Marlowe Studio, Canterbury
Bridget Christie was described by a man on the internet as a knowing parody of 80s feminist stand-ups. It’s not true, she huffs during this bumper edition of her 2013–14 shows: she’s like this all the time.
Christie’s comedy has gone in recent years from whimsy to feminism, and her newer stand-up feels inspired by a desire for change, both societal and comedic. What’s satisfying is that the Edinburgh Comedy Award-winner delivers smart laughs and a firecracker of a show on her own terms.
The insidious Bic of the first hour’s title promises – finally! – a pen designed for women. Hyped as having a ‘thinner barrel’, drawn suspiciously like a waist, the ballpoint’s bluster knows no bounds. Christie grapples on stage with a manly pen, demonstrating how hard it has been until now for women to make alphabet shapes on paper.
Everyday sexism is the theme – things that go under the radar but perpetuate gender myths. Christie wants to reclaim ‘feminist’ as the positive term it should be, rather than change it to ‘bootylicious’ as per Beyonce’s suggestion.
She often undercuts her routines in a similar way to Stewart Lee. This can be a tricky balance when much of the show is overtly sincere – the praise for Malala Yousafzai; the rage at female genital mutilation – but Christie makes it work. So a sexist line from Steve Davis leads to a scurrilous shot at snooker, before Christie points out that his words weren’t quite in context.
The first hour is lighter, albeit involving Sir Stirling Moss’s plunge down a lift shaft. Christie feels the same way; she has described A Bic for Her as ‘one routine shouted after another’ and a serious bit, while An Ungrateful Woman is meticulously structured. The difference is partly to help cover more difficult ground in the 2014 hour. Female circumcision is as far from comedy fodder as you can get, so Christie nests the troubling content within a frame routine of auditioning for a Müller ad.
To please the dairy despot, Christie must act delighted when she finds a smiling stranger perched in her fridge offering yoghurt. Instead, she ostracises herself from fellow auditionees and the mighty Müller by laughing her arse off. The story allows the show to switch from witty, earnest politicking to near-surreal silliness. Christie also gets mileage out of advertising absurdities in another bit – you’ll never be able to see women laughing at salads without thinking of this.
Serious politics brushes up unapologetically against the comedy. A routine about anti-rape pants is intensely angry. Time is devoted to speaking straight about tough issues. Your thoughts on this will be down to taste. In future, Christie may choose to bridge the comedy–politics divide differently. The approaches she takes in these two shows suggest she’s interested in playing with form to enliven the content.
She does what she does superbly and without compromise, and it’s enough to earn insults from men’s-rights bores online. Don’t expect to catch her on Live at the Apollo any time soon – go see her live.