War Donkey ★★★★
Written by Stevie Martin in Spoonfed on August 21st, 2012
5. Bridget Christie: War Donkey
“Yes, this is an hour about feminism, but it’s an entertaining, often very funny hour.” Stevie Martin reviews Bridget Christie’s War Donkey.
War donkey is a slightly misleading title, considering the donkey only crops up for about ten minutes before Christie moves on to the business of slowly inflating her clothing.
Yes, it does sound kooky for wacky’s sake, and for the first fifteen minutes things look to be going in that direction, but this is a good, solid hour from the Fringe veteran. Having performed as an ant comedian in the past, and considering last year’s bewildering foray as a Catholic (she felt there weren’t enough Catholic comedians on the circuit), this is a much more accessible, yet still bonkers, show.
There are weird flights of fancy (see aforementioned inflation of clothing) but a solid throughline in the form of a day last year where she experienced several examples of misogyny. Yes, this is an hour about feminism, but it’s an entertaining, often very funny hour, appreciated by the males in the audience as much as the females.
The war donkey is a thinly veiled metaphor for female stand-up comedians, and Christie isn’t subtle about this comparison. In fact, she’s never subtle about anything. While this can grate when the material isn’t there (last year’s offering was just a bit too crazed and a more than a little joke-lite), here she straddles the fine line between endearingly mental and annoyingly “kooky”.
Sure, a few of her gags go on too long, but she announces this whenever it occurs: “That bit’s for me,” she grins, “it never gets anything, but I like it”. Instead of coming across as irritatingly gratuitous, this only adds to her likeability. That and the way she’s constantly stumbling on props and costumes strewn all over the stage from an OTT opening.
Talking about her experiences of mysogyny, Christie touches on feminism as a whole –from the flaws of wearing a THIS IS WHAT A FEMINIST LOOKS LIKE t-shirt to the problems of designer vaginas thanks to the porn industry. It’s a whistlestop sprint through her disparate opinions, and none of them link particularly smoothly, but it fits with her slightly manic style.
The routines, when taken individually, are often sharply funny, sometimes gently entertaining and, despite there being nothing particularly challenging or controversial about her opinions, they’re always enjoyable to watch. And many seemingly predictable tangents are taken in delightfully strange directions.
Perhaps, though, she could have focused a little more on fewer issues as opposed to trying to throw everything in at once, as you’re left with a well-intentioned but tangled jumble of ideas. The finale, that of breaking wind in book shops (it makes sense in context, sort of) feels a little underwhelming considering the middle section is frankly a lot stronger, and the actual ending is a little contrived.
Attempting to add a bizarre spin to it with fart jokes nearly works, but doesn’t quite wrap up the many strands she’s attempting to tie together. However, this is still a very entertaining hour from the bonkers comic, and a lot more accessible than previous shows.