What happens when you mix real issues and honesty with uplifting humour? You get one of Sofie Hagen’s shows! The Danish born comedian debuted her show, Bubblewrap, at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and won last year’s Edinburgh Newcomer Comedy Award. Aside from comedy Sofie also writes on her hilarious blog, thesofiehagenblog.com, and even hosts the podcast series, Comedians Telling Stuff.
We were lucky enough to get the chance to interview her ahead of her upcoming show Shimmer Shammer at the Slaughterhouse in Liverpool on the 30th of November:
What first made you want to pursue a career in comedy?
I think when I was a teenager and I was very depressed I remember the moment I discovered that comedy existed and it was such a mind-blowing thing- It was so relatable. I’ve laughed more at comedy than anything else in my entire life! So when I realised that you could do it as a serious job my mind was blown. I was like, ‘this is it, this is what I’m meant to do.’
How would you describe your style of comedy?
I never lie and everything’s true! It’s inclusive. It’s black at times; funny but not necessarily always fun. I talk about bad stuff such as mental health issues and society. So it’s deep and personal… very, very personal.
Is there anything or anyone that inspires your creativity?
In my life I’ll realise things, or things will happen to me, and whatever it is it will be in my mind constantly and then I have to share it. In this show, something happened and it made me realise that my body and my worth wasn’t dependent on how I looked and I kind of realised why women tend to hate their bodies and I didn’t realise how to get out of that. It was such a big part of that year and I decided to do a show about that. I think that’s how I write most of my shows- I have something that I really want to tell people, something that I would have loved to have known three years ago.
I’m a follower of your blog and really enjoy your articles on body image and feminism. Do you sometimes find it hard to be this open and talk about such topics on the internet?
Not really. I have in the past shared things that I wasn’t ready to share, but I quickly figured that out. I’ve done gigs a day after a break up- a mass break up- and I can feel on stage that I haven’t processed it yet and that I shouldn’t talk about yet for another year or so. I have a really good instinct about when I’m ready to talk about something. It takes a lot for me to really be scared. The more vulnerable and the more risk there is with sharing something the more comfortable I am with sharing it.
What can we expect from your upcoming show, ‘Shimmer Shatter’?
It’s mainly about anxiety and about me not really being able to function around people. I’ve never known how to do the small talk and I hate being in taxis, I hate being out amongst drunk people. I like being alone and don’t know how to speak to people without making a fool of myself. It’s about that and is for everyone who feels that way. If you’re a really extroverted person who loves going out every Saturday and Friday, it’s probably not the show for you. If you also feel weird and prefer to sit at home watching a film on a Saturday night then it’s a show you want to see.
I am aware that you have been trying to make your shows anxiety friendly. Do you believe that comedians and performers across the country should try to adopt these methods also?
I hope so! I only did it because I saw it in a band called Spooks School and they made all the toilets on their tour gender-neutral. I thought, ‘oh! I’ll do that too’. Then I realised there were a lot of other things that come in the way of people going to see a show, because I hate going out to see shows- it scares me! Hopefully someone will do the same in their next tour. I can only hope as it will make it easier for me to go see shows.
Have you suffered any culture shock being a Danish comedian in England?
I think it’s more the English people who have suffered the culture shock! In the first year or so, I didn’t know the social rules and rules of politeness. When people said, ‘how are you?’ I would say ‘I’m good’ and then nothing more because I didn’t want to [say it back] and seem like I was deflecting the question. I would tell them honestly how I was; ‘you know, I’m very stressed out and trying to pay my rent.’ People would be very awkward and weird [about my response]. And also your food! I’m so sorry but your food sucks. (We share a laugh as I agree with Sofie!)
Are there any differences in comedy there and here?
Only in the sense that your culture is a bit more restrained here- [British Comedy] doesn’t have racist, sexist or homophobic jokes…especially at the Fringe Festival or in theaters. If someone makes a really awful sexist joke the audience will usually respond in a negative way. We all know that it’s not okay, whereas it will still come up in Denmark and the audience will still be positive about that. I did a gig in Prague two days ago. There was a very, very white male comedian who did an impersonation of a Japanese person and it was the most painful thing I’ve ever seen but the audience loved it. That would never, never happen in the UK.
What advice would you give to those interested in comedy and blog writing?
I don’t know about the blog as for me, it’s always been a diary-thing. I’ve written diaries my whole life and it’s always been me needing to say things out loud. I’ve never done it because I’ve wanted followers or subscribers. I don’t know how to do it if you want traction but if you just want to write, write!
I have so much advice for those wanting to be a comedian. It’s hard. It’s really, really, really, really hard! It will take five years minimum before you start making any money. Never say no to stage time. You will bomb- you’ll bomb so much and that’ll never stop. It will always happen and it hurts. Dying on stage hurts more than dying in real life. You have to be tough but if you love it and you’re a comedian by heart, you can’t not fall. Then it’ll be the best thing you’ll ever do and it will change your life.
Every single comedian you see on TV or you see on stage, they have sweated through blood and tears. They would have done this even if they never made it; they would have kept doing five minute slots every night because they loved comedy. You can’t do it for money or fame. What’s so amazing about comedy is you can just do it! If you do it for money or fame, you’re fucked, basically.
Tickets for Shimmer Shammer are available now at http://www.sofiehagen.com/
For more of Sophie’s content visit:
Her Blog: https://thesofiehagenblog.com/