views from the gods

saints and sinners of the stage and screen

Sofie Hagen: Bubblewrap
The Phoenix Artist Club
20th July 2015


Sophie Hagen

Photography supplied by The Phoenix Artist Club

The great thing about being an awkward teenager is that you grow up. The less than great thing is that if you're now in your early 30s or under, it's highly likely your teen angst has been captured on the interwebz for all time. Back in the day, you just had to raid your mum's photo album, accidentally 'lose' a few Kodak moments and all was well. Now everything is safely 'in the cloud' and archived on the Wayback Machine. Tim Berners-Lee, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg have a lot to answer for...

If you've ever desperately tried to untag yourself from a dodgy Facebook photograph, spare a thought for Sofie Hagen. Not only did she have a massive crush on a boyband in the Noughties - okay, maybe crush is an understatement, obsession is more accurate - she published a lot of dubious fanfic about hem under her real name. We're talking more than 300 stories of the Mary Sue and slash variety, all penned by a naive 13-year-old. Hagen's EdFringe show Bubblewrap revisits some of the defining moments of her life, but none more embarrassing than her dabblings with Westlife.

Most EdFringe shows are a while in the making, but over a decade is an extraordinary amount of preparation. Admittedly, a young Hagen didn't realise she was creating comedy gold at the time and, as an adult, she's reclaimed h er earlier work in an incredibly entertaining way. Hagen reading aloud her own writing with all the awareness of adulthood is frankly the most hilarious thing I've heard in a long time. She knows everything that's wrong with it, pausing at all the right moments for us to laugh and comments on the flaws. In many ways, it's incredibly brave - she's allowing us to laugh at the little girl she used to be. Some of the best standup comes from what is truly personal to the comedian and Hagen lets us in far enough to get to that sweet spot.

An anecdote involving a shower is rather drawn out, and whilst there's a lot of repetition to get to the punchline which is frustrating in places, the payoff when it finally comes is rewarding. Hagen brings a message to her show rather than just a simple through-line - we leave thoroughly amused, but also uplifted. Jokes about sounding a bit different (Hagen is fluent in English but has a thick Danish accent) and raging against the size zeroes (Hagen isn't one of them) feel a bit tame, and that's because countless other standups have already trodden that territory. Crazy Westlife fan? Now, that's new, and that's why it's so humorous. Hagen shares a series of glorious stories which could belong to no other person but her.

When Hagen gets into her stride, she's very cutting and alway quick to make a brilliantly deadpan quip. She has a lot of confidence, great timing and knows her material well, which is always encouraging for an EdFringe preview this close to August. Hagen may be a relative newcomer to the comedy circuit, but she's galloping her way round, having well and truly gone and got "that horse". Charming, incisive and deliciously funny.

Sofie Hagen: Bubblewrap ran on 20th July at the Phoenix Artist Club. It will run from 7th to 30th August 2015 at Liquid Room Annexe, as part of the Edinburgh Fringe.

Nearest tube station: Tottenham Court Road (Northern, Central)

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