Sarah Millican chats to Bridget Christie about awards, daft costumes, feminism and a dodgy toenail.
Photograph by Idil Sukan
Bridget Christie has always been one of the funniest people I know – brilliantly original and often awesomely daft. I once stood backstage beside Ruth Bratt who had a fake roast chicken strapped to her head and Bridget was dressed as Jason the War Donkey. We were all going through our notes. Wonderfully bonkers. When Bridget won Edinburgh (you get the city as a prize), it was for her first blatantly feminist show (others had been veiled) and it was so deserved. I interrupted Bridget’s chockablock life with twenty (one) questions.
Sarah Millican: How do you feel about sudden recognition given that you’ve been slogging away being brilliant for years?
Bridget Christie: Well, there are a great many standups who are much better than me and have been slogging away for longer than I have and never get any recognition whatsoever, so while it’s flattering to that old devil – the tiresome and indefatigable Mr Ego Fancy Pants – it’s important to keep things in perspective. I was picked out for some reason, so they’re talking about me for a bit. It’ll be someone else soon and then I’ll be old comedy meat. You’re only as good as your last show. Those folks doing all the recognising will be quick to urinate onto your self-congratulatory bonfire should you be tempted to phone your next show in. Keep your head down, and your eye on the ball. Head down. Ball.
SM: Your show A Ant was feminist but it was A Bic for Her that made everyone sit up and listen. What do you think changed?
BC: I think not being dressed as an ant helped. It probably alienated a lot of people, especially those that didn’t see a lot of live comedy. And those that did see a lot of live comedy.
SM: Who’s your favourite feminist?
BC: It would be very unsisterly to pick one out. There are too many that I admire and who inspire me for so many different reasons I’m afraid I don’t have time to go through all of them one by one and talk about how they have individually inspired me. I suppose I’ll have to say YOU!
SM: *blushes* Shucks, thanks! Where do you write? Describe it to me.
BC: I write everywhere, all the time. I always have a pen and a pad in my bag, by my bed, near the toilet etc etc. The bulk of my writing though is done in my office at home, but then of course I work stuff out on stage too. I work on a desk that was left by the nice man who lived in the house before. I have three proper writing days, when I drop the kids off at school/nursery and try to get down to business and not be interrupted too much by admin (I book most of my own gigs), and then I do the rest when I can, whenever I can.
SM: You and Caitlin Moran helped turn my feminist alarm up to the max. Did someone or something turn yours up?
BC: Did we? Wow, that’s great! There are so many people who’ve turned my alarm up. The ones that jump immediately to mind are Kat Banyard, Mary Wollstonecraft, Virginia Woolf, Natasha Walter, Naomi Wolf, Emily Wilding Davison and millions of others. Those are just the ones that I thought of first.
SM: You’ve just been on tour. What are you like on the road? Do you travel lightly? How are you in a hotel?
BC: Yes, I travel lightly. I stay in Premier Inns. I don’t enjoy touring much to be honest and find it lonely.
SM: How do you wind down? In fact, do you at all?
BC: I don’t wind down I’m afraid. Not at the moment. I’m either working, or I have the kids. I’m sure I’ll have a lot more time for myself in the near future though. I’m not complaining – I’m lucky to be in work and to have cute kids.
SM: How do you define success?
BC: Selling tickets and doing work I’m not embarrassed about.
SM: What were you like as a kid?
BC: Fat and jolly and a good listener but with a very bad temper.
“I personally think my ant act – which was a metaphor for women in comedy – was funnier and better than my act now, which is basically the ant without the costume and metaphor, but it was too alienating and ridiculous for most people.”
SM: What brings you the most joy?
BC: My children.
SM: And what makes you angry?
BC: Almost everything.
SM: What are friends for?
BC: I don’t know. I haven’t heard from any of them for years.
SM: Who inspires you?
BC: Millions of people. At the moment though I’m in awe of Dame Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Officer for England. I heard her on a radio documentary once. Incredible woman.
SM: What’s the best advice you’ve ever had?
BC: If people hate what you do, do what you do even more.
SM: What’s your favourite photograph? (And please can we see it?)
Photograph by Claudia Wass
BC: This photo was taken by Claudia Wass at either The Bloomsbury or Leicester Square Theatre; I can’t remember which one now. I personally think my ant act – which was a metaphor for women in comedy – was funnier and better than my act now, which is just basically the ant without the costume and metaphor, but it was too alienating and ridiculous for most people. I do understand why people were suspicious of the act: it was an unknown woman, dressed as an ant, shouting about how ant comedians were treated on the circuit. It was too much of an in-joke. Anyway, I’ve not completely sold out, I’m still talking about the things I want to talk about, just in a more conventional way than I used to. I’m still finding my own voice and trying to work it all out, really. There’s still something not quite right, for me at least. In being myself, I think there’s something missing. Whether it’s to do with the writing or performing, I don’t know, but if I keep going, I’m sure I’ll find it. So I love this photo because I was in a transitional period between the silly stuff I had always done, without meaning, to material about stuff. And I like the light on the goggles too.
SM: Where did you go on your favourite holiday?
BC: Florence. It was amazing.
SM: What can’t you live without?
BC: Oxygen. And coffee.
SM: Which song could be used to soundtrack your life so far?
BC: I don’t know, I hate all music and never listen to it.
SM: What’s always on your ‘to do’ list that you never get round to doing?
BC: Sorting out the nail on the little toe of my right foot.
SM: What would you like to erase from your past?
BC: You’ve just brought up a terrible thing…
SM: What’s next for you?
BC: My second radio series is out in January, then I need to finish my book by the end of March, do my Soho Theatre run, start thinking about what to do for Edinburgh 2015 and try to get some other projects under way.
SM: Thanks Bridget.
Bridget Christie Minds the Gap is on every Thursday in January 2015 at 6:30pm on BBC Radio 4.
An Ungrateful Woman will be performed at Soho Theatre, London from March 2-6 and then May 8-23. For information and booking details, click here.
Sarah Millican is a comedian, writer, reformed workaholic, feminist, cat and dog mam, wife and lover of food.