Bridget Christie is one of British comedy’s most distinctive and important voices, so the publication of her debut tome, titled A Book For Her, was bound to garner lots of attention. And with good reason – the 2013 Edinburgh Comedy Award winner has forged a reputation for combining satire and surrealism in order to discuss difficult subjects and big themes, including feminism and FGM.
After hugely successful runs of A Bic For Her and An Ungrateful Woman, she’s embarking on a tour and book signing, with visits to Coventry and Birmingham as part of her nationwide jaunt. It’s a great opportunity to see one of the UK’s finest, and most challenging, stand-ups melding intelligent comedy and silliness better than almost anyone on the circuit.
Bridget spoke to WLN about A Book For Her, both the book and the live show, her approach to comedy and how she decides what to write about.
WLN: You’ve tackled big subjects such as feminism and FGM in your comedy. Is it easy to identify topics like this to explore?
Bridget Christie: 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.
WLN: How have you found meeting fans at book signings and after gigs?
BC: 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.
WLN: What subjects are you turning your attention to at the moment?
BC: 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. 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 daughter asks me if she’s going to die, I have to say, well yes, but not for about a thousand years.
WLN: As well as a host of comedy awards, you’ve also won a Women Of The Year award from Red magazine, and been honored at Marie Claire’s Women At the Top awards. What impact did those have on you?
BC: 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.
WLN: What’s in store for the future?
BC: 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.