Sofie Hagen Bubblewrap | Gig review by Steve Bennett at the Brighton Comedy Festival

Sofie Hagen Bubblewrap

Gig review by Steve Bennett at the Brighton Comedy Festival

Early last year, Sofie Hagen had the sort of personal awakening that might be a Hollywood screenwriter’s wet dream. An uplifting, transformative experience where long-held insecurities fell away, she learned to love herself for all her quirks and belatedly realise that she was #winning at life all along.

It came when a man asked her to piss on him during sex. So that’s the point where those Tinseltown suits might suggest a rewrite…

But one key theme of Hagen’s impressive show – at the Brighton Comedy Festival on the back of her deserved best newcomer win in Edinburgh – is that you shouldn’t go changing yourself for any corporate marketeer’s unattainable version of perfection. She has finally learned to own what she once thought of as flaws, including her competitive and stubborn nature, and become a happier person – and a better comedian – because of it.

If you know Hagen from the circuit, you will know her for her self-deprecating gags about her weight, but that would not prepare you for this impressive debut. Bubblewrap is an engrossing, entertaining and candid romp through her life that touches on a lot of the themes that have become de rigueur in comedy, as the taboo is dragged into the mainstream – body issues, mental health, feminism - but almost so slyly that you barely notice.

The foundations of this skilfully-built hour come from her teenage obsession with Westlife, consumed by awkward fantasy encounters with the Irish boy band. She’d even ring random Dublin numbers from her childhood home in Denmark in a hope of connecting with one of them. And then there’s the fan fiction, as toe-curlingly embarrassing as you might imagine, and then some.

Hagen’s not the first to get laughs from naive yet overblown pubescent writing, but not only are her examples – a minuscule fraction of the 350 stories she wrote at the time – exquisite in their bad prose, they feed seamlessly into the bigger narrative, giving weight to what might otherwsie seem easy laughs. And if her obsession seems like it’s crossed the thin line into mental illness, there’s good reason for that…

She tells the stories with a friendly warmth, but also a sense that you probably shouldn’t trust her not to do something darkly mischievous at your expense. She can turn that affability to withering putdown when she needs to – just witness the contempt she still holds for Brian McFadden for leaving the band on March 10, 2004. (‘Never forget, never forgive,’ her heartfelt motto).

The old theatre critic’s cliche is ‘steal a ticket to see this show’. Based on another formative tale from her youth, Hagen’s mum would definitely approve of that directive.

Review date: 22 Oct 2015
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Brighton Dome

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