Her childhood in care, her mother’s heroin addiction, her days as a s*x worker … Bolton comedian Sophie Willan is turning the details of her life into dazzling standup
It’s great to have Sophie Willan’s working-class voice in the comedy industry. That’s not (just) me talking, that’s how “loads of people” have greeted the Lancastrian since her standup debut in 2016. “Some people are quite up for being pigeonholed like that,” says Willan. “But I think nuance is important.”
What do onlookers mean when they peg Willan as “northern” and “working-class”? How accurately can those labels describe any of us? Those are the questions posed by her second show, Branded, which tours next month. With it, Willan enacts phase two of her manifesto, as she calls it, to bring authentic working-class voices into the mainstream – while questioning why those voices are momentarily hip again.
Sophie Willan: who are you calling a northern working-class comic?