All fired up for her Galway show, Bridget Christie tells LAUREN MURPHYhow her new routine War Donkey was inspired by Col Gadafy blaming his downfall on donkeys
WHEN YOU grow up as the youngest of nine children, explains Bridget Christie, choosing a career like comedy – where holding the attention of a crowd is paramount – is down to more than mere providence. “There was a game, actually, called ‘Ignore Bridge’ and another one called ‘Spy on Bridge’, and because no one would listen to what I was saying, I remember doing increasingly more absurd things to try to get peoples’ attention. But everyone was like that, actually – all my brothers and sisters. My brother jumped off a roof once with an umbrella, because he thought he’d float. We used to do things like that all the time. It was,” she says of her formative years in Gloucester with a soft, wheezy chuckle, “a very interesting childhood.”
The large number of children makes sense when you learn that the bubbly, cheerful Christie is the product of an Irish Catholic upbringing. With a mother hailing from Manorhamilton, Co Leitrim, and a father from Boyle, Co Roscommon, her enduring faith formed the basis of last year’s Surrealist Housewife show.
The route taken to crafting her new show War Donkey, on the other hand, was less linear. Inspired by a newspaper article about Col Gadafy blaming donkeys for his downfall. It was around the time that Spielberg’s adaptation of War Horse was released. She thought there was a lot of emphasis on horses during wars, but not enough on donkeys. The show – written half in character as a retired war donkey named Jason who is now working as a stand-up – is indicative of Christie’s surrealist stance. In the past, she has dressed up as human-sized ant – reprising the character for a recurring role on Harry Hill’s Little Internet Show.
Yet, there’s only so far a show about donkeys will take you. Equine war stories and feminism aren’t usually thematic bed- fellows, but Christie stumbled across the concept almost by accident. “I really quickly realised that there was only really about 10 minutes in the idea, not an hour,” she laughs. “Or 10 funny minutes, anyway – the rest was all a bit grim. So, I’d do that piece at the beginning, and the other 50 minutes would be about women’s issues. I consciously avoided gender-specific material in the past, because it’s not something that I ever thought I would do – until four things happened to me on the same day, and they really shocked me, actually. And I started noticing more and more things in daily life, and it got me thinking about where we are at the moment.”
The “women in comedy” debate is touched upon during the show, too. “I can’t open a paper without seeing something about the ‘are women funny?’ debate,” she nods. “I mean, Germaine Greer got into a lot of trouble a while back, when she said in The Guardian that women weren’t funny because they couldn’t remember punchlines.