A Book For Her
When Stand-Up Comedy Meets Feminist Literature (West Yorkshire Playhouse)
I have always been the sort of person who prefers to read the book before I see the movie (or play adaptation). In this case, that is not something I would recommend.
Written by Kayla TMF in Pursued By Bears on April 16th, 2016
When I took my seat in the audience of the Courtyard Theatre at West Yorkshire Playhouse to watch Bridget Christie’s stand-up show, I had just finished chapter nine of her book, A Book For Her. The book is an odd combination of comedy and serious feminist activism, some of which reads like a stand-up routine (in the literal sense, as she includes parts of the script of some routines), and some of which damn near brought me to tears. She talks about farts, and the odd coupling of Dora the Explorer and nudie magazines in supermarkets, about female genital mutilation and misogynists falling down elevator shafts. Her book is by no means extensive as a feminist text, but it isn’t meant to be. It’s about her experiences as a feminist, as a comedian, and as a feminist comedian.
The reason I wish I hadn’t started reading her book before seeing the show, was because many of the anecdotes in the show had been included verbatim in the book. It’s difficult to find something as funny if you already know the punchline. However, Bridget Christie’s hysterical facial expressions and adorable Gloucester lilt cannot be translated onto the page, and hearing her tell the stories in detail (including the ones I hadn’t read yet because I still had three chapters to go) was still thoroughly enjoyable. What was truly incredible, and unique to her brand of comedy, is the way in which she managed, cleverly and creatively, to turn very serious subjects like FGM and rape into a stand-up routine that was genuinely funny, and not offensive in the slightest. Bridget Christie is a feminist, making fun of misogyny and the patriarchy, in a room full of feminists, laughing at misogyny and the patriarchy. Humour is a brilliant weapon against oppressive forces in our society. In laughing at those who seek to assert patriarchal dominance over us, we poke holes in that power, and face how that oppression affects us.
I was lucky enough to meet Bridget after the show and chat to her about feminism (and get my book signed). Her onstage persona of Bridget Christie the Feminist Comedian is pretty much exactly the same as the in-person Bridget Christie Feminist Comedian. Approachable, down-to-earth, and chatty. What I loved most about Bridget, her stand-up, and the book, what I took away from the experience, and what I will endeavour from hereon to encompass in my own life and conversations about feminism, is that she assumes that everyone’s default position is feminist, unless they do or say something to prove otherwise. This seems obvious to me now, because all ‘feminist’ means is a person who believes in social, economic, and political equality between genders. My go-to question shouldn’t be, ‘Are you a feminist?’, but rather, ‘How could you not be?’
If you missed out on her comedy tour – read the book or look her up on YouTube. She’s brilliant.