Bridget Christie & Isy Suttie: ‘Once she shook me by the shoulders and said, ‘You’re not happy with this guy!”
Isy Suttie, 37
An actress, stand-up and musician, Suttie (right in picture) got her breakthrough role as Dobby in ‘Peep Show’. She lives with her partner and their 13-month-old daughter, Beti, in south London
I first met Bridget in 2003, maybe 2004, at an open-mic gig in Clapham, above a pub, with very few people in the audience. I liked a joke she told about being on a fairground ride and thinking she saw her dad, but it wasn’t her dad, it was a TV set. I told her how much I laughed at it, and we got on really well after that.
We started seeing each other regularly on the circuit, but I never felt competitive with her. To be honest, I don’t think I felt confident enough in myself to be competitive with anyone; it was just nice to have a friend doing what I was doing. We were young back then, no ties, no kids, so we would have drunken nights in town and end up at Balans [a café/restaurant in Soho] at three in the morning. We can’t do that now, as we both have kids. Which is a shame. Not that we have kids, but that we don’t have as much time to hang out.
I wish I’d met her at school; she’d have been such a laugh, and I’m sure we’d have been inseparable. She seems to think I’d have been a bad influence on her.
One of the reasons I really love her is that she is always completely honest, and wise. If you ask her opinion, she’ll give it – as long as she thinks you can take it. Not about my set, though; I’m talking about private, life stuff. I was with a guy once who was completely wrong for me, but I tried to convince myself he was right. One night, in the middle of Soho, she took me by the shoulders and physically shook me. “You are not happy with this guy, and I can see it!” she said. She was right, of course, and it finally propelled me to do something about it. That was kind of her, though she was probably just sick and tired of having to listen to me go on and on about it.
When we do meet up, we never really talk about our relationships, we just take the piss, giggle and clutch at each other. I think we’re probably quite childlike, and even though she is older than me, she doesn’t feel it, or look it.
Our relationship these days is mostly on the phone. Even though Beti is one now, I’m still pretty bad at leaving Crystal Palace. So we ring each other and miss each other’s calls and leave messages, before we finally do get to talk. We just have to take the opportunity to meet up wherever it falls. I was invited on to a radio show at the Edinburgh Festival this year, and it was the first time I’d left the baby overnight. I went mostly because I knew Bridget was there too. So basically I went all the way to Scotland for one night, mostly to see her. But it was worth it. It’s like drinking a shot when I’m with her. She’s wonderful
Bridget Christie, 44
A comedian who has won multiple awards, including the Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Award for her 2013 show ‘A Bic for Her’. Christie published her first book, ‘A Book for Her’, this year. She lives in north London with her husband and two children
It was 2004 when I met Isy for the first time, at a gig in Clapham neither of us can remember too much about. We only got to know each other properly after that, at the next gig in, I think, Shepherd’s Bush. I was always a bit of a loner on the circuit, so it was nice to meet someone I really connected with. You can have lots of mates in the comedy world, but Isy was always a proper, proper friend, and not just a comedy friend. There is a difference.
When you become friends with someone who does the same thing you do, and good things happen to them, while you are really pleased for them, a tiny part of you can be thinking: why didn’t I get that part? But I’ve never had that with Isy, and I think it’s because I genuinely love her, and feel sort of proud of her. I’m quite in awe of her talents, really. She’s a brilliant musician, actor, stand-up.
Oh, but I’m worried now that I’m sounding far too soppy about her! Can I say that she’s an annoying idiot as well? Our relationship is basically conducted over the phone because she stubbornly refuses to move to north London. I don’t know why she insists on living south; she may as well be in Wales.
So we talk on the phone, but she does have this habit of doing other things at the same time. I’ll say to her: “I don’t want you to eat while you’re talking to me, because it’s as if talking to me is just another activity you passively do.” Or else she might go to the loo, or paint a wall. I had to ask her recently if she was trimming her hedge.
In 2007, shortly after I had my son, we were trying to write sketches together. She said she’d come round to mine, and that we could bounce ideas off one another. I told her my son would be here, but she seemed fine with that. But then after half-an-hour she said, “My God, is it always like this?” She’s a mother herself now, so I hope she realises just how hard it is.
We’d love to work together again – we wrote a pilot once about the Brontës; it was brilliant, so God knows why it wasn’t commissioned – but I think it would be hard to act alongside her. I wouldn’t be able to look her in the eye without corpsing – she’s funnier than she realises.
Because we can’t even reach each other on the phone half the time, we’ve taken to leaving really long messages. Perhaps that’s the future of all relationships: don’t engage in conversation, just leave voicemails. When we do meet up, we always pick up where we left off. I saw her yesterday, the first time since August, and I was struck again by how much I enjoyed her company. She is such a tonic. She is just one of those people you always feel really happy and positive to be around.
Bridget Christie performs ‘A Book for Her’ at the Leicester Square Theatre, London WC2, on Saturday and 8 January. ‘The Actual One’, by Isy Suttie, is published by W&N on 28 January