Clever, funny, angry stand-up. ★★★★
Written by Mark Muldoon in ShortCom on November 8th, 2018
Bridget Christie has built a reputation as a pretty serious comic. Whether it’s her attacks on – most famously – the patriarchy, FGM or Brexit, she’s highly critically acclaimed for her well-argued, funny broadsides on the big topics. In amongst all that stuff however, it’s less recognised how pleasingly silly she can be.
This can mean that serious topics occasionally get a daft, enjoyably surreal punchline. Before some of the weightier topics of the evening are tackled, the audience is warmed up with jokes about autoerotic asphyxiation or inserting cosmetic goods into the anus. For any newcomers in the audience, Christie introduces her style of comedy with a fairly savage take-down of Ed Sheeran. It’s a fun, relatively lighthearted way of making a broader feminist point. It would work well on, say, Live at the Apollo or in a section of The Mash Report designed to be cut into a three minute online clip for maximum viral potential. Given her usual Radio 4 leaning audience, some might consider it unnecessary pandering. Sheeran is the breezy target near the start of the evening though. Christie is just getting warmed up.
Central to the 75 minute performance is a section where she announces that she’s been lying all along: she’s spent the last six years as a fake feminist, in a canny move to boost her standup career. This facilitates a fantastic throwaway comedic idea that the only person who ever noticed was a persistent online troll, but the section leads quickly into an enraged takedown of a misogynist TV executive she once had a meeting with. It makes for a signature Christie routine – a vicious, well-crafted argument that has the pleasing advantage of being very funny at the same time. Many comedy fans will be aware that standup has contained a lot of lecturing lately. With Christie you know that when she is making a great point, there’s always going to be good punchline at the end to sell it.
If that segment is Christie at her best, some of the material that follows – attempts to create excitement in an ongoing marriage, say – can feel a little lightweight and inessential by comparison. Dotted throughout the show there’s a lot of sniping directed at her husband, which gets added knowing laughs from this audience. Occasionally however, there are hints that Christie might be making some pretty frank admissions that her marriage has had genuine difficult patches.
She also discusses parenting a fair amount. It’s still refreshing to hear a female comic alight on the subject without caring that an audience might judge them, perhaps thinking “oh she’s discussing motherhood because she’s got nothing better to talk about” (whereas male comics can find themselves practically hero-worshipped when they discuss fatherhood). Insulting your children is still a highly dependable way to get laughs though – Romesh Ranganathan provides solid proof of that – and besides, Christie has the skill to tie her domestic material to political topics. It’s only when you reach the end of a routine about what it’s like to argue with a child that you realise it was also about… you’ll have to find out.
It’s clever, funny, angry stand-up. A signature Christie show in general, then.