6th May 2017
This review was originally written for The Reviews Hub and published here.
I love Bridget Christie’s skit of Russell Brand. Early on in her set, speeding off on a sideways train of thought, the award-winning comic starts to sashay and stride around the stage like an extra from a Ministry of Silly Walks sketch. Knees flailing and arms akimbo, she hams up an East End accent and strings lots of long words together without saying very much. Somehow a long interlude of Brand-ism is all the funnier for the fact that the mockney lothario isn’t especially relevant anymore.
She apologises for talking about Brand, “but he makes me laugh”. This sense that Christie is just talking about whatever she fancies, jumping from topic to topic on a whim, is the mark of a skilful and experienced comedian. She’s making it look easy to string together a comedy show from a pile of disparate elements: feminism, gardening, tattoo parlours, the EU.
In actual fact, it’s masterful, even if we’re initially confused by the structure of this Brexit-themed show. Christie’s first half is barely 30 minutes long and contains hardly any references to the EU at all. The second half is a series of Brexit tirades, taking in her Leave-voting family, imbalanced media coverage, Tory backstabbing, and (yes) that infamous red bus. But it all links together beneath the surface, with threads of thought connecting the interlocking series of rants and jokes so that Christie has tied everything together by the end.
A show about Brexit is guaranteed to be controversial. Though Christie tries to balance her Remain-voting tendencies with some understanding of the other side, and makes the excellent point that nobody got what they wanted out of the referendum or its result, nonetheless this is probably a show for Remain backers and only the most open-minded or repentant of Leavers. Fans of Cameron, Farage, Gove, or May should definitely look elsewhere for their comedy: Christie eviscerates them all in their own separate ways. (The perfectly timed four-letter punchline about Farage and the wide-eyed rant about May are particularly good.)
Because You Demanded It originated at the Edinburgh fringe last year, when Brexit was still shiny and new, and Christie has kept up with developments since then, seamlessly weaving up-to-date material into the show. It’s all one big catalogue of sarcasm and rage. The segment where she responds to Brexit heckles that she herself has made up, chiding the audience when they try to join in for real, is self-referential comic trickery at its funniest. It’s almost as clever as the moment when an anecdote about a disgruntled audience member from years ago, disgusted at the very sight of Christie, turns on its heel to become a metaphor about both the EU and the show we’re watching tonight.
However, the funniest thing about Christie’s show isn’t what she says about the referendum, the Leave vote or the EU itself. Not that she doesn’t make some good points: most of them cover well-trampled ground by now, but even the most politically jaded can appreciate the message when she makes a touching gardening parallel with the story of her late mother’s fuschia plant. But the real joy (and the most riotous laughter) comes from Christie’s impassioned performance: her full-bodied impressions and sardonic feminist rants, the anecdote that turns into a back-and-forth with herself about fish, and of course that Russell Brand skit. She gives it all to us with powerful stage presence and irrepressible energy. Sharing genuine opinions and justified frustrations, yet never ceasing to entertain with her wide-ranging and hilarious ideas, Christie is a comic force to be reckoned with.
Star rating: **** Irrepressibly funny