Bridget Christie’s show last year, A Bic For Her, was a double award winner and sold out at the Edinburgh Festival and the Soho Theatre (where I snagged tickets) – and this year sees her return with another show about feminism. Christie is a very funny person who makes jokes related to serious issues in order to make a point. An Ungrateful Woman is a follow-up/response to the previous show and the reaction to it, both hers and the public/media – after A Bic For Her, she was asked by a journalist what would be next for her, ‘now that she’d done feminism’, as if her writing an hour’s worth of jokes had solved 200,000 years of patriarchal dominance (as she put it).
The deft balance of self-awareness, righteous fury and humour make for an entertaining hour from a comedian who fizzes around the stage (she does a particularly animated and spot-on Russell Brand impression, an impression of someone playing snooker with their penis, and a pantomime of a woman walking on a street celebrating British sexism) but isn’t afraid to talk about female genital mutilation. Her ‘ungrateful woman’ act is because she now has to work instead of living off her husband and the response to people (i.e. men) who complain that she should feel grateful she’s allowed to talk about these issues, unlike in other countries (mostly ones run by despots and tyrants).
The main section of the show is about Christie auditioning for an advert for Muller yoghurt, which has plenty of digressions to discuss how women are perceived in the media and the advertising industry, female genital mutilation, the comparison between racism and misogyny (which led to a lovely frisson of discomfort in the audience, which Christie relished), and the attitude towards rape (I loved her line ‘my rape fantasy is more prosecutions and longer sentences’) – she makes a great point about a genuine thing that exists (AR Wear’s anti-rape underwear), which is they should be aimed at the rapists and not the victims. Her main point is about the general sexist attitude that exists in this country and how it seems to be so persuasive that it is not commented on any more – my girlfriend and I are the same age as Christie, and we feel that same ‘What happened?’ anger to the loss of the gains in equality that seemed to be achieved by the 1980s but which disappeared due to the New Laddism movement of the 1990s that set everything back to the 1970s.
The ability to combine the serious with the absurd and hilarious is the reason why Christie has achieved acclaim for this turn in her career, and you never feel like you’re being lectured – my face was aching from laughing so much – and she has a wonderful turn of phrase that can bring light into weighty ideas (her description about the uniqueness of vaginas was beautiful as well as funny). She also keeps things up to date and fresh for herself (she mentioned the Andrew Laurence Facebook rant about comedians, Nigel Farrage being a comedy character that never drops the act, and her interacting with the audience to highlight her response to a Gisele Bundchen pose in an advert which never got the right career choice to illustrate her point), which is good because she’s sold out her November run at the Soho Theatre and has had to add dates in January due to high demand. There’s a reason for that – she’s funny and she’s got something important to say: An Ungrateful Woman is another great show, and I highly recommend it.