Will Franken

Will Franken

Date of birth: 30-06-1973
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Goodbye Will Franken; Hello Sarah Franken

Comic comes out to 'end a lifetime of secrecy'

Over the past 15 years, Will Franken has forged a reputation as a fast-paced, multi-layered character comedian.

This year, however, Will Franken will be not at the Edinburgh Fringe – but Sarah Franken will. For the British-based American comic has decided to end 'a lifetime of secrecy' and come out as transgender.

Previously she had been Will on stage, and Sarah off, for fear that identifying as a woman might harm her career. But now she has come clean, and says the decision has given her a new lease of happiness.

It is thought Franken is the first comedian to openly transition while already publicly known as male – and she says: 'To go from character comedian Will Franken to character comedienne Sarah Franken in mid-career has so far proven interesting, exciting and challenging.'

She says she will address the issue during her show Who Keeps Making All These People at The Stand with 'more honesty than I have ever revealed onstage… A window will be opened – albeit briefly – onto an aspect of myself I had long kept hidden.'

But Franken says being a character act rather than a stand-up muddies the waters for audiences. She said: 'The fourth wall is firmly erected throughout my shows, leaving punters often guessing as to what my true accent and my true beliefs are.'

But she does have one fear about going public as Sarah – that because she's so much happier now, she might have lost the creative spark that makes her funny.

As Will Franken

Franken lived as a woman in San Francisco nearly 15 years ago for five months, but says she went back in the closet when she started gaining recognition as a comic performing as Will. 'I was more obsessed with my career at that point and felt being out as a transgender would limit me, especially in the leftist climate of San Francisco,' she writes on her website.

'In Edinburgh of 2013, I spent nearly every evening dressed as Sarah after my show had finished. But this marks the first time where I have consistently lived as Sarah,' she adds.

'Until a month ago, I had maintained the rule I had set for myself where I would live as Sarah and only perform as Will. But I've since had a few shows as Sarah which have received fairly positive reactions and I am now attempting my first Edinburgh as her.

'I have been largely happier during this time in ways I sometimes can't quite comprehend. I seem to have garnered deeper and more significant relationships with females, both platonic and intimate, and have somehow managed to stay funny in the process, incorporating my humour into my female personality. Thus defying my two major fears when it came to outing myself – a) that I would be alone for the rest of my life and b) by being happy, I wouldn't be funny anymore.'

Here is one of the gigs she's performed as Sarah

And here as Will two years ago:

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Published: 26 Jul 2015



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