You could argue that Sofie Hagen had the perfect Fringe last year. It didn’t start well – she arrived in Edinburgh with a broken heart, a fractured coccyx and bronchitis, plus her venue hadn’t been built so she had to be moved into the cavernous Liquid Room main space. Within a few days she was packing that space out with her show Bubblewrap, getting rave reviews and, without wishing to be vulgar, probably doing pretty well with the cash bucket. By the end of the run, she’d picked up the coveted Foster's Best Newcomer award.
The show touched on some difficult subjects such as self-harm, depression – and Westlife. Yet the show itself was upbeat and buoyant. And this year, the London-based Dane is setting herself a rather intriguing goal. Her new show, Shimmer Shatter, is a call to the world’s introverts. It started life when Hagen and her sister found themselves on a party boat, being forced to dance – the introvert’s worst nightmare. While Sofie counter-attacked with a verbal volley, her sister had a “full-on panic attack”.
“It was the first time I realised some people who are introverted haven't built up that sort of shield against the rest of the world. She’s not a freak, she just didn’t want to dance, and she didn’t know what to do. I thought, we need to talk about this.”
This may be the first time introversion has been tackled by a standup show. Hagen was warned by a scriptwriter that no sitcom has been made about an introvert for good reason. But an hour of standup—where the comic can be personal and explorative—is different, and Hagen has proved herself to be skilled at turning difficult subjects into funnies.
But Hagen wants Shimmer Shatter to be more than just funny. “With Bubblewrap I had a message. With this one there’s a feeling I want to create. I want us to feel like a group, and feel powerful. Introverts are scared to speak up in a crowd, and I want this show to feel like a roar for all the people who can’t.”
It’s the talk of a comic who’s now building a following, and with her Guilty Feminist podcast hitting 200,000 downloads, Hagen is starting to do just that.
So how does an introvert celebrate getting a major comedy award, as she did last year? “I think I went to one of the bars for an hour, then as soon as I could get alone I shut the door and just felt what I was feeling. It took six months to sink in, really – it was too much at the time.”