Roughly half-way through her new Edinburgh hour, Bridget Christie temporarily ventures away from politics and her traditional subject of feminism, and introduces a section about matters of race. “I’ve run this past all my black and ethnic-minority friends,” she enthuses, “and she said it was fine.”
It’s a great joke, and a neat distillation of what makes Christie such a cherishable comedian. Essentially, whatever the seriousness of the subject she’s discussing, however passionately she’s laying into her pet hates, she never forgets also to make herself an object of mirth, and does so with charm and brio to spare.
It’s a talent that won her the coveted Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Award in 2013 and saw her return last year with an even better show, both sets entirely about feminism. And, if this year’s all-new offering, A Book for Her, doesn’t quite have the exquisite Swiss-timepiece construction of 2014’s, it is still a super piece of work, packed with strong writing, with Christie casting her comedic net more widely than of late.
She jokily acknowledges that she’s one of the left-wing comedians (the sort you may have read about this week) that have “overrun” her profession, hates the Tories and recent election result, and – like her husband, fellow stand-up Stewart Lee – doesn’t have much time for the right-wing press either.
However, having soon launched into a terrific section on her “favourite character comedian” (UKIP leader Nigel Farage), she is also taking a welcome and well-judged potshot at the Labour leadership contest, which she says is as thrilling as buying bathroom fittings with an elderly relative.
But gender equality is still high on the agenda too, and in the middle section of the show she raids the new book of hers that gives this show its title. This works fine, partly because that tome is immensely entertaining, but also because it reads very much like a stand-up routine anyway. (In a typically and excellently Christiean inversion, she explains that being a feminist means she’s extremely hairy and hates all men, all of whom she thinks are rapists. Even her son.)
Perhaps the best passage of all, though, deals with Rachel Dolezal, the white former president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People who for years pretended she was black. Christie is unsparing in her treatment of her, and the way this unmistakably Caucasian comedian pulls that bizarre story back to her own insecurities is one of the funniest things I’ve yet heard this August.
But she also condemns the public mauling that film star Benedict Cumberbatch received in January after referring to black actors as “coloured”. As she says, the NAACP uses the word in its very title and, well, wouldn’t they be quite likely to get it right?
On a real roll these days, Christie is a leftie for all comers, and continues to be one of the delights of the Fringe. Catch her if you can.