Comedians who tackle the problems of the world aren’t exactly stuck for material these days.
For her last few shows, Bridget Christie has been laying bare some of the terrible (and often bizarre) misogynistic attitudes which prevail in the UK and further afield: from companies making pens that fit into a woman’s hand to the tax on sanitary products and degrading sexist statements made by prominent public figures.
These are subjects that Christie will be tackling when she brings her show to The Stables in Milton Keynes on Tuesday April 26.
With new touring show, A Book For Her, Christie is keeping the pressure on those who propagate attitudes designed to foster gender inequality.
Would she say that she’s spoilt for choice when it comes to finding material for her shows?
“Yes, which is obviously bad for humanity but great for comedy. I’m hoping female oppression and inequality never get sorted out, otherwise I’ll have to find something else to write about.
“But I’ve only actually done two full shows about feminism, maybe two and a half hours in total. It’s a drop in the ocean. You could decide, if you wanted to, to just write about issues affecting women and girls for your entire career, and you still wouldn’t run out of things to talk about.
“Last year I widened it out a bit and talked about the wider politics, but I never know what I’m going to write about from one year to the next. It just depends on what happens in the world and which stories I connect with. So I’m led by events, really.”
For this tour, Christie will include an extra element given that she’s also promoting the paperback publication of A Book For Her: that of the post-show signing.
Some acts might recoil at being so up close and personal with their fanbase, but Christie is looking forward to these encounters.
She said: “People are so nice and friendly and I do genuinely enjoy meeting them. I’m not on social media, so this is an opportunity with me to interact with my audience on a more personal level and I prefer that kind of face-to-face contact.
“I’ve avoided social media so far because I like to have a clear distinction between my personal life and my work life and if I was constantly
interacting with my audience all the time I’d never feel like I was “off” as such.
The make-up of the tour is half an hour of brand new material and a second half of A Book For Her, which had a very successful run at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe and at London’s Leicester Square Theatre.
Christie admits that some sections of the Book section will need to be tweaked given that they contained material relevant to the then impending Labour leadership election while her routine on Nigel Farage has required some rejigging as UKIP’s head honcho has gone uncharacteristically quiet since the general election.
Among the newer areas of concern, Christie is pondering material about death and our very British attitude to mortality.
Bridget said: “We’re so scared of death in our culture that I don’t think we’ve worked out how best to deal with it yet. I listened to a brilliant documentary on the radio once.
“A doctor was saying that when we’re diagnosed with a terminal illness, instead of enjoying the time we’ve got left, we often put ourselves through painful and traumatic medical treatments to try and prolong life.
“The focus is always on trying to stay alive for longer, rather than making the most of the time you have left. Being in your own home, surrounded by friends and family, rather than in unfamiliar hospitals that make us feel isolated and alone. But audiences generally don’t like hearing about death and terminal illnesses so I probably won’t talk about it. I might do some material about the afterlife instead, which is hilarious, by all accounts.”
In her house, death is a topic that crops up quite often, mainly thanks to the rolling news media, which brings the subject almost constantly into our homes.
She said: “We’re quite open about death in our house and try not to make too big a deal of it. The children often ask about it, and I can’t lie to them, as they see through it. When my five-year-old daughter asks me if she’s going to die, I have to say, well yes, but not for about a thousand years.”
Bridget Christie has been in the comedy game for over a decade with shows, which initially garnered a passionate and loyal fanbase. In the last few years she’s added to her standing within the comedy world by receiving critical acclaim and winning several awards. Among them, she’s scooped the Edinburgh Comedy Award, a South Bank Sky Arts Award, the Chortle Award for Best Show, a Women Of The Year gong from Red magazine, and being honoured as part of Marie Claire’s Women At The Top awards.
Those last two in particular have left Christine feeling extremely humbled.
She said “The other women who also won awards were so impressive; they’d achieved extraordinary things and were celebrated for their amazing contributions to charity, science, business and the arts.
“It is obviously very humbling to be recognised for your work, but it doesn’t really effect anything on a day to day basis and neither should it. It also doesn’t make me think any differently about myself.
“I never win something and then think, “Right, I can file stand-up comedy away now, I’ve nailed that one’. I still feel like I have so much to learn. With awards, it’s a balance between enjoying and celebrating them and then forgetting about them and getting on with the job.”
In terms of the future, Christie is keen to do some acting, though not at the expense of the stand-up career that she has worked so hard to cultivate.
She said: “I have a few different projects on the go, but stand-up is always going to be my main priority. My ambition is to be a very good 65 or 70 year old working comedian, because I don’t think there are enough of them, certainly not female ones anyway, and because I enjoy it too much to ever retire.”