Bridget Christie opens her new show with a quip: she has written a show about feminism that’s on in the early morning, she says, as part of an elaborate plan to begin winding down her career as a comedian. Although the anxiety behind the joke is understandable, The Stand is packed with people, and will remain full for the rest of her sold-out run.
Her ability to draw such a large crowd speaks to her tenacity as a performer, but there’s also a palpable buzz surrounding this particular show; a wider feeling that the unapologetically feminist stand-ups like Christie are gaining more traction with the public.
A Bic for Her addresses sexism and misogyny through various comedic means. Christie is at her funniest during the first half, which contains a hilariously drawn-out routine about Stirling Moss, the ex-Formula 1 driver who recently said that he doubted women’s mental aptitude for racing. The show also contains one of the most politically potent uses of audience interaction that I have seen.
There is a strong connection between Christie’s politics and her performance style. She frequently makes a point of explaining to the audience that she has thrown caution to the wind and kept the less-successful jokes in the show. Although she attributes this to her personal fondness for the material, she also makes it clear that she doesn’t expect every comment she makes has to have the entire audience in stitches: if just one person laughs at the joke, it stays.
At first this made it seem as if she was making excuses for deficiencies in the material, but this approach actually fits with her ethos. The need to amuse as many individual audience members as possible can dilute an act. Puerility and profanity remain integral parts of a comedian’s toolkit and sexism is also often used as a source of cheap laughs. Ideologically, Christie’s show is an impassioned and intelligent riposte to misogyny in all spheres, which defies the indulgence of populism and instead opens up a space for individual, subjective responses to her material.
As A Bic for Her progresses the laughs diminish, but by this stage the audience is wholly in Christie’s pocket. Watching her skewer the notion that Beyonce Knowles is some kind of feminist icon was particularly satisfying. Yet while it’s certainly an encouraging sign that Christie has been nominated for a major comedy award, it’s the sort of thing which is ascribed too much significance by commentators. Far more exciting is the experience of being accosted by people flyering outside The Stand, who asked me if I was interested in “more feminist comedy”, a hopeful sign for live comedy on a number of levels.