Comedian Sofie Hagen tackles her childhood demons
Sofie Hagen’s back and she’s angry. Perhaps for the very first time.
“Dead Baby Frog is very much about how I’m trying to reconnect with my anger because I was never allowed to feel it when I was a child,” says the multi comedy award winner.
“I’ve only been feeling angry for about a year now, so it’s still very new to me. I feel like a newborn when it comes to trying to navigate my own anger,” she laughs. “It definitely does help me connect with it because I have to be angry to do the show.”
Last November she headed home to confront the step-grandfather who helped raise her.
“It’s very personal, it’s not just rainbows and puppies - it’s dark. It’s a comedy show about emotional abuse so people need to be prepared for that. It’s also the most important show I’ve done for me, one I’ve needed to do since I was a child in a lot of ways and it’s about coming to terms with those demons I guess.”
Sofie adds she now has a need to speak and be loud all the time to make up for being basically silenced by this patriarchal figure for 10 years of her life,
“I know my grandfather wouldn’t want me to do this show, obviously. That’s kind of what I like, it is kind of his fault that I’ve become this person that needs to talk about this on a stage,” she laughs.
The idea was to tell him off. To tell him what he’d done was unacceptable. Sofie, who has graced TV screens and the airwaves around the world, teases things didn’t happen the way she thought they would.
“I ended up getting something out of it that I couldn’t in my wildest imagination think that I would get out of it,” says Sofie, who’s enjoying some family time back in Denmark when we speak.
“I feel there could be a parallel universe where I’m in Denmark all the time... My best friend has just had a baby and he keeps growing every time I see him. I feel like I’m missing out on a lot of stuff but at the same time I love having a career in the UK so I so think the balance is fine, I think I’m okay with it,” says Sophie, who spent half her time with her grandmother and step-grandfather growing up because her single mother was working a lot.
The experience affected her image of men. Something she only became aware of when she started dating aged 17-18.
“It’s a classic thing of a young girl who marries (somebody like) her father. You try to fix your childhood trauma through new experiences and find someone who resembles your tormentor. If you can fix him... I did that for a while and then the second I realised it was ‘oh s**t,” she laughs “it’s just another one.”
Coming to terms with a lot of things in therapy, a lot of people shared similar experiences with Sofie during the show’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival run. Given what’s happening to women’s and LFBT rights, has the show come at the right time?
“A big aspect of the show is about anger... I do a lot of activism work as well... you saw (alt-right leader) Richard Spencer who was punched in the face, that’s such a new step compared to good old peace, love and silent protests; holding hands and stuff.
“Now its just ‘oh that didn’t work, now all these systems have to almost meet the level of the Reich’. I want people to start being angry instead of having to focus on how sad the whole thing is.”
Born in Denmark, based in the UK, she laughs off any repercussions of Brexit.
“I’m not the target. I’m an immigrant but people don’t see me as an immigrant, people see me as an expat because I’m white. I’m fully aware I wasn’t the person people wanted to leave the country. The repercussions are way worse for people of colour or people who look as if they might be Muslim, even though they’ve been in the country for generations even longer than I have.
“It’s tremendously sad because it does signify the rise of the right-wing. I hope I can stay, I know there’s a risk I might be thrown out, which would be devastating. At the same time, it doesn’t seem like anyone knows how to properly do this so it feels like we’ve been left in the hands of a bunch of monkeys,” she laughs.
Word of warning, if you don’t want Sofie to really lose it, don’t mention Westlife. She used the Irish boyband to talk about mental health and body image in her first show. Every time they tour or release new music, she gets a tweet.
“I was sad people would mention Westlife and not the fact that I was talking about something that was quite important. I was a massive Westlife fan. Last year I was tired of people mentioning them all the time but I do mention that phase again in my new shows I’m kind of laughing about it, for now...”
• See Dead Baby Frog at Norwich Arts Centre tonight, Cambridge Junction December 16 and Colchester Arts Centre January 19.