Award-winning comedian Bridget Christie has regularly appeared on television (Have I Got News For You, The Culture Show, amongst others) and radio such as The News Quiz, Loose Ends, and her own series Bridget Christie Minds The Gap. She has written for most of the UK’s broadsheet newspapers, and her debut stand-up special, Stand Up for Her (Live from Hoxton Hall), was released direct to Netflix last year making her the first British female stand-up on the streaming service.
In her most recent Radio 4 series, Bridget Christie’s Utopia, she finds herself troubled by both global and domestic turmoil, and attempts to find the solution to happiness in an ever chaotic world. Bridget brings her brand new show What Now? to Liverpool this weekend.
You’ve described What Now? as ‘a night of hope and despair’.
I did a show about Brexit [Because You Demanded It] and then the radio show about trying to not get bogged down in everything that’s happening immediately in my own day-to-day life. And to try and find a balance between knowing what is going on with climate change and political uncertainty and inequality and that sort of thing. And to try and also be happy. Because it can get overwhelming sometimes, I think. So the show is, ‘we’re here now, what shall we all do?’. It’s how I’m feeling quite anxious and paranoid and worried about what measures I’m taking to try and feel everything’s not lost. It’s an exaggerated version of how I feel, a bit more hysterical. Somebody having a meltdown.
We live in curious times. People are less secure about how they feel about things, and their place in the world.
Exactly! There’s no clear lines anymore of who’s on whose side [and] what the sides are. I think we are starting to unite a bit more after Brexit. The country felt extremely divided, [but] now as it’s dragged on and nothing seems to be happening… we’ve got all these other worries, massive worries, climate change, Trump and Putin and our own problems here. We have to sort out homelessness, the NHS, huge things in this country. I think people are starting to think, ‘let’s stop bickering now and try and get through it’.
But there’s so many, myself included, who feel politically homeless, they don’t know what is left or right wing anymore, or have had long held belief systems shattered. It adds to the uncertainty.
I’m trying to work out whether I’m having a mid-life crisis or if I’ve got the menopause coming or if my anxiety and problems are coming from me or the outside world. I think everybody’s having a mid-life crisis. And the country… God, it’s mad, everything at the moment.
It’s interesting that as a middle class, privileged white woman you’re wrestling with so many worries and problems. It doesn’t bode well for rest of us. Although I note you’ve been stressing your privilege up front…
I’m getting in there first. Everybody always says every time, ‘Oh god, another lefty white woman, what right has she got?’ Lily Allen always gets it in the neck because she’s got a nice car and she says, ‘It’s awful, the refugee crisis.’ People are going, ‘What are you talking about you’ve got a dishwasher?’! I’m just getting in there first, with everybody. Because I’m very well aware of how I come across and what people imagine me to be. Which is not really true. I don’t have an antique cigar cutter for example.
You could have one if you wanted though?
(Laughs) I haven’t got a huge selection of trivets. I’ve only got five.
Have you a huge selection of cigars though? This is the question we need the answer to.
I think that’s a universal thing, that we all feel guilty about not doing enough, and having stuff. I never ever thought I’d have a garden. I’ve lived in London since the late 80s, it was only when I was 42, 43, I started really earning money from comedy. I’ve got money now but I look at my garden and I think ‘oh god, most people don’t even have a terrace or a balcony’. My enjoyment of my own garden, I’ve got guilt about it. I think we’re all like that really and [the show is] accepting how flawed I am as a human being and how ineffectual and how lazy and how little I do to actually try and help the things that I’m complaining and whingeing and being scared about.
I haven’t accidentally kept saying this, I do mean to keep repeating it. I always assume that if I ever see any art or listen to a song, everything in it is deliberate and not an accident. But I think sometimes with comedy, people think that’s an accident that just happened. But most things are there for a reason.
You’ve said people don’t always get the embellishing and exaggerations, the creative aspects of writing the comedy you perform.
How boring would our comedy be if we couldn’t embellish the things people say. Our families they’re not as funny as us. If I repeated things my kids said it wouldn’t be funny. Anything that’s attributed to somebody else, I’ve usually just written. But it would have the essence of that person. If it’s the woman in the bakery, she hasn’t said this thing about a cupcake at all. But I imagine it might be something that she would say.
Your professional social media presence is almost non-existent. On your Twitter account you’ve played a masterstroke. One solitary tweet in December 2017, you follow no one yet you’ve got over 7k followers. Total genius.
I’m not on social media for lots of different reasons. I don’t want to have to feel I have to explain something I’ve written or said in any way, I don’t want to get into this back and forth thing. I want to have a part of my life that’s still mine. I do slightly worry about Twitter and Facebook, and who owns what and what then happens to the information. I’m a slightly paranoid person and I’m quite private. About three years ago i was getting a lot of hate and trolls and threats and things like that and I felt I didn’t want to engage in that. I didn’t want to have somewhere for people to come to.
But that means you haven’t been able to join in with the #MeToo and #TimesUp hashtags! They’ve made feminism trendy again. Or made it easier to be a feminist, anyway.
We’ve been having this conversation for about 400 years now. It’s such a weird sentence isn’t it? #Metoo has made feminism acceptable or trendy again. What is people’s problem? What don’t people understand about feminism…it’s basic. It’s equality and fairness. I don’t even know where to start. You’ve still got people like Piers Morgan saying it’s gone too far now. The hashtag metoo and timesup, what was that? October, November, after the whole Weinstein thing? By February, Piers Morgan was saying, can you stop going on about it now, why do you have to talk about it at the Oscars?
So on the one hand it has been incredibly inspiring and emboldening for millions of women around the world who have felt that they’ve had enough as well and they can tell their stories and that is amazing. It’s been great for the solidarity of women but I also think there is so much to do. You’re still getting journalists saying, ‘Can we compliment women now in the workplace?’ And you think really, oh… god. Two steps forwards and two steps back.
To be fair on Piers Morgan, John Humphries called a halt to it after about a week.
Well, John Humphries is another discussion, isn’t he. He also wants us to stop going on about the £350 million pounds that was promised for the NHS. No, let’s never ever stop going on about it. Millions of people believed that lie.
Is Brexit a part of the new show?
It’s not a massive part of it but it’s always here. Bubbling away.
Brexit’s like a spot you keep squeezing but it keeps filling up with pus again.
A massive boil! Everything’s in [the show]. I tried to write something that will appeal to lots of different types of people. There’s a bit of politics, there’s a bit of domestic stuff, there’s a bit about parenting, there’s a bit about what is truth. With the radio series it was ‘These are the things I’m worried about, is there a way of talking about these big issues in quite an accessible way?’ What is it to be a human, our relationships. What is important to us, how do I get through the day, what is it to be a parent, what do we really need and want? You can put all these things into wider context as well. That’s what I’ve tried to do. I’ve tried to write a lot of jokes as well (laughs)…I’m enjoying this show.
What Now? by Bridget Christie is at Liverpool Playhouse on Saturday 24th March.