We all remember March 10 2004, right? It was a big, historic date. One we’ll never forget. The day Brian McFadden left Westlife.
It was a big deal for Sofie Hagen, at least. As a teenager, the Danish stand-up was determined to become the world’s biggest Westlife fan. She probably succeeded, too. Her nutty tales of writing erotic fan fiction, or calling random Dublin numbers in the hope that whoever answered was friends with the Irish boy band, are the work of a 13-year-old who was truly obsessed.
But behind the tales of teenage fanaticism, Hagen’s show slyly tackles her insecurities, depression and mental health issues during those years. She’s self-harmed, had suicidal thoughts and, at 15, was admitted to a psychiatric hospital. It’s a dark story told lightly and honestly, and with plenty of wry wit.
Hagen’s low-key, subtle delivery lets her material do the talking, and while some moments could do with a bit of tightening to keep our attention, for the most part the Scandi comic’s loose style gels well with her stories. She neither allows herself to take a somber route, nor undermines the seriousness of the subject matter by signposting gags or forcing punchlines.
Not that there aren’t punchlines. Hagen sneaks sardonic jokes into her tales of teenage naivety, and there are some killer lines and callbacks in her cunningly crafted material. Her frank anecdotes of sexual adventures are particularly funny: filthy and graphic, but somehow polite with it.
Hagen jokes that she’s been working on this show since she was 13, but she’s certainly put the effort in. Now in her mid-20s, the candid stand-up tells us she’s in a much stronger and chirpier place, and it shows. Even if she still hasn’t quite gotten over McFadden’s departure.