In 2013, Bridget Christie’s highly original feminism-themed stand-up show won her the coveted Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Award. But this year’s offering – once again full of both rage at the treatment of women across the world, and lots of elegantly written jokes – is not just a case of a comedian gutsily sticking to her guns, but is also better.
On, like last year’s, at the appropriately in-yer-face Stand One, An Ungrateful Woman feels more intricately crafted, with Christie choosing her targets more widely and shrewdly, and (unlike last year’s) not a single section outstaying its welcome. She has become more adept at turning on a sixpence between being comical, or serious, or both at once, and at pricking her own earnestness, too, all of which make her anger much easier to take. It’s a simply terrific performance.
As before, this garrulous, whip-smart native of Gloucestershire is on a quest to end misogyny. And the result is a more or less flawless show whose central thread deals – improbably, but craftily – with her audition for the starring role in an advert for yogurt. She first gets there via some good material on snooker-player Steve Davis, anti-rape pants, and an edgily funny and morally on-the-nose passage on an imaginary British 13-year-old being stalked home but trying to console herself with the fact that, hey, at least she’s not in Saudi Arabia. There’s also a nicely scathing survey of the current H&M bikini adverts starring supermodel Gisele Bundchen.
In fact, ads – and the stereotypes they peddle – come in for a repeated and richly deserved kicking. “In advertisements,” she says, “there are just two types of women: wanton, gagging for it; or vacuous. We’re either coming on a widow-pane, or laughing at salads.”
A cornerstone of the show is the substantial late section on a phenomenon that Christie mentioned very briefly last year: female genital mutilation, or FGM. She allows herself the odd half-minute of undiluted seriousness on this ungainsayably barbaric practice, which she is genuinely committed to battling. But laughs are never far off, and she also, by the way, gives a richly deserved mention of the priceless, Ali G-style interview (“What Is FMG?”) that she recorded with the anti-FGM activist Leyla Hussein.