Actress Bridget Christie: “I see my turn signal penis all the time. But I can make horrible things fun ‘| To organise


‘I must tell you how old I will be when I die, ”said Bridget Christie, pulling out her phone to show me a little cartoon headstone with the date of her disappearance. Fittingly, we are sitting in a graveyard near his home in London, not far from some actual gravestones. According to the app, Christie, who just turned 50, is still 34 years old. As one of the many who have lost loved ones to Covid-19, death has been on her mind during the pandemic, and her thoughts on aging have been exacerbated by the onset of menopause. In confinement, concerned about the passing of time, she decided to look at the moon every night: “I thought about how many moons I still had to see. I was like, ‘We’re not here for very long, what are you going to leave behind?’ “

Her thoughts melted into her BBC Radio Series 4 Mortal, which addressed birth, life, death and the afterlife. While working with BBC Radio Theater, where she had previously recorded stand-up, she decided to try something different. Whispered monologues, surreal figures (Zeus, the Grim Reaper and Bridget dead among them) and real phone conversations come together into something quite intimate. Although she got their permission, she didn’t tell her father, sister Eileen, and friend Ashley exactly when she would be recording their phone calls, which lends a natural feel to the conversations.

A poignant conversation concerned her nephew Luke, who died tragically young. “The stakes were high,” she said, “because I wanted to do it right for my sister. I felt quite anxious. The night he died, the tension caused a “good, intense hot flush”. Fortunately, Eileen loved it.

“Why do I need to be friendly and approachable – you would never say that to Mark Thomas”… Christie back on stage. Photography: Claire Haigh

His new show Who am I? resumes these threads. I am told to expect “menopause and death”. Contrary to her expectations, Christie experienced menopause as a rebirth, even a deliverance. “Fear kept me from doing a lot of things – interviews, water slides, phone calls, certain types of work,” she says. “I came out of lockdown feeling a lot more confident, caring less about the things that have plagued me throughout my life. I feel liberated. I don’t feel bogged down in worrying about how I’m viewed.

She bought a motorcycle for her 50th birthday, the first she’s ridden since she was a teenager, with advice and encouragement from women’s cycling group VC London and the ex she rode with. “They were like, ‘If not now, when? She decided to stop wasting time on unnecessary household chores – descaling the shower head, finding the right covers for Tupperware – that go unnoticed by everyone, and started saying what she was thinking.

There are “frightening” physical symptoms – memory loss, heart palpitations, and hot flashes – that she briefly thought were signs of dementia or cancer, but psychologically, menopause was a revelation. “It’s amazing to me how little I knew, how little society knew,” she says. “There is a huge information gap. Like on TV, there are no menopausal characters. We don’t see each other anywhere and I want to see each other sweating or struggling to find a word. One needs to see it. Why not?”

Christie therefore takes up the challenge. In the show’s opening, she plays with snapshots of the angry and forgetful woman – exploiting her newfound fearlessness. Sometimes it is necessary. While women in comedy face less hostility than before, Christie still sees issues. “I think the public doubts us more – there is less trust.” Embracing the anger also helped. “The extra anger you feel motivates you to do things. Female anger is a good thing. It can be revolutionary.

In the past, she says, people have suggested she needs to smile more, make her feminism accessible. “Why do I need to be friendly and approachable? ” she says. ” You would like never tell that to Mark Thomas. With this show, there is a big change in the way I want to play it. I find angry women really funny and in fact you still don’t see them much in movies, on TV or on stand-up. These double standards are another theme of the show. Why, she asks, do powerful men rarely face consequences for actions that would result in the dismissal or ostracism of women?

Across from this cemetery is Clissold Park, where Christie often runs, and where a key Who Am I? takes place. “It happened in there,” she said, pointing to a wooded area. “It was 11 am. There were people around. He was young, tall and white. He had the biggest penis I have ever seen. He was standing right there in profile, like that! She stretches out her arm to illustrate his erection.

'I want to be a cheerleader for menopause'… Christie.
‘I want to be a cheerleader for menopause’… Christie. Photography: Alicia Canter / The Guardian

As she laughed at this lightning incident now, when she started turning it into material, she worried that the subject was too dark. But in the end, that’s what pushed her to use it on stage. “I see his penis all the time,” says Christie. “This is going to stay with me, and I’m annoyed about it. But you can add more. How can a horrible thing be fun? Because it’s a horrible thing. But I am an actor.

In a very funny and very visual comedy, she imagines what would happen if the situation were reversed. “How can I change the power dynamics? Because it’s all about power. He wanted me to have a reaction. The anecdote allows a smooth sequence with comedian Louis CK, whose “return” tour after confessing to sexual misconduct coincides with Christie’s shows. She says, “He makes massive pieces, much bigger than me.” If it had been me masturbating in front of someone, would I be? Probably not.”

Christie puts herself in the shoes of another actor, Ricky Gervais, as well as Boris Johnson, whose “lies” she does not have time to list. “Lies are amazing to me,” she said. “If Boris were a woman, he wouldn’t have a job. Gervais, meanwhile, gets his anger for his efforts to be an “edgy” comedian and his use of transphobic tropes (“I’ve always identified as a chimpanzee,” he says in Humanity). “It’s always the same joke,” she says. “Or a joke on the toilet. Let people go to the fucking toilet.

Some comedians successfully parody all of this, she says, but her pretense of humor is undermined by her lack of a cohesive character on stage, the “cowardly nod to the audience,” claiming to be brave to say these things. while the reality is, “No one is being canceled. You can literally say whatever you want.

'If not now, then when?'  … Christie on her Triumph.
‘If not now, then when?’ … Christie on her Triumph. Photography: Alicia Canter / The Guardian

In Who am I? there are echoes of A Bic for Her, which won him the Edinburgh Comedy Award in 2013. Highlights included a teardown of sexist racing driver Stirling Moss and an eerie impression of Russell Brand. It has been hailed as the groundbreaking stand-up comedy needed, sparking headlines such as: “Why Feminism Has Never Been So Funny.” It was’ surprising ‘that it was received so well, she said:’ Because a few of us had done feminist material and it had been difficult. The public and the critics didn’t really like it. Did she feel that this show had had a big impact? “No no no!” She laughs in horror. ” Not at all ! What does she hope her comedy offers people? “One: let them laugh.” She pauses. “If I could do one thing in a show that pulls people out of themselves – just a moment – I would be really happy. But then it would be nice if, once they were gone, they… ”Another pause. “No, I don’t think I can expect people to think anything differently, because I don’t think it’s really my job.”

Still, talking about menopause is clearly going to have an impact. “I want to be a cheerleader for that. I don’t want young women to dread it and think, “That’s it. It’s a new stage in their life and it should be something to celebrate. But she debated whether to mention “menopause” in the show’s commercial. “I thought, ‘Will this affect who comes? “” She decided to go all out: menopause will affect, she says, “a woman in one”, while fathers, sons, partners and friends will indirectly suffer it as well. Christie has once been pleasantly surprised by “lots of young men who are really, really laughing.” She thinks she knows part of the reason. “It’s because I’m their mom, isn’t it?” They laugh because they recognize him.

She talks about her newfound confidence. “Coming out of lockdown and going back to doing gigs, I feel like there’s literally nothing bothering me. I think my best work is in front of me. Now that I’m no longer bothered by estrogen, I’m excited for the future.


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