Bridget Christie has come a long way since her first Edinburgh, where every day for a month she would shove a Mini Babybel down a papier mâché hill to recreate the Gloucester cheese roll.
Her sense of silliness hasn’t dimmed over the intervening seven years, but now she’s applying it to a serious subject that’s close to her heart, feminism, and without the daft costumes of previous shows. And the mix of the weighty and the absurd is potent.
That most people might consider feminism and humour mutually exclusive is one of several fertile strands of comedy. Christie makes several self-mocking jibes about an 11am show challenging inequality being a difficult sell, as well as the idea that there could be anything funny about the topic at all.
Yet she’s skillful enough to find a sneaky way to smuggle even some of the more appalling global consequences of misogyny into the show, while keeping it light. However, the bleak side is not the thrust of her argument; she’s largely concentrated on the drip-drip of everyday sexism, to quote a hashtag, that is so ripe for ridicule.
The title, if you didn’t know, came from a pathetic marketing campaign for pastel ballpoints designed for the feminine hand, since women have clearly struggled for decades with the hefty, masculine devices previously only available to people with two different sex chromosomes.
No rhetoric is so powerful as contempt, and Christie brilliantly deconstructs the sexism of Stirling Moss and his ilk, getting increasingly rabid in her incredulous rage – and winning extra laughs from acknowledging just how het up she’s getting or how exhausting the performance. She takes this anger to the outside world, too, and describes minor acts of direct action against lads’ mags she feels compelled to carry out.
The sincerity of her campaign gives the show a heart to match the hard-to-dispute logic of her arguments, which are nonetheless present though a lens of absurdity. Throw in the uniquely tangential way she broaches her targets, some sharp yet surreal writing, and a witty self-awareness of her own silliness, and you have a triumphant hour that scores on every measure.