Most years at the Fringe, there’s considerable division over the winner of the Edinburgh Comedy Award, but not in 2013 when Bridget Christie won for A Bic For Her, a show that expertly fillets everyday sexism and misogyny. Even those who remarked that they never knew feminism could be funny – idiots all, of course – acknowledged the show is an hour of superbly crafted comedy.
At the start of a residency at the Soho Theatre in London, Christie sets out her stall – “Women were invented years ago when God realised that Adam needed an audience for his jokes,” she says, and we’re off. She makes an early mention of that arch-anti-feminist, Margaret Thatcher, neatly signposted by a reference to turning, before she deliberately drives into a joke cul-de-sac with the mention of ice-skater Jayne Torvill.
She then lays into Sir Stirling Moss, derring-do racing-car driver of yesteryear and now a mature chap in possession of some 19th-century opinions about women. Not long after making some disobliging comments about women’s unsuitability for racing fast cars because of their frailty, the poor chap fell down a lift shaft and received some horrible injuries.
Christie mines some great comedy from this juxtaposition, but not in an unkind way. She’s clearly thinks fondly of the old grump but her real anger – for BBC sports commentator John Inverdale, who made a disgraceful remark about Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli’s looks – makes clear. Let’s just say the punishment she’d like to mete out, involving a speedy serve, a tennis ball and the limits of a ballboy or girl’s on-court retrieval duties, is eyewatering.
Christie is never preachy. Rather, she lays out absurd arguments taken to the point of stuttering rage to make her points, and also uses the clever device of putting words into hecklers’ mouths to comment on concerns such as domestic violence, rape and female genital mutilation. She’s a wonderful physical comic, too, hilariously acting out a scene in which the Brontë sisters realise that they can’t write their masterpieces because the pen of the show’s title, “in a range of pastel shades with an easy-to-hold grip” for delicate little fingers, has not yet been invented.
After being in the industry for 10 years Christie is having her moment, and it’s thoroughly well deserved.
Few comics (with some honourable exceptions) are willing or able to write overtly political comedy, and she dares to take on the heavyweight – and to many, dead-end – subject of feminism, without once being preachy or po-faced. Pure joy.