INTERVIEW: Bridget Christie | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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The first thing that becomes apparent when talking to Bridget Christie is that she is a thoroughly lovely individual.  My opening gambit was to offer congratulations for the plethora of awards she has won so far (more will surely come), but she wasn’t having any of it: “you can’t read too much into that, but it is nice to get them, but you have to think ‘ahh that’s really nice’ and move on”, and move on she did, joining a small number of comics with their own Netflix show.  This wasn’t a consequence of shiny objet d’art though, it was the result of an impressive live show, something we will be fortunate enough to witness at Gala Theatre, Durham on Saturday 21st April and The Stand, Newcastle on Monday 18th and Tuesday 19th June.

Having a sudden international audience must be quite a boon, but Bridget has her feet firmly on the ground, along with the pitter patter of smaller feet. “Because I’ve got small kids I’m not really planning to be an international act, so I’m not really in a position to capitalise on that, but it’s great to have a thing out there that you had control over, that wasn’t edited down to a six-minute bit or anything like that,” which to me is the sign of a true artist with integrity, it’s about the product, not the big bucks. Speaking of integrity, I wanted to know her feelings regarding the gender chasm, and whether it was narrowing.  She had two angles to her answer. “I think there are more women who are doing it now, and more successful visible women and so that’s helping a little bit, but I still don’t see opportunities at the top as much as I’d like to.  If we talk about Ricky Gervais and Dave Chapelle and all these guys getting $20m for those specials…I don’t know how much Sarah Silverman got for hers but I’m sure it wasn’t 20 million. [There are] opportunities for male comedians in TV and film, I’m not really seeing the same opportunities for women across the board at that level.”

comedy is like a microcosm of the rest of the world and its tiny little steps forward and then two steps back

She makes a very good point, with numbers come averages. There are so many male comedians that if we assume the percentage of good ones is equal to the percentage of good female ones then there will necessarily be many more men reaching the top. It’s simple statistics folks. The numbers are beginning to equalise, but until they do, excellent comedians like Bridget will continue to be asked inane questions (like mine). “The way women are talked about in the media, we’re still getting the same old dreary questions.  You would have thought we’d gone beyond that now, but oh no, even the Today programme will, I don’t go on anything anymore because I just can’t be bothered to deal with it, with an idiotic line of questioning.  It’s just not worth it.  ‘What’s the difference between men and women’ ‘Are women funny’ and ‘should women be on panel shows’ all that stuff, so in some ways it’s much better and in some ways I think it’s like with everything, comedy is like a microcosm of the rest of the world and its tiny little steps forward and then two steps back, and even with the hashtag #metoo and Time’s Up movement, it’s taken a long time to get to that point. It’s only a few months after the movement and you’ve got people like Piers Morgan saying ‘stop banging on about this at the Oscars’ and ‘has it gone too far?’ and you just think ARGH Christ.”

She has a second angle, that of the live show, which is a much rosier prospect. “In terms of the live circuit, and live shows, then I think it is getting better, I think attitudes are getting better. I absolutely do not get suspicious, wary looking audiences, whereas when I started you’d get ‘oh God, crikey, it’s a woman, what’s this going to be like?’ or they’d go to the bar or the toilet.  That definitely doesn’t happen, well, it might do, I can’t say it does or it doesn’t but it doesn’t to me anymore, but it might do to somebody else.”

During this last question, her eight-month-old kittens were pushing each other over, the tabby flooring the tortoiseshell in an awful parody of the answer she was giving (all tortoiseshells are female dontcha know).  I’ll be honest, we spent a long time chatting about her beloved felines. “There’s three siblings, one’s a big chunky ginger, a big chunky tabby, and a tiny tiny tiny tortoiseshell.  Apparently if you get them as kittens together they are fine, but if you get them as adults and they are not related then it can be a bit tricky.”  As a cat lover myself, this cat chat was in danger of derailing serious journalism, so I tried to spin it back around by asking whether cats are political (I know, but I really think they are), Bridget wasn’t so sure. “No.  Well you can make cats political, no I don’t know if you can actually, you could make them political, you could say that humans have domesticated them and is that morally right.  But I think they’re still pretty wild though aren’t they, unlike dogs, dogs are really domesticated.  Cats are so independent; I don’t think they really need me.  I think I need them more than they need me.  They’ve all come in here now…aww, so cute…” Cats don’t need you Bridget, they want to kill you. 

She is in a state of calm regarding her cats, but not so about Putin, Trump, and climate change, which, while less important than cats, do command a fair chunk of brain space for Bridget, and are worries that have spawned her current show, What Now? I asked her the obvious question. “It’s a follow on from the Brexit show and the radio series.  It’s kind of about my anxieties and that I’m becoming slightly paranoid and I’m not really sure what to believe anymore.  It’s about trying to navigate the current political climate and thinking about the future for the kids and how we can live better, that sort of thing.  How we can still enjoy the day-to-day without getting bogged down all the time in immediately criticising everything like the weather and problems with infrastructure and things like that, because it becomes a bit exhausting.” So perhaps we can put these macro-troubles on the back-burner from time to time and focus on the micro-joys, the things that really matter, like family, laughter, and cats. 

Bridget Christie brings her What Now? show to Gala Theatre, Durham on Saturday 21st April and The Stand, Newcastle on Monday 18th and Tuesday 19th June.

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