My Daily Mail Hell

My Daily Mail Hell: Gilded Balloon, Edinburgh Festival ★★★★

GIVEN that Bridget Christie’s past two Edinburgh shows have seen her dress up as characters from the age of King Charles II, including witch-finder Generals and - particularly surreally - the Black Death, it’s hardly surprising that she emerges for her latest routine looking silly in costume.

Written by Claudia Goulder in The Express on August 12th, 2009

The girl likes theatrics. This year, she dons a 1920s-style penguin suit reminiscent of Jack Vettriano’s The Singing Butler – the reason for which becoming clear later – and tells us about “making tea for racists” in her former life as a Fleet Street hackette. It’s not the most conventional of routines, but then, Christie never purports to be that. She uses the show to recount her time as an assistant on a London diary column – by day doing the lineage sheets, buying tea rounds an, on occasion, doing dry cleaning for so-called “feminist” colleagues, by night letting off steam doing spots on the London comedy circuit.

In this quirky, engaging and at times stupidly funny trip down memory lane, she shares her experiences of being adrift in a world of wealth, fame and (albeit often minor) celebrity.

Drawing on the more surreal aspects of the job – and believe me, as an erstwhile diary columnist, there are many – she has enough good anecdotes to fill the show…. including being strangled by Gene Wilder, chatted up by Antonio Banderas and hated by Jack Vettriano. The comedy lies in her bewilderment at it all.One day while out jogging, she spots BBC exec Alan Yentob fall off his chair at a swanky Thames-side party. The next – after mentioning it in passing to colleagues – she finds the anecdote, complete with strapline Yentob Does A Floor Show and “onlooker” comments, staring back at her in newsprint. “I’d only said it to make small talk,” she proffers in her disarming, Gloucester girl drawl.

Like Yentob on his chair, the show revels in its own clumsiness. Christie, an endearing mix of simmering cynicism and wide-eyed innocence, is unafraid to look stupid on stage.Despite flashes of darkness – “I like life, but sometimes I do wish I could just die” – she emerges from her stint on the periphery of that tragic and hollow thing, the ‘showbiz world’, with a sense of hope and her dignity in tact.

Best of all, she reveals, her husband forgave her for her ‘sins’.

A happy ending in stand-up? It must be a first.


Written by Claudia Goulder in The Express on 12th August 2009.
Filed Under: Review