with male models that get attacks of sexual jealousy. No. It’s always ones with sea monsters. Absolute roasters. The second they’ve had a bottle of prosecco, “You stay away from my Tony!” [laughter] “No one wants Big Ugly Tony, babes.” Like, “I’m glad you’ve pair-bonded.” [chuckles] “But no one wants Big Ugly Tony, and by clingin’ on to him…” Like, sexual jealousy is such an undignified emotion. If you love someone, set them free. I’m always saying that to my boyfriend. “Go! Go! Leave! “Have an affair!” [laughs] Set them free. Don’t cling on to Big Ugly Tony. By doing so, you look like you’re cradlin’ a big dirty jobby.

And it’s not a good look.

[laughter] I was gonna get a civil partnership for my ten-year anniversary. You can do that now instead of gettin’ married. Uh, I was gonna get a civil partnership, uh, and I started fillin’ out the forms for it. You have to fill them out. They’re really borin’. You have to sorta be powered through it by romance and stuff. [sighing] So I was filling it out, thinking of romance and love, and then I got to the final page, and I just realized that I’d left my debit card up the stairs, and I just slammed the laptop shut. Fuck it. Love is powerful, but not as powerful as this Netflix documentary about Pamela Anderson. I am gonna get this civil partnership though. I’ve been meaning to get around to it, purely because, at the end of the day, I want what every other little girl wants, man. I want to transfer the right of my father to switch off my life-support machine over to my partner. [laughter] ‘Cause if I’m in a vegetative state, I trust that my boyfriend’s a pragmatic guy, and he’ll have the decency to turn my machine off or smother me with a pillow while the doctor’s out the room and serve a short-to-medium jail sentence after we launch a successful Guardian campaign.

[laughter]

My dad’s a hardcore Catholic. He’s against euthanasia. He’s made that clear. If anythin’ happens to me when I’m unmarried, you know what Dad’s gonna be doing, man. Wheeling me back and forth. Disneyland. To Lourdes. Back to Disneyland, back to Lourdes, forever and ever, while I try and blink out the message, “Let’s take this matter to the High Court.” [laughter] “No, no, our daughter’s still in there somewhere.” “Some days, we sit her by the window on a sunny day.” “She enjoys the rays of sun upon her face, as you can tell from her totally immobile expression.” I’ll be fumblin’ for my wee whistle with my mouth. “Whoooo!” Trying to blink the code for “Kill me now, Daddy!” [scattered laughter] Glad some of youse like death and decline. Really brings people together, don’t it? I’ve been thinking about death a lot because me and my dad, we’re always talkin’ about heaven and if heaven exists, and my dad thinks that when we die, we all become little cherubs with no bodies, just wings comin’ out our necks. It’s really good hearin’ a working-class Scotsman try and defend this crackpot theory. I don’t think that happens when we die. I’m not mental. I think when we die, what happens is we all become spirits, floatin’ around in the afterlife, waitin’ for psychic hotlines to contact us.

[laughter]

That’s what happens. I’ve contacted some of those psychics before. I went to a medium that talks to the dead. He was a very camp medium. He was like, “Is there anyone you wanna get in touch with on the other side?” And I said, “Yes. Uncle John.” “He was my favorite uncle. Died when I was a wee girl.” And this guy paused, like he was really gettin’ in touch with somethin’, and then he went, “He doesn’t really want to talk to you right now.” [laughs] [laughter] I’m already insecure about being unpopular in the world of the living. So to know that someone with nothing but eternity stretchin’ out in front of them still went, “Oh, no, I can’t talk to that bitch,” it really made me insecure. But death… death and decline, it really changes your views on things like love and marriage. ‘Cause I’m ideologically against marriage. That probably didn’t come across in the first part of the show. I’m quite a mild-mannered lady. It takes nothing to turn that view around. I was feeling ill at the end of last year, and my doctor… I had all these weird symptoms. My doctor sent me for an MRI scan of my head. That’s never good. He phoned me the same night of the MRI. That’s worse. He said, “Oh, this is unexpected, Ms. Brady.” “We’ve found a growth in your brain. You need to come in immediately.” I didn’t even listen to the rest of what the guy was sayin’. I just started howling crying. I was like, “I’m gonna die just as my career’s getting good, and I’ve wasted years of my life, years, screenshottin’ people I hate on Instagram to WhatsApp to my friends.” [laughs] “State of this cunt.” Send. [laughter] Oh, but it was a life well lived! [laughs] [laughter] I can tell how many of you have had the same… We’re all gonna have the same deathbed memories, aren’t we? All our happiest memories in life will just be of us lookin’ at our phone over the years, trying not to fall asleep at 3:00 a.m. “I can understand this bitch havin’ a birthday, but a birthday week?” And then… [laughter] …you drop the phone on your massive forehead. You like your archnemesis’ post with your massive face. [laughs]

[laughter]

You don’t even follow her! [chuckles] That’s it, that’s what catches me out every time. [laughs] Well, anyway, so I got this bad news off the doctor. I immediately walked up, cryin’… I walked through to the livin’ room to my boyfriend. I was like, “They think I’ve got brain cancer.” “Do you wanna get married?” “Do you wanna have the most heteronormative weddin’ ever?” “I want every degradation. I wanna wear white.” “I want Dad to walk me up the aisle, even though he’s a mental case.” “I want it all.” And I thought, “Well, that feminism didn’t last long.” [laughs] [laughter] And my boyfriend, who’s meant to be against marriage, too, he was like, “Yes, yes, I will.” He was cryin’. Quite poignant. Went to the doctor the next day. This doctor says, “Ah, good morning, Ms. Brady.” “We think what’s in your head is a small pituitary cyst.” “They’re very common. I phoned you last night to say it was a worrying growth ’cause if it was me, I would want to know.”

[laughter]

“That’s not… that’s not what you said last night, you shit-stirring bitch that thinks he’s in an episode of Casualty.” [laughter] Know what I mean? In these hard-pressed times for the NHS, what maniac phones you up, “Oh! Oh, you might have brain cancer.” “Sweet dreams”? [laughter] Fuckin’… So I had to leave his office. I’d already phoned my agent and been like, “Cancel the tour,” and everythin’. Went back to the house. My boyfriend was cookin’ the dinner. I said, “Listen, this is embarrassin’.” “I’m not dyin’.” [laughs] I don’t know what normal person says, “This is embarrassin’. I’m not dyin’.” Um, but I said, “They’re gonna do more tests. They’re not sure what it is.” “But the… the main point is, is we got engaged last night, right?” “We got engaged last night.” He didn’t even look up from stirrin’ his dinner. He went, “Pending diagnosis.” [laughter] So he’s only gonna marry me if I’m terminally ill, in case anyone missed that. Not even the first time this has come up. Not even the first time… I don’t care about gettin’ married. I honestly don’t care. But there was one time we were at our friends’ weddin’, and I was lookin’ at the food that they were havin’. They had one of those cakes made entirely out of cheese. It looked crackin’. So I said to him, “What do you think we’d have to eat on our weddin’ day?” He was like, “Whatever they’re putting in your feeding tube that afternoon at the hospital.”

[laughter]

It’s cold. It’s hard goin’ out with someone a long, long time, uh, sometimes. Like, we broke up about three times during the lockdown. Uh, we got back together ’cause I couldn’t face startin’ over again in my thirties. [groans] Love is powerful, but not as powerful as a five-year fixed-rate interest mortgage. Not in these times. I just couldn’t do it. I was takin’ to fit guys online. I was talkin’ to famous guys. I can’t tell you who. [laughs] But I thought, “Hey, it’s time to start over.” “Get a famous boyfriend.” “Do branded partnerships with him on Instagram.” “Get rid of that little prick.” [laughter] And then I just thought, “I can’t. I can’t start over.” I cannot be bothered with it. I know there’d be all the exciting first dates, all the thrilling first shags. But then there’s all the other firsts that come after it, and I cannot face it. I cannot face holdin’ in my farts again for 12 to 18 months until you’re quite sure the person’s in love with you. Then, inevitably, one sleepy Sunday morning, you’re spoonin’ and… phhhbbbth! “Do you still wanna build a life together, even though I farted on your balls?” [kisses] [laughter] Too much vulnerability, man. [laughs] I can’t face meetin’ someone’s mentally ill mother again and realizing why the guy is attracted to me!

[laughter]

[chuckles] It’s good hearing the laughs of mad women in the audience that are, “Ha, that’s me!” [giggles] And it’s quite nerve-wrackin’ to think of startin’ over when… I mean, I’ve been goin’ out with someone so long, datin’ apps weren’t even invented when I was last single. Uh, and I have such a high standard now when it comes to what I look for in a partner. Like, I go out with, uh, a proper person now, with a proper job. He’s not a male comedian. Ugh! [spits] High standards. In my early twenties, my standards were very low, and that made dating a lot of people very easy. Like, I remember a guy chattin’ me up outside a nightclub in Edinburgh when I was 21, and I said, “Listen, man, you don’t wanna get involved with the likes of me.” “I’m actually a stripper.” And he was like, “That’s okay. I’ve been to prison.” As if that’s the same thing! [laughter] It’s not the same thing, mate. [yells] One of us is an entrepreneur! You try spinning titties into gold. [laughs] But, you know, it was lovely gettin’ back after a breakup. You really appreciate the other person so much more. You get rid of all your bad habits. You go on date nights. You might even have some bad sexual habits. Not all the time, but maybe some of the time, if you’ve been going out a long time. You might rotate through the same two or three comfortable positions over and over again. Maybe ones where you lie on your side to avoid lookin’ in each other’s hate-filled faces. Thumb your pajama bottoms down a couple of inches. Charmlessly present one bum cheek. [laughs] Continue to gaze numbly at whatever screen is in front of your face. Screenshot another enemy. Then a little voice at the back of your head pipes up, “Can you mute the cat videos on YouTube, please?” “I’m trying to concentrate here.” [laughs] You thought, “Well, young me would never have thought someone would have to concentrate on shagging me.” [laughs] Then one of you’ll say, “Let’s jazz things up a bit.” “Let’s start talking to each other during sex.” This was his idea. I already talk rather a lot at work. He said to me, “Let’s pretend to be other people,” and he said this mid-coitus, right? And then… Still shaggin’ me, if you don’t know Latin. [chuckles]

[laughter]

Some intellectuals in, thankfully. …he went, “Who do you want to be?” And I just panicked, man. I was like, “Brooklyn Beckham?” [laughter] [scattered applause] I don’t know how sexy talk works. But what I do know is Brooklyn has a crackin’ life, filled with nepotism and undeserved opportunity, thanks to Victoria and David, and I want a piece of the pie. That little bastard does anything he wants. [laughs] I think he’s a chef now. [laughs] The other day, I tried doin’ sexual talking again, and I said to my boyfriend, “What if we pretended I’m a virgin?” And he was like, “My imagination’s not that good, Fern.”

[laughter]

You know, before goin’ out with him, I thought I was a really sexy person just ’cause I’d had… sex! Thought I was a real slag. That’s a very Catholic view. I was like, “I’m dead sexy ’cause I’ve had sex.” I’m not. I’m really vanilla. I’m incredibly borin’. And I found this out because I got told off for kink shamin’. Uh, it was on a podcast hosted by Gen Zers. The term “kink shaming” is such a Gen Z concept. I can’t engage with it on any serious level. So the moment they went, “Actually, Fern, don’t kink shame,” I was like, “How about you stop crappin’ in each other’s mouths then, you little perverts?” [laughter] [chuckles] That was when I was like, “Get a Telegraph subscription.” [laughs] But, honestly, like, this is what I mean about gettin’ older. I’m like, “Is this where young people’s sense of victimhood comes from?” “That you can’t do poo-poo, pee-pee play without me laughin’ at it?” “In my day, we were out protestin’ against the war!” [laughs] Uh, I mean, people in my school were. I think. I don’t know. [laughs] I don’t even know what war I’m referring to there. [laughs] And look, I’m sorry if… ‘Cause we are in a progressive town, if anyone… I’m worried someone’s gonna be sittin’ at the back with a little above-the-ear beanie, and they’re gonna have a little… [laughter] “Don’t kink shame!” [laughs] And I’m sorry if you’re into the old coprophilia, but, look, if you grow up Catholic in Scotland, it’s really one step removed from being Amish. You don’t have anything like it here. You’ve got Jacob Rees-Mogg. That’s your one Catholic. It’s not the same. So it’s quite a miracle I turned out to be the shagger I am today. It’s quite brave. ‘Cause I got told a lot of sex lies growing up, and this is one of the biggest ones. It was told to me by my granny. She was a very sweet woman but deeply religious. She had two types of holy water. Everyday use. Special occasions.

[laughter]

Death and comas, all right? She took me aside one day in the summer holidays when I was 14, and she looked so uncomfortable. And I didn’t wanna make my gran uncomfortable. And she said, “Oh, hen, I found these things in your room today.” “They’re no good. They’re no good for you. You shouldn’t have them.” And I thought, “Uh-oh, she’s found my Marlboro Lights.” She hadn’t. She’d found a box of tampons. ‘Cause I don’t know how many of you know… You know. Uh, old Irish Catholics believe that tampons compromise your virginity, which is bananas ’cause I would kill myself if a dick in any way resembled a tampon. And that is not intended to shame the micropenis community, none of whom are here tonight anyway. They’re all doing gigs of their own up and down the country, aren’t they? [laughter and applause] [chuckles]

[woman] Whoo!

[Fern] Aah! But for real, it’s not intended for that. I just think it’s wildly naive to assume what a woman looks for in a willy is what she looks for in a tampon. I mean, the nightmare scenarios that would ensue if willies had absorbency! [laughter] No more casual sex with your partner. ‘Cause now, if he’s a bit slobby, you have to nag him any time you want to have sex, “Will you go wring your willy out in the sink?” “‘Cause it’s drippin’.” [laughter and gasping] He’d have to haul himself out of bed, feelin’ dejected, feelin’ emasculated, feelin’ ashamed. Trudge off to the bathroom. “I’m sorry, man. I went for a run in the rain, and it’s soaked through my joggin’ bottoms.” He’d have to take his bloated, spongy willy, drape it over the edge of the sink, and then wring it out dejectedly, like a barman’s dishrag at the end of a shift. He’d trudge back to bed. You’ll be lyin’ there with your hands protectively over your boobs. “Stop drippin’ it on the new wooden floors!” “Well, we can have sex now.” “I don’t even feel like it anymore.” You’d say, “I just want a guy that can keep his dick dry.” [laughs] It’d become a conversation topic amongst women. “Yeah, her new boyfriend, he don’t keep his dick dry.” Nicki Minaj would write a hit song about it. “My Man Keeps His Dick Dry.” [laughs] It’s good goin’ out with someone a long time. It’s really comfortin’ to be able to come back from tour and lounge around the house wearing your boyfriend’s hoodie, like a girly girl. But the other day, I’d been wearin’ his hoodie for, like, a solid week, ’cause I’m a skank, and it was gettin’ stinky. I said to him… He was doing the laundry, and I said, “There’s your hoodie, pal.” And he said, “That’s not my hoodie, Fern.” That was when I thought, “Right enough. You’re quite a small-framed man.” I’m actually wearin’ the very large hoodie of my elderly Albanian builder, and…

[laughter]

…had been doing so for a week in front of the builder… like a psychopath. Offerin’ him cups of tea wearing his clothes. Askin’ him how the tiling in the en suite was coming along, dressed as him! But never mentionin’ it for a whole week, just so the guy thought his mind was playing tricks on him. [sighs] Oh God. That’s my way of saying I got a house, right? I got a house. It’s great. You have a house. A landlord can’t tell you what to do anymore. I thought, “Right, man. The first thing I’m gonna do is get a dog.” I love dogs. I’m a dog person. Not a cat person. I had a cat once at uni. Uh, it was dreadful. Uh, well done if you’ve got a rescue cat and you get on with it. This cat I got was satanic. It hissed at me. It let me touch it once a week. It was like living with a cold Russian whore. [laughing] Sex worker. Sorry. [laughs] But it was a… it was a mean cat, so I was like, “I’m gonna get a wee dog.” And then my boyfriend said, “You can’t. You’re away on tour too much.” “Get a cat.” Well, I got a cat. I got a fancy, luxury cat. Uh… I didn’t get the kind that attacks you for no reason. I got a lobotomized pedigree cat that just… you just cradle like a mental patient. It’s amazin’. I love this cat more than either of my parents. Within six months, I had a plumber come round, and he said that the cat looked lonely. He just made this passing comment, the cat looked lonely. I immediately bought another cat to help the first cat. I love my cat so much, I bought him a pet cat, right? I love him more than you could ever know. In spite of this, I’m not a cat person. I’m a dog person without a dog. Youse understand, right? The people in my life don’t. As soon as I got the cats and I started postin’ about them on Instagram, people closest to me, my mum, my best friend of 20 years, started calling me a cat lady and buying me disgustin’ cat-themed gifts. Hideous mugs with cats on them. Tacky paintings of a woman holding a cat in her lap. Why would I like that? That’s such an offensive gi… I love my cats ’cause they’re great little guys. I’ve raised them from when they were kittens. I’ve cleaned up their mess. I love them because they have amazing personalities, not because they’re cat-shaped. It’d be like you guys… You guys are together, right? You love him. You maybe post about him on social media. I would never dare give you a calendar of similar-looking bald men…

[laughter]

[laughs] …and say to you… [applause] “Why don’t you like your present?” “They all look vaguely like the outline of him.” Do you know what? You’re not even really bald, so I’m sorry I said that! [laughter and applause] I don’t wanna hurt anyone. Even though I’m quite… I’m quite an edgelord onstage, I don’t wanna hurt anyone. [laughs] So I love my cats an embarrassing amount. I really hate how much I love them, uh, because I’ve always hated other… [laughs] I don’t know why this is. People that are too, too into animals, the outcomes are never good. Tiger King, the Australian guy… [laughs] D’you know what I mean? It doesn’t pan out well for them. So you don’t wanna love animals too much. There’s also a cliché that autistic people can connect with animals more, and you just love havin’ pets more than neurotypical people, and I do feel that way. My cats are present with me in a way that humans aren’t. They don’t judge me on anything that I say. I can do so many things with my cats that I can’t do with my friends. I can masturbate in front of them with… [laughter] …no change in their facial expression. You can’t do that with your human friends, unless you’re Louis C.K. [laughs]

[applause]

Then you can go back on tour. [chuckles] But, yeah, um, it’s nice, it’s nice, the home life I’ve got now. I had a very chaotic life when I was younger, and now I have a nice, borin’ home life, just me, the cats, and the boyfriend. But still, when you’re autistic, you still never really feel like you’re gonna fit in. But in spite of the fact that I feel confidently that I am, uh, an autistic, A* Best Autistic Ever, I was really worried about calling the show Autistic Bikini Queen, ’cause I thought you guys would just look at me and ’cause I’m not a little boy holdin’ a toy train, lookin’ sadly at the ground, I thought you’d be like, “She’s lyin’.” [laughs] “To get at that lucrative autistic pound.” [laughs] And then I told my best friend, Alison. I said, “My audience are gonna think that I’m not autistic.” And Alison’s really polite, and she sorta paused for a moment, and she said, uh, “Don’t take this the wrong way, Fern.” “I hope this isn’t offensive.” “You don’t need to worry about that anymore.” [laughter] She was like, “Your audience know something’s up with you within a few minutes of you walking onstage.” I thought that was the nicest compliment ever. I was so pleased with it. ‘Cause in the run-up to gettin’ diagnosed, pretty much everyone in my life was sayin’, “If you’re not autistic, then what the fuck are you?” And then it flipped the second I got diagnosed, and people were like, “Well, you don’t look autistic at all.” [laughing] I’m like, “What do you know about it?” They have to interview your mum when you get diagnosed, or one of your parents, and they interviewed my mum about it. Uh, they were like, “Oh, did she have any autistic traits as a child?” My mum came out with this dropdown list of the most Rain Man shit you’ve ever heard in your life that she hadn’t thought to mention. She was like, “Oh, um, well, she used to growl at strangers when they spoke to her in the street.” “But we just thought she was evil.” [laughs mockingly] ♪ Good old Catholicism In the Middle Ages ♪ How was I not drowned at birth? “We just thought she was evil.” [laughs] I also got told… I got told I couldn’t be autistic ’cause I’d had a boyfriend. Uh, ’cause apparently, you have to be a sea monster to be autistic. I thought that one was really mad, because it kinda presumes that men are listenin’ to a word young women are sayin’. Like, I’ll give you an example. No one listens to me till I got a mic in my hand. I remember pulling some guy, some idiot I met in a backpackers’ hostel when I was a young woman. And I pumped him. Sorry to be vulgar! [laughs] And afterwards, he’s turned to me, and he said, “Aah!” “How was that for you?” And I went, “Rubbish. Fucking rubbish, mate.” And he went, “Ah, good.” [puffs]

[laughter]

Do you think he was listenin’ to me? Do you think he was lookin’ for the discreet manifestations in autistic women? No! But, anyway, look, uh, I… I’m finally starting to feel okay with my autism. Uh, but you still feel left out, you know? You still feel like you don’t fit in with other women. I’ve given up trying to fit in with other women, by the way. Any time I do, it just backfires even worse. But the combination of wanting to fit in somehow and my recent near-death experience, you know, it’s made me want to do somethin’ that makes me feel accepted onstage every night. So I’ve found a way to do it. I need one of you guys to help me. All through the show, I’ve been lookin’ at the front row, bein’ like, “Who looks not insane?” “Who looks like they’re gonna help me?” It’s quite hard with my audience. Can you help me? Okay. What’s your name? Okay, Ollie. I’m gonna, uh, play some music. Can you play something romantic, something really romantic? Okay.

[piano music plays]

Come up. Give Ollie a round of applause.

Take the mic.

[cheering and applause] Okay. I see you’re with your girlfriend there. Yeah… [laughter]

Don’t look at her anymore. [giggles]

[laughs] Ahem. [laughing] “Dear… Dear Brooklyn Beckham…” [laughter] “I wanted your favorite song to be playing when I did this.” “Unfortunately, the cost of playing Shania Twain in a theater was too high.” It’s too high. “So we’re playing this generic crap instead.” [laughs] “You have brought more joy to me in the last hour than my girlfriend has in the last year.” [laughter] “As soon as we leave here tonight, she’s getting dumped, haha.”

“See ya…”

She… she looks really happy about it. [laughter] She’s not bothered at all. [chuckles] “See ya, babe.”

Uh…

[laughter] “Our love is so special.” “You are a beautiful, sensitive, charming woman, and there’s no one else I’d want to fart onto my balls.” Your voice sounds like it’s trembling with emotion. Yeah. Uh… [laughter and applause] [laughs] “I promise to kiss your withered tits every day, even when you are a skeleton, even when you are dead.” Oh! Oh! I can’t believe this is happening!

“That’s why I’m proposing to you…”

This is so spontaneous! I can’t believe you’re doing this at my work! “I’m proposing with this ring, balanced on the pillow I will one day smother you with when you are terminally ill.” Ollie, you don’t need to sound happy about it. You sound cheerful. I’m just… I’m just nearly at the end. Um…

[laughter and applause]

“And I’m hoping you will say yes.” Ah! Ah! Yes! The answer’s not on the page. It’s in my heart. One thousand yeses. Let me touch your chest now, so we can get that essential Instagram photo to show that I’m a real woman.

[cheering and applause]

Your heart’s beating really fast. Give him a round of applause. He was amazing.

[cheering and applause]

I finally feel like I’ve achieved something as a woman. You guys have been lovely as well. You’ve made it such a fun show. Enjoy the rest of your night and lives. I’ve been Fern Brady. Good night!

[cheering and whistling]

[rock music plays]

[cheering and applause continue]

[applause fades]

[music fades]

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