Political comedy is supposed to be dead. Mark Thomas and Andy Zaltzman continue to fly the anti-establishment flag, but in these days of recession and world-weariness, most audiences want escapism, light laughs or maybe the odd dodgy lad joke. That’s the theory.
Thank heavens, then, for Bridget Christie. In her hour-long show at the Soho Theatre, “An Ungrateful Woman” , she revives the art of barbed social comment and the once moribund genre of feminist comedy. Her whole set unapologetically tears apart the attitudes towards and images of women which are prevalent today. But she’s no screaming agitator: Christie brings all her considerable charm and self-deprecation to bear on making her points. She’s not interested in lecturing us, but communicating.
There are two high points. Her first extended routine riffs on a Daily Mail article criticising her for not being grateful she’s not living under the Taliban (hence the title). Stalked down a dark street, she thanks her follower for being a decent, British harasser, picks up some Union Jacks and waves them at him as she’s chased along, showering him with her gratitude.
Then she tells of her experience of a casting for a yoghurt commercial. Finding that the scene involves a man inside her fridge, she holds up the audition by questioning her scripted deadpan lines when she has no knowledge of who he is. Is this leading up to consensual sex or rape? Serious issues, explored in an absurd context. Her masterful build up had the audience eating out of the palm of her hand (though the yoghurt remained untouched).
Christie’s a great storyteller rather than a joke-maker. Her style may be nothing new but her approach is fresh and funny. Only sticking point: was she really right to get so upset at a man farting in a women’s bookshop? But she’s partly laughing at herself, so I was happy to let her get away with it.