Bridget Christie on election shocks, Brexit and why you'll find her show funny however you voted
PUBLISHED: 15:47 09 June 2017 | UPDATED: 15:47 09 June 2017
The Brexit vote so shocked the quirky, quick-witted and irreverent award-winning comedian that she ditched her planned show to write another which she is bringing to Norwich.
Whichever way you voted in last June’s European Union referendum, the Brexit result was seismic – no more so than for comedian Bridget Christie.
Stunned by the outcome, she decided to ditch the show she was preparing to take to the Edinburgh Fringe last year and – almost overnight – write a new one about Brexit.
Because You Demanded It was the result - which received rave reviews and sold out its entire run - and now she is touring an expanded and updated version of the show, which she brings to Norwich Playhouse on June 12.
“It was a huge moment in politics,” says the Gloucester-born comic of the EU vote, “and it would have felt like a real failure on my part not to talk about it. I was gutted, but I needed to make sense of it. Lots of people I know voted Leave....”
But although she herself is a fervent Remainer, Bridget doesn’t want to preach to the converted – she has deliberately on the tour been playing dates in several towns that voted firmly to Leave - and wants Leave voters to come along too. “More than any other show I’ve done,” she says, “this one has been the most divisive, in terms of audience reaction.”
Quirky, quick-witted and irreverent, Christie is avowedly on the left of politics, though she made the leap into becoming a critically acclaimed stand-up after previously been a showbiz diary hack on the Daily Mail.
She is a walking bundle of contradictions, an actor turned stand-up who doesn’t think she’s very funny and claims “not to be sociable” but is a natural raconteur.
“I don’t know what right and left means any more, and Brexit has changed everything, the way we talk about politics, the way it’s reported,” she says. “I might find myself agreeing on the EU with somebody whose views on everything else I hate, then I’ll read an article or see someone ‘from the left’ who I’ve always agreed with, that’s pro-Leave, and I think, ‘How can you possibly think that?’ Nothing is clear-cut any more. And even my core audience – lefty, feminist, Guardian-reading – is split, and that’s a reflection of broader society.”
In 2005, Christie was nominated for the Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year. At the after party, she first met fellow comedian Stewart Lee, and the pair were married just over a year later.
She won the 2013 Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Award for her passionately political show attacking everyday sexism, A Bic for Her. Her follow-up, An Ungrateful Woman was equally superb. She has also written the critically acclaimed bestseller, A Book For Her, a feminist polemical memoir.
But if you think a show about Brexit may be a bit heavy-going, fear not. Bridget is an entertaining host who leavens the passionate discourse with much faux outrage, and the show is full of playful mockery.
As well as the EU-exit the show it covers all sorts of subjects from the BBC and Ladybird books to parenthood and experts - and even King Charles II gets a mention.
It has expanded since its Edinburgh outing. “So much more has happened since the vote, including the growth of the “alt-right” and Donald Trump’s election, and obviously I needed to update it. I also talk more about Nigel Farage than I did in Edinburgh,” the comic says drily.
Is there a message in the show? “No, not really, not intentionally, anyway,” she responds. “I just write about what I’m interested in and passionate about. I do enjoy the challenge of trying to talk about serious or important things in a funny way, though. I’m very interested in that process. It’s like a puzzle you have to work out. So there isn’t a message as such, but I did want the show to be a reminder of who did what and why during the campaign. Anyway, if people agree with me, then great, but equally it’s important to engage with differing views. I want the audience to leave the show laughing and upbeat.”
The blurb for the show, she explains, is: “If you didn’t want to leave the EU, or you did, but now don’t, then this is absolutely the show for you. If you did want to leave the EU you will still find it funny, but for different reasons, as you witness the liberal female comedian’s exasperated and despairing meltdown.”
The show she had planned to do last year – which she had started previewing before the EU vote, and which may see life in 2018 - was inspired by American surgeon Atul Gawande’s book Being Mortal, and is her reflection on death, dying and the possibility of an afterlife.
More light comedy then? Bridget laughs: “I just thought there may be a show in all of that – in something we’re all facing but we don’t really talk about. I thought I might be able to make it funny. But then the Brexit vote came and death sort of became irrelevant.”
• Bridget Christie: Because You Demanded It, Norwich Playhouse, June 12, 8pm, £16, 01603 598598, www.norwichplayhouse.co.uk