An Ungrateful Woman
Another utterly brilliant marriage of comedy and politics from Bridget Christie ★★★★1/2
Written by Peter Edwards in London Is Funny on August 8th, 2014
No dips in form here. Bridget Christie, last year’s Foster’s Award winner, has produced another stellar show full of insightful discussions of feminism, absurd set-ups, and punchy one-liners.
An Ungrateful Woman won’t win this year’s prize but it deserves just as long a shelf life as A Bic for Her. In its capacity to incorporate large numbers of clever gags – often at the expense of her husband, Stewart Lee – with a serious discussion of sexual violence against women, and female genital mutilation (FGM), this show deserves to run and run. It soon becomes clear that Christie has, sensibly, moved on from last year’s success.
“I did a show last year – I thought it would go really badly and I could give up and rely on my husband’s job”, she begins. But Christie has been forced to return and has been “sweeping the barrel for content”.
A lot has happened over the past year, however, to make it necessary for an update on her struggle against misogyny. This ranges from some truly appalling events – the abduction of 250 Nigerian schoolgirls and stoning to death of a Pakistani child by her father – to the truly ridiculous. And, in case you had missed it, the ridiculous is the comment by former world snooker champion Steve Davis that women will never reach the top of the game because they lack the single-mindedness to focus on such an “irrelevant” activity.
Such a view is a gift to someone like Christie, who skewers Davis with tremendous ease. It is the perfect jumping-off point for Christie, who said she used to be a “part-time feminist”, but went full-time because she gave birth to a daughter and, then, witnessed a man farting in the women’s section of a bookshop.
Christie veers between the silly and the ultra-serious. In describing her efforts to campaign against FGM , Christie was stunned when Michael Gove, then the schools secretary, finally sprang into action.
She brings together her horror at sexual violence with the trivia of her life as a comedian and sometime guest on television panel shows, explaining why she was spotted on Celebrity Squares – so she could earn the money to fund a film on FGM. As she describes her efforts to deal with her co-stars’ questions about the film, Christie moves from the comic to the desperately sad.
But it works. The humour does not detract from the passion or force with which she makes her case. Christie is on form. The references to her “fictional onstage husband”, as well as to Lee himself, just add another layer of comedy. But Christie, once again, has triumphed on her own terms.