A Book for Her by Bridget Christie
10th Aug 2015
Christie has been working away on the comedy circuit for 12 years; this did not stop one male reviewer asking who she had slept with in order to get her show. She responded by pointing out “There isn’t a casting couch in standup comedy. There isn’t even a couch. That’s why we’re always standing up”. This humorous and direct dismantling of sexism and misogyny is what A Book for Her is all about.
Christie’s experiences on the comedy circuit form the skeleton of the book. She shows her early career is playing to small rooms, often with few people. These initial forays are an essential part of Christie’s learning and honing her comedy craft. She describes how being a woman adds an extra layer of challenge to being on stage alone. Disguising herself as an ant, and Charles II amongst others, so as not too alienate audiences; Christie asserts that dressing up to go on stage is easier for an audience to accept than seeing a woman up there doing comedy. This is because, she reasons, society through media images and messages is primed to see women as either sexual objects or vacuous idiots.
The aim of humour in the book is not to reduce the problems of female inequality to something to be laughed at, but rather it is to show how laughable the stances perpetuating these inequalities are. Skilfully melded in with this stand-up comedy bildungsroman is a chapter-by-chapter debunking of issues confronting female equality; labiaplasty, FGM, sexual objectification, anti-rape pants. This gives A Book for Her a very up to date, fresh feel, and perceptive. It’s definitely not a dry academic tome on the current state of feminism.
The aim of humour in the book is not to reduce the problems of female inequality to something to be laughed at, but rather it is to show how laughable the stances perpetuating these inequalities are. Christie’s blows these on to the page like bubbles, transparent and empty; before bursting them with her insightful wit. She wonders if, rather than someone inventing “anti-rape pants”, would it not “just be better if the rapists stopped raping?” and, “how am I supposed to pee when I’m wearing them?”
A Book for Her is not claiming to be a panacea for female inequality or oppression. Christie is making her contribution to the cause by using the skills she has: making people laugh. And what skills they are! Through her agile, shifting narrative, she blends comedy and ideology superbly, with a sense of humour that leaves the reader in no doubt about the ludicrousness of 21st century misogyny and sexism.