Tangled times call for a tangled comedian, and Bridget Christie’s latest stand-up show, What Now?, proves again that she is the woman for the job. Angry, yet absurd, and caustic, yet confused, she follows up her career-making shows about feminism and Brexit with a show about the lies, damned lies, that dominate our world. And in it she manages to score serious hits against a culture of consequence-free mendacity by mixing the serious with the silly in perfect proportions.
“I’m a heterosexual, able-bodied, privileged white woman,” she roars, simultaneously on-the-money and over-the-top, stalking the stage with the emphatic physicality of someone embodying and parodying the fact that, hell, even she is concerned with what’s going on these days. She’s fed up with liars, from Trump and Putin down. So she considers it her duty to tell us only the truth.
This neat conceit unites all her disparate routines. She starts by taking down a boorish male television executive within the Trojan horse of pretending that her past six years of feminism was a ploy to get famous. When she then junks the irony to argue how small infractions connect to greater societal injustices — the kind of sensible, but potentially earnest argument that might normally get a comedy crowd running to the bar — she has prepared her ground so thoroughly that her articulacy plays like a glorious release of tension.
She then gets mileage out of mocking her fancy middle-class life. She is free to say how boring her children are, how mundane her marriage is — because marriages descend from passion to admin and passive-aggressive conversations about who’s cooking tonight — and how awful some of her fellow parents are.
Yet she’ll go from domestic piffle to an adroit comparison between Trump’s fibs and her seven-year-old daughter’s lies. She’ll segue from an overblown takedown of the commercialism of Valentine’s Day to a resonant take on how love is the one thing that we must never monetise. And by cutting her joyfully jaundiced half-truths with outbursts of full-truths, by never letting the momentum slide, she cements her reputation as one of our most engaged and engaging comedians. Not a word of a lie.