‘I should inform you how outdated I’m going to be after I die,” says Bridget Christie, whipping out her telephone to point out me a small cartoon headstone bearing the date of her demise. Fittingly, we’re sitting in a churchyard close to her house in London, not removed from some precise gravestones. In accordance with the app, Christie, who just lately turned 50, has 34 years left. As one of many many individuals who misplaced family members to Covid-19, loss of life has been on her thoughts through the pandemic, and her ideas on ageing have been exacerbated by the arrival of the menopause. In lockdown, preoccupied by the passage of time, she determined to take a look at the moon each night time: “I thought of what number of moons I’ve bought left to see. I used to be like, ‘We’re not right here for very lengthy – what are you going to go away behind?’”
Her ideas coalesced into her BBC Radio 4 series Mortal, which tackled beginning, life, loss of life and the afterlife. Working with BBC Radio Theatre, the place she’d beforehand recorded standup, she determined to attempt one thing totally different. Whispered monologues, surreal characters (Zeus, the Grim Reaper and lifeless Bridget amongst them) and actual phone conversations are stitched collectively into one thing fairly intimate. Though she bought their permission, she didn’t inform her dad, sister Eileen and good friend Ashley precisely when she’d be recording their telephone calls, lending a naturalness to the chats.
One poignant dialog was about her nephew Luke, who tragically died younger. “The stakes had been excessive,” she says, “as a result of I wished to get it proper for my sister. I felt fairly anxious.” On the night time it went out, the stress induced a “correct, full-on scorching flush”. Thankfully, Eileen cherished it.
Her new present Who Am I? picks up these threads. I’m instructed to anticipate “menopause and loss of life”. Opposite to her expectations, Christie skilled the menopause as a rebirth, a deliverance even. “Concern has stopped me from doing quite a bit – interviews, water slides, calling folks out, sure kinds of work,” she says. “I’ve come out of lockdown feeling way more assured, caring much less about issues which have plagued me all through my life. I really feel liberated. I don’t really feel slowed down worrying about how I’m perceived.”
She purchased a motorcycle for her fiftieth birthday, the primary she’s ridden since she was a youngster, with recommendation and encouragement from girls’s biking group VC London and the ex she used to experience with. “They had been like, ‘If not now, when?’” She determined to cease losing time on pointless family duties – descaling the bathe head, discovering the right lids for Tupperware – that go unnoticed by everybody else, and began talking her thoughts.
There are “scary” bodily signs – reminiscence loss, coronary heart palpitations and scorching flushes – which she briefly thought is likely to be indicators of dementia or most cancers, however psychologically the menopause has been a revelation. “It’s staggering to me how little I knew, how little society is aware of,” she says. “There’s a large hole in data. Like on TV, there are not any menopausal characters. We don’t see ourselves wherever and I wish to see us sweating or struggling to consider a phrase. It must be seen. Why not?”
So Christie is taking up the problem. Within the present’s opener, she performs with cliches of the indignant, forgetful lady – harnessing her newfound fearlessness. Typically it’s wanted. Whereas girls in comedy face much less hostility than they used to, Christie nonetheless sees issues. “I believe the viewers doubt us extra – there’s much less belief.” Embracing anger has additionally helped. “The additional anger you get motivates you to do issues. Feminine anger is an effective factor. It may be revolutionary.”
Up to now, she says, folks have instructed she must smile extra, make her feminism accessible. “Why the fuck do I should be pleasant and approachable?” she says. “You’ll by no means say that to Mark Thomas. With this present, there’s an enormous change in how I wish to carry out it. I discover indignant girls actually humorous and really you continue to don’t see that quite a bit in movie, TV or standup.” Such double requirements are one other theme of the present. Why, she asks, do highly effective males not often face penalties for actions that will get girls fired or ostracised?
Throughout the street from this churchyard is Clissold Park, the place Christie typically runs, and the place a key story from Who Am I? takes place. “It occurred in there,” she says, pointing to a wooded space. “It was 11 o’clock within the morning. There have been folks round. He was a younger, tall, white man. He did have the largest penis I’ve ever seen. He was simply standing there in profile, like that!” She stands out her arm as an instance his erection.
Whereas she laughs about this flashing incident now, when she first began shaping it into materials, she feared the subject is likely to be too darkish. However ultimately, that’s what spurred her to apply it to stage. “I’m seeing his penis on a regular basis,” says Christie. “That’s going to stick with me, and I’m irritated about that. However you may add to it. How can a horrible factor be amusing? As a result of it’s a horrible factor. However I’m a comic.”
In a really enjoyable and really visible piece of comedy, she imagines what would occur if the state of affairs was flipped. “How can I alter the ability dynamic? As a result of it’s all about energy. He wished me to have a response.” The anecdote permits a easy segue to comic Louis CK, whose “comeback” tour after admitting to sexual misconduct coincides with Christie’s exhibits. She says: “He’s doing large rooms, a lot greater than me. If it had been me masturbating in entrance of somebody, would I be? In all probability not.”
Christie places herself within the sneakers of one other comic, Ricky Gervais, in addition to Boris Johnson, whose “lies” she doesn’t have time to listing in full. “The lies are, to me, staggering,” she says. “If Boris was a lady, he wouldn’t be in a job any extra.” Gervais, in the meantime, receives her ire for his efforts to be an “edgy” comic, and his use of transphobic tropes (“I’ve all the time recognized as a chimp,” he says in Humanity). “It’s the identical joke time and again,” she says. “Or some joke about bogs. Simply let folks go to the fucking bathroom.”
Some comedians efficiently parody all that, she says, however his declare to humour is undermined by his lack of a constant onstage persona, the “cowardly wink on the viewers”, claiming to be courageous for saying this stuff when the truth is: “Nobody is being cancelled. You possibly can actually say no matter you want.”
In Who Am I? there are echoes of A Bic for Her, which earned her the 2013 Edinburgh comedy award. Highlights included a takedown of sexist racing driver Stirling Moss and an uncanny impression of Russell Model. It was hailed because the breakthrough standup comedy wanted, prompting headlines similar to: “Why feminism has never been so funny.” It was “shocking” that it was so properly obtained, she says: “As a result of a number of of us had been doing feminist materials and it had been tough. Audiences and critics didn’t actually prefer it.” Did she really feel that present made a big effect? “No, no, no!” She laughs in horror. “Under no circumstances!”What does she hope her comedy provides folks? “One: that they chuckle.” She pauses. “If I might do one factor in a present that takes folks out of themselves – only one second – I’d be actually completely satisfied. However then it could be nice if, as soon as they’ve left, they …” One other pause. “No, I don’t suppose I can hope for folks to suppose in a different way about one thing, as a result of I don’t suppose that’s my job actually.”
Nonetheless, speaking concerning the menopause is clearly going to have an effect. “I wish to be a cheerleader for it. I don’t need younger girls to dread it and suppose, ‘That’s it.’ It’s a brand new stage of their lives and that must be one thing to have fun.” However she did debate whether or not to say ‘menopause’ within the present’s publicity. “I used to be considering, ‘Will that have an effect on who comes?’” She determined to go all in: the menopause will, she factors out, have an effect on “one-in-one girls”, whereas fathers, sons, companions and pals will not directly expertise it too. Christie has already been pleasantly stunned by, “bunches of younger males actually, actually laughing”. She thinks she is aware of a part of the explanation why. “It’s as a result of I’m their mum, aren’t I? They’re laughing as a result of they recognise it.”
She talks once more about her newfound confidence. “Popping out of lockdown and beginning to do gigs once more, I really feel there’s actually nothing I might be embarrassed about. I do suppose my finest work is forward of me. Now that I’m unencumbered by oestrogen, I’m excited for the longer term.”