“Don’t expect vanilla. It’s a highly-melanated Cherry Garcia, baby.”
Sexy, saucy with an extra serving of heart: Alumni Awards Coordinator Gemma Higgins talks to “Mama Bear” Sophie Duker about protecting her babies, covering audiences in tulips and ham and why we should all keep making room for funny women. Shout out to the 0.5…
Photo Credit: David Sell
Gemma Higgins: Sophie! It’s not even been a year since taking your work-in-progress show Diet Woke to Brighton and you’ve already been previewing your debut full hour for The Edinburgh Fringe, Venus, at the Glasgow International Comedy Festival! How are you feeling about it?
Sophie Duker: I feel flipping great! Ecstatic even. I get to talk about my terrible opinions and secret perversions to consenting paying adults. What’s not to love?
GH: “Silly, sexy and savage….race, sex…not being a goddess” – aside from airing your hatred of Yorkshire puddings (which I’m with you on – don’t @ me, people…), can you tell us a bit more about the show and what we should expect?
SD: Don’t expect vanilla. My show is a bit fruity, has occasional dark chunks and generous amounts of sauce. It’s a highly-melanated Cherry Garcia, baby.
GH: You’re infamous for telling jokes “with the confidence of a cis straight middle-class white man”. When did you realise you were funny?
SD: People who ‘know’ they’re funny don’t need to do stand-up for validation. I was formerly secretly, now openly needy. I always wanted to delight strangers. Out-loud funny is a by-product of that mission.
GH: Your “irreverent cabaret comedy show” Wacky Racists is back for 2019, running every second Sunday of the month in a sweet central London venue. Set out to “crush bigotry with funnies” it’s now been going for over a year; was there a specific moment when you knew you had to make it happen?
SD: You know when you’ve talked or thought about something in so many iterations for so long you start boring yourself? That’s when you just have to make it. Wacky’s been an interview podcast, a sitcom, a shiny-floor panel show. And it still will be. But I love love love the live stand-up shows. I get to have a one-man white man house band, cover audience members in tulips and ham and watch the best comedians in the UK from my hosting chair.
GH: As a self-described “sexy-cerebral comedy underdog”, how different do you find being on stage as a host to performing your own stand-up?
SD: When I’m hosting I feel like Mama Bear. I want to protect my babies, I want everyone to have a good time. When I have no ownership over the gig I’m like Mama Bear back she was fun and single. I want to keep the audience on their toes. I want blood. I want to kill. This is a metaphor.
GH: As someone who is – to quote – “laugh out-loud funny”, which women are making youlaugh-out-loud right now?
SD: You want my current Fab Four? London Hughes. Olga Koch. Kemah Bob. Sara Barron.
GH: Over the years since we’ve seen new comedy partnerships, friendships, even relationships start at the Awards, and Funny Women London Hughes, Chloe Petts and Desiree Burch have all been special guests on the Wacky Racists line-up. Are you in touch with anyone else you met through the competition?
SD: For brevity, I’m going to focus solely on the 2015 contest. Emily Lloyd-Saini hosted my audition – she was, and still is, magic. Julie Ann Meaney was my bae at the final – literally giving me the shirt off her back. Sarah Keyworth is just stunningly great and Desiree Burch is a dream. I would still drunkenly text each of those heroes. Wait – did you just want to know about how many Funny Women I’ve hooked up with? 0.5
GH: Did you have a mentor and did they influence your comedy?
SD: I had no official mentor but I would like to shout out some of the goddesses in my personal pantheon. There are no prizes for needless kindness in comedy yet but the nominees include: Sara Pascoe, Sofie Hagen, Athena Kugblenu, Suzi Ruffell, Sindhu Vee, Deborah Frances-White, Bisha K Ali, Josie Long, Catherine Bohart, Elf Lyons. Ten is a good number.
GH: What would you say to anyone out there thinking about entering the Awards?
SD: Don’t think of it as a competition. Think of it as a celebration. It’s wild how many comedy sistren have passed through these hallowed halls and it’s so nice to be able to look at people who are constantly framed as your competition feeling pride and affection rather than (just) jealousy and inadequacy. There’s room for all of us. Keep making room. I literally can’t wait to work with you.
GH: Comedy sistren – Mama Bear has your back.
Venus wraps up before the Fringe at Vacant Space, Glasgow on Saturday 30th March. For tickets and more information click here!
Not based up North? Don’t panic – you can grab tickets for Venus at the Brighton Fringe on 1st and 2nd June here!
Wacky Racists is back at 2Northdown on 14th April, for tickets and more information click here!
Sophie will be joining Deborah Frances-White for The Guilty Feminist Live at the Mayflower on 22nd May. For tickets and more information click here!
Join your comedy sistren! Watch this space for more information about how to enter the 2019 Funny Women Awards!