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Bridget Christie: A Ant

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Steve Bennett

You’ve heard of anti-comedians; now welcome the first anty-comedian.

Anyone seriously into their comedy simply has to witness the first few minutes of Bridget Christie’s show, as she takes to the stage as a stand-up who just happens to be an insect. Infuriated by the hackneyed Ant Music walk-on track her technician plays, she launches into a furious diatribe about how she’s pigeonholed by her phylum, not by her comedy.

Even more funny is to watch her die on her thorax. The majority of the audience gaze on baffled as the subtext and fantastic industry in-jokes go sailing over their heads, wondering what madness they have just spent £8 on.

Christie has spent most of her career on such artistic indulg-ants (sorry but the pained puns she insists on are infectious); raiding the dressing-up box and doing odd things for her own amusement, no matter what the audience reaction. But now a mother, needing to feed and clothe a toddler, she’s reluctantly come to the conclusion she need to be more accessible if she’s ever to earn a crust at comedy. Thus she sheds her antennae to launch into more conventional stand-up banter.

Even so, she seems in constant battle with the crowd, who don’t always buy into her stories about living in North London’s most liberal enclave of Stoke Newington with a grumpy husband and a cat she wanted to call Alan Palmer. Political stuff, seems an especially tough sell, as she forces ahead with Nick Clegg for selling out to the Tories and gets angry with author Toby Young about the free school he wants to set up in West London. She can assume too much knowledge of her audience, leaving them struggling to catch up, while her commentary on how she perceives the gig to be going maintains the a division between performer and observer, however good-naturedly she picks at it.

But there are some quirkily funny ideas and ambitious concepts here, especially the elegant mega-callbacks concerning Andrew Lloyd Webber and his Wikipedia page. And for all the struggle, the audience do warm to her. When she seems ready to abandon her plan to revive the ant for the epilogue, fearing the gig has been a disaster, spontaneous and heartfelt calls of ‘ant, ant, ant!’ go up. We like her, even if we sometimes find her challenging

The Fringe is a better place for having Christie on it, her bold show bringing a genuine touch of the alternative to an increasingly safe landscape. Even if the ride is still too bumpy for an outright recommendation, this show is the surest sign yet that she isn’t destined to remain condemned as ‘interesting’ rather than ‘funny’, as her finest moments hit highs of genuine brilliance.

Review date: 16 Aug 2010
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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