Hey, you – sexist sports pundit. If you think that feminism’s ruined your life, just take a look at Bridget Christie. She was hoping to ‘give up’ comedy and be ‘financially supported by [her] husband’ last year. Instead, she happened to win Edinburgh’s top comedy award with a passionate show about gender equality. Now she’s a Festival must-see, an in-demand panel show guest and a prominent figure in the campaign against female genital mutilation. What a palaver!
Of course, Christie’s joking – acting the ‘ungrateful woman’ of the show’s title. She’s not weighed down by ambition. Maybe it is hard work presenting scary issues to a comedy audience, but Christie’s stand-up isn’t hampered by her beliefs – it buzzes with purpose. Her energy binds the room together. Her quickness captivates. Her self-awareness pre-empts any criticisms, particularly when she pokes fun at her own bluster (she compares her ‘always on’ approach to feminism to Rob Brydon in ‘The Trip’, except with righteous ire rather than Michael Caine impressions).
It goes to show, Christie doesn’t always need to be serious, even if her subject matter is. In this way she can mix the hilarious image of Steve Davis chalking up the tip of his penis for a game of snooker with truly harrowing accounts of gender violence at home and abroad. There are tragic realities which emerge through the comic silliness. The whole show, in fact, takes a roundabout route to a candid conclusion, with seemingly digressive themes and stories actually allowing Christie to move closer to her real message: bringing about an end to FGM.
It’s only when she hits out at acknowledged berks – Twitter trolls; the right-wing press; the Tory cabinet – that the content, and the gags, feel more generic. The rest is informative, groundbreaking stand-up that whips up anger, yes, but also, more crucially, galvanises support.
This isn’t just a positive direction for Christie’s comedy, it’s positive for the genre as a whole. The critics might have expected her to take a different tack this year, but maybe it’s the Fringe that’s due a change in course.