Comedian and Guilty Feminist podcaster Sofie Hagen has spoken out about her anxiety and will endeavour to improve conditions at her gigs for those who also suffer from anxiety. Sofie made this decision after she experienced an anxiety attack whilst seated in the audience of a comedy gig.
Writing on Facebook the comedian said: “I had to sit in the middle of a row, quite near the stage, because that’s where the venue managers told me to go.
“During the show, I started feeling quite anxious. I became hyper-aware of the people around me and their laughs started feeling like physical pain and my breath got heavier and faster. I didn’t pay attention for the rest of the show; I just waited till I could get out.”
Sofie also wants to make the venues she performs in feel safe for people who aren’t cis-gender. She intends to bring signs for toilets that say ‘toilet with urinal’ and ‘toilet with cubicle’, concealing the usual male and female signs.
“I am also trying to change the ridiculously hard habit that it is to say “Ladies and gentlemen…” before I introduce myself to the stage.”
So far Sofie says she has found venues to be compliant, however: “Some venues won’t be able to accommodate my needs and it is well within their right to refuse. This is a first and a test to see how easy this is to make work.”
“If someone has a specific need that would help them with their anxiety, they can e-mail me [firstname.lastname@example.org] and we will sort something out. Be it asking for a seat in the corner or near the exit. Maybe they need to stand in the back. Maybe they want to be let in before the rest of the audience, so they can breathe in the space before the rest of the crowd arrives. Whatever it is, I will do my best to sort it with the venue.”
We think this is excellent and hope venues, promoters and performers take note.