Interview with Sofie Hagen

Sofie Hagen takes some time to talk to Voice about the show, inspirations, and to give advice to young people.

Interview with Sofie Hagen

Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?

OH, HELLO READER. I don't know why I'm yelling. I assume you are far away from me when you read this. I am a 28-year old Danish stand-up comedian currently living in London, doing shows that are both too dark and too personal all at once.

How would you describe your show?

It's a show about the death of my grandfather. Only, he's not dead yet. So, if I had to pick an adjective, I'd say 'dark'. I talk about emotional abuse, resistance and resilience. And I try to make some jokes as well.

Why do you want to perform at Edinburgh Festival Fringe?

This sounds corny, but from the first breath I took at the Edinburgh Fringe, I knew I was going to have to spend every single August there. In Denmark, I was starved for comedy. One comedy club, four open mics… I craved comedy.

In Edinburgh, it's everywhere and all the time. It's my idea of heaven. So do to a show there and be part of it… It's magnificent.

What differentiates it from other festivals?

Edinburgh can and will break you. I remember my first year. I just sat down on some steps and started crying. A comedian saw me cry and sat down next to me to comfort me, but then started crying himself. We never spoke, we just cried next to each other. Then we both had to go and do our shows.

Do you think the Fringe has changed over the years? If so, how? Are these changes positive or negative?

This is hard to say, because I've only done two shows before. I've *heard* that it has changed a lot, but I can't really comment on that.

What first motivated you to enter the industry? Who were your inspirations?

I used to love Ellen DeGeneres, but really, I loved every single stand-up comedian I discovered. It was mostly Danish comedy I saw in the beginning and it just fascinated me to bits. I was never really motivated to start - I was forced.

The comics got together and decided that I had to start doing comedy, because otherwise I'd just be hanging around the clubs annoying everyone with questions about how it felt to be on a stage. Then one thing led to another...

If you didn't have your current job, what would you probably be doing?

I was studying to become an international social worker when I really fell into comedy. I was working for the Danish Refugee Council and Red Cross Youth Denmark. My whole life was about fundraising and charity organisations. I'd like to think I would have stayed there, as I sometimes miss it.

If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?

Oh. I already have that. I am so lucky to be able to say that I have my dream job. I would not want it any other way.

What is your earliest childhood art memory?

My mum had gotten this big bucket of green paint from a coworker. She placed me in the kitchen with some white paper and a brush. So I was painting green figures all over the paper when I suddenly thought: Hold on. This feels unfair. Why is it only the paper that gets to be green? So I started painting the chair and a bit of the wall.

I ended up taking off all my clothes and painting my body green. There is a photo of me with a big grin on my face, completely green. My mum was not happy.

Do you ever feel any pressure to be a social commentator, or constantly update material to respond to events?

No. I do comment on society quite a lot but I never feel pressured to. I want to do it and I feel the need to do it.

Equally, do you think there has been a shift in public sentiment that has affected your work?

Yes. The world is falling apart. There has a rise of the right-wing and it is scary. It means that I have had to do more activism. I have started two separate political movements, one in Denmark and one in the UK.

I spend a lot of time campaigning and speaking about politics. It means that I feel like comedy has been pushed away a bit - which it hasn't actually, but it's a fear. I miss just doing dick jokes without worrying about the world ending.

Describe the last year in 5 words or less?

If you mean 2016, then: This year is the worst!

If you mean 2017, then: I miss 2016.

If you could work with anybody, from any point in history, who would you pick and why?

Emmeline Pankhurst. Because she seemed pretty kick-ass.

Why would a performer opt to do either a ticketed event or participate in the free fringe? What are the benefits and limitations of both?

I can only speak for myself - I chose the free fringe for two years because I am poor. It didn't cost me much. I managed to make money. I liked that it felt inclusive - that everyone could come and see it, even if they had no money.

This year I have a ticketed show. I make all of my shows anxiety-safe, meaning that people can contact me ahead of time if they need a specific seat or similar. The last couple of years, people have had to queue, sometimes for hours, to get into my show.

That would make me anxious as fuck if that was me. And I did my shows in nightclubs. Huge rooms. This year I get a nice little 90 seater theatre. It will be much more pleasant.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to take a show up to the fringe?

Go up as a punter first. Check out all the rooms and time slots, both free and ticketed. And take a deep breath.

When and where can people see your show?

Bedlam Theatre, 2-28 of August, 14:00. Tickets on sofiehagen.com.

And where can people find, follow and like you online?

On Twitter, I am @SofieHagen. On Instagram I am @SofieHagenDK and I'm on Facebook too. My website is sofiehagen.com where you can also buy my last show, Shimmer Shatter.


Sofie Hagen: Dead Baby Frog is performing at Bedlam Theatre at 14:00 on 2nd – 28th August. For tickets and more information visit the Ed Fringe website.

Author

Tom Inniss

Tom Inniss Voice Team

Tom is the Editor of Voice. He is a politics graduate and holds a masters in journalism, with particular interest in youth political engagement and technology. He is also a mentor to our Voice Contributors, and champions our festivals programme, including the reporter team at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe..

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