Comic Bridget Christie: ‘I see my flasher’s penis on a regular basis. However I could make horrible issues amusing’ | Stage

‘I should let you know how outdated I’m going to be after I die,” says Bridget Christie, whipping out her telephone to point out me a small cartoon headstone bearing the date of her demise. Fittingly, we’re sitting in a churchyard close to her dwelling in London, not removed from some precise gravestones. In response to the app, Christie, who just lately turned 50, has 34 years left. As one of many many individuals who misplaced family members to Covid-19, dying has been on her thoughts through the pandemic, and her ideas on ageing have been exacerbated by the arrival of the menopause. In lockdown, preoccupied by the passage of time, she determined to have a look at the moon each night time: “I thought of what number of moons I’ve obtained left to see. I used to be like, ‘We’re not right here for very lengthy – what are you going to go away behind?’”

Her ideas coalesced into her BBC Radio 4 collection Mortal, which tackled beginning, life, dying and the afterlife. Working with BBC Radio Theatre, the place she’d beforehand recorded standup, she determined to attempt one thing completely different. Whispered monologues, surreal characters (Zeus, the Grim Reaper and useless Bridget amongst them) and actual phone conversations are stitched collectively into one thing fairly intimate. Though she obtained their permission, she didn’t inform her dad, sister Eileen and buddy Ashley precisely when she’d be recording their telephone calls, lending a naturalness to the chats.

One poignant dialog was about her nephew Luke, who tragically died younger. “The stakes have been excessive,” she says, “as a result of I needed to get it proper for my sister. I felt fairly anxious.” On the night time it went out, the stress induced a “correct, full-on sizzling flush”. Luckily, Eileen beloved it.

‘Why do I have to be pleasant and approachable – you’d by no means say that to Mark Thomas’ … Christie again on stage. {Photograph}: Claire Haigh

Her new present Who Am I? picks up these threads. I’m instructed to anticipate “menopause and dying”. Opposite to her expectations, Christie skilled the menopause as a rebirth, a deliverance even. “Worry has stopped me from doing quite a bit – interviews, water slides, calling individuals out, sure sorts of work,” she says. “I’ve come out of lockdown feeling way more assured, caring much less about issues which have plagued me all through my life. I really feel liberated. I don’t really feel slowed down worrying about how I’m perceived.”

She purchased a motorcycle for her fiftieth birthday, the primary she’s ridden since she was a youngster, with recommendation and encouragement from ladies’s biking group VC London and the ex she used to experience with. “They have been like, ‘If not now, when?’” She determined to cease losing time on pointless family duties – descaling the bathe head, discovering the right lids for Tupperware – that go unnoticed by everybody else, and began talking her thoughts.

There are “horrifying” bodily signs – reminiscence loss, coronary heart palpitations and sizzling flushes – which she briefly thought may be indicators of dementia or most cancers, however psychologically the menopause has been a revelation. “It’s staggering to me how little I knew, how little society is aware of,” she says. “There’s an enormous hole in info. Like on TV, there are not any menopausal characters. We don’t see ourselves anyplace and I wish to see us sweating or struggling to think about a phrase. It ought to be seen. Why not?”

So Christie is taking over the problem. Within the present’s opener, she performs with cliches of the indignant, forgetful lady – harnessing her newfound fearlessness. Typically it’s wanted. Whereas ladies in comedy face much less hostility than they used to, Christie nonetheless sees issues. “I feel the viewers doubt us extra – there’s much less belief.” Embracing anger has additionally helped. “The additional anger you get motivates you to do issues. Feminine anger is an effective factor. It may be revolutionary.”

Prior to now, she says, individuals have prompt she must smile extra, make her feminism accessible. “Why the fuck do I have to be pleasant and approachable?” she says. “You’d by no means say that to Mark Thomas. With this present, there’s an enormous change in how I wish to carry out it. I discover indignant ladies actually humorous and really you continue to don’t see that quite a bit in movie, TV or standup.” Such double requirements are one other theme of the present. Why, she asks, do highly effective males not often face penalties for actions that might get ladies fired or ostracised?

Throughout the street from this churchyard is Clissold Park, the place Christie usually runs, and the place a key story from Who Am I? takes place. “It occurred in there,” she says, pointing to a wooded space. “It was 11 o’clock within the morning. There have been individuals round. He was a younger, tall, white man. He did have the largest penis I’ve ever seen. He was simply standing there in profile, like that!” She stands out her arm for instance his erection.

‘I want to be a cheerleader for the menopause’ … Christie.
‘I wish to be a cheerleader for the menopause’ … Christie. {Photograph}: Alicia Canter/The Guardian

Whereas she laughs about this flashing incident now, when she first began shaping it into materials, she feared the subject may be too darkish. However ultimately, that’s what spurred her to apply it to stage. “I’m seeing his penis on a regular basis,” says Christie. “That’s going to stick with me, and I’m aggravated about that. However you’ll be able to add to it. How can a horrible factor be amusing? As a result of it’s a horrible factor. However I’m a comic.”

In a really enjoyable and really visible piece of comedy, she imagines what would occur if the state of affairs was flipped. “How can I alter the facility dynamic? As a result of it’s all about energy. He needed me to have a response.” The anecdote permits a easy segue to comic Louis CK, whose “comeback” tour after admitting to sexual misconduct coincides with Christie’s exhibits. She says: “He’s doing large rooms, a lot larger than me. If it had been me masturbating in entrance of somebody, would I be? In all probability not.”

Christie places herself within the footwear of one other comic, Ricky Gervais, in addition to Boris Johnson, whose “lies” she doesn’t have time to listing in full. “The lies are, to me, staggering,” she says. “If Boris was a girl, he wouldn’t be in a job any extra.” Gervais, in the meantime, receives her ire for his efforts to be an “edgy” comic, and his use of transphobic tropes (“I’ve all the time recognized as a chimp,” he says in Humanity). “It’s the identical joke time and again,” she says. “Or some joke about bathrooms. Simply let individuals go to the fucking bathroom.”

Some comedians efficiently parody all that, she says, however his declare to humour is undermined by his lack of a constant onstage persona, the “cowardly wink on the viewers”, claiming to be courageous for saying these items when the fact is: “Nobody is being cancelled. You’ll be able to actually say no matter you want.”

‘If not now, then when?’ … Christie on her Triumph.
‘If not now, then when?’ … Christie on her Triumph. {Photograph}: Alicia Canter/The Guardian

In Who Am I? there are echoes of A Bic for Her, which earned her the 2013 Edinburgh comedy award. Highlights included a takedown of sexist racing driver Stirling Moss and an uncanny impression of Russell Model. It was hailed because the breakthrough standup comedy wanted, prompting headlines equivalent to: “Why feminism has by no means been so humorous.” It was “shocking” that it was so effectively acquired, she says: “As a result of a couple of of us had been doing feminist materials and it had been troublesome. Audiences and critics didn’t actually prefer it.” Did she really feel that present made a big effect? “No, no, no!” She laughs in horror. “Under no circumstances!”What does she hope her comedy affords individuals? “One: that they snigger.” She pauses. “If I might do one factor in a present that takes individuals out of themselves – only one second – I’d be actually blissful. However then it will be nice if, as soon as they’ve left, they …” One other pause. “No, I don’t assume I can hope for individuals to assume in another way about one thing, as a result of I don’t assume that’s my job actually.”

Nonetheless, speaking concerning the menopause is clearly going to have an effect. “I wish to be a cheerleader for it. I don’t need younger ladies to dread it and assume, ‘That’s it.’ It’s a brand new stage of their lives and that ought to be one thing to have a good time.” However she did debate whether or not to say ‘menopause’ within the present’s publicity. “I used to be pondering, ‘Will that have an effect on who comes?’” She determined to go all in: the menopause will, she factors out, have an effect on “one-in-one ladies”, whereas fathers, sons, companions and buddies will not directly expertise it too. Christie has already been pleasantly shocked by, “bunches of younger males actually, actually laughing”. She thinks she is aware of a part of the rationale why. “It’s as a result of I’m their mum, aren’t I? They’re laughing as a result of they recognise it.”

She talks once more about her newfound confidence. “Popping out of lockdown and beginning to do gigs once more, I really feel there’s actually nothing I’d be embarrassed about. I do assume my finest work is forward of me. Now that I’m unencumbered by oestrogen, I’m excited for the longer term.”

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