Sophie Willan

Avatar

Rood Eye

  • Thursday 26th September 2019, 3:57pm [Edited]
  • England
  • 3,852 posts

In a couple of threads recently, I've mentioned the British public's long wait for the next Victoria Wood and the comedy world's desperate need for the appearance of same.

Okay, it's a bit early to get overly excited about Sophie Willan but I do believe she is possibly an embryonic Victoria Wood.

There are similarities and differences between the two comedians.

Victoria hailed from Bury (pronounced "berry") and Sophie hails from Bolton (pronounced "bole-tun") - two almost-adjacent towns about 12 miles north of Manchester.

Victoria was a rather shy girl from a middle-class family while Sophie is to some extent a product of our ironically titled "care" system. She's an ex-escort whose mother is a heroin addict.

Two very different backgrounds but, I suggest, two remarkably similar women.

Essentially, what we have in Sophie is a British woman comedian who is naturally a very funny person - and you don't get many of those in a pound.

I'm not suggesting British women as a group don't include a goodly number of naturally funny individuals but I am most certainly suggesting that most of those individuals don't find their way into stand-up comedy.

One of the striking ways in which Victoria and Sophie are similar lies in their immense and immediate likeability - in fact, I'd go as far as to say lovability. As soon Victoria walked out on stage, she was your friend even if you'd never seen her before in your life - and I see exactly the same quality in Sophie.

So, Sophie is in a number of ways reminiscent of Victoria but, when comparing these two hugely talented comedians, it has to be said that Sophie is more than a little ruder and cruder than Victoria ever was.

Yes, Sophie can indeed be very rude and very crude but - for me, at any rate - she gets away with it in the same way Billy Connolly could get away with it. I think there's something about seeing naturally brilliant comedians at work that makes us view them differently from the way we view the lesser lights of the comedy world. In short, Sophie and Billy (and exceedingly few others) prove there is a difference between "rude" and "offensive".

Bottom line? I watch this girl on stage and I see a very good comedian before my eyes - and a stunningly good comedian in the making.

She's only recently entered her 30s and, if I read the history of comedy correctly, that's when the very best comedians begin to blossom from "very good" to "absolutely marvellous" and I'd be very surprised if Sophie didn't do exactly that.

And, do you know what? I really believe she could clean up her club act for TV and become a huge star in our living rooms.

And, do you know what she'd be then? She'd be another Victoria Wood.

To be absolutely clear, when I say she'd be another Victoria, I don't mean an exact replica or even a copy: I mean a British comedian who is better than almost all those who have gone before her.

Avatar

Firkin

  • Thursday 26th September 2019, 4:12pm [Edited]
  • United Kingdom
  • 864 posts

Sophie Willan is very good. Not many can get away with jokes about drug use and mental health and yet she does.

Avatar

tonecapone

  • Wednesday 8th April 2020, 1:02am
  • derby, England
  • 105 posts

Her pilot show last night was bloody triffic and i hope it gets a full series soon.She has got that talent for writing and cast wise that sharon horgan had when pulling came out.

Avatar

Rood Eye

  • Wednesday 8th April 2020, 6:58am [Edited]
  • England
  • 3,852 posts

Sophie Willan is a major talent in the world of comedy.

In my post above, written six months ago, I suggest she might very well be what the whole world of British comedy has been wanting and needing for a number of years - a replacement for the irreplaceable Victoria Wood.

Not that the two of them are similar in every way. Victoria was a well-brought-up and relatively demure young lady. Sophie, in stark contrast, has (shall we say) been around the block a few times and has, from time to time, lent against a few street corners while waiting to catch her breath.

I think perhaps Victoria and Sophie are twin souls, one born on the right side of the tracks and one born on the other side.

If both had had the same advantages in life (or the same disadvantages), I think it would have been very hard to tell the two of them apart, comedically speaking.

However, the two of them were miles apart in terms of their upbringing and that difference is plain to see in their writing. Victoria was, by most standards, privileged: Sophie by almost all standards wasn't. However, when it comes to the privileges (or lack thereof) of birth, Sophie's loss is most certainly the world of comedy's gain.

Victoria and Sophie are a strange pair, being simultaneously very similar and yet very different.

Victoria could do a stand-up set at the vicar's tea party and get a standing ovation. There would be no standing ovation for Sophie at such a venue, mainly because the audience would have walked out (or fainted!) during the first few minutes.

In both cases, however, we're talking about women with astonishing comedy talent.

Last nights pilot of Sophie's new sitcom "Alma's not normal" convinces me I was absolutely right about her talent and her potential as both a comedy writer and an actor.
...................................................................................
Alma (Sophie Willan) is having a cup of tea and a chat with her ex-boyfriend's mum, Viv (Sue Vincent).

They're watching a TV program in which Paul Hollywood extols the wonders of home-baked bread.

Alma: 'Ave you ever baked bread?

Viv: 'Ave I f**k! I once bought a loaf that wasn't sliced though.

Alma: 'Ow was it?

Viv: 'Ard work.
.................................................................................

For me, that is top-quality comedy dialogue.

That very brief and simple exchange is, for me, up there with the funniest comedy dialogue ever written - by anyone, anywhere.

Someone who can write dialogue that good can, if they can do it consistently, become a major success in the field of comedy writing.

I think the expression "a star is born" might be an understatement.

Avatar

Sitcomfan64

  • Wednesday 8th April 2020, 8:26am [Edited]
  • England
  • 671 posts

Bloody hell I must have been watching a different programme! Apart from the line "I told him, he's no son of mine", I didn't laugh at all, it was painful!

I should say that both Sophie Willan and Jayde Adams are excellent stand ups and I fully expected to enjoy this but I really didn't.

Avatar

Alfred J Kipper

  • Wednesday 8th April 2020, 8:49am
  • Aldershot, England
  • 6,089 posts

Shock news, another stand up comedian gets their own sitcom. At this rate I may never get to watch a sitcom episode I haven't seen twenty times. Pirate

Avatar

Paul Wimsett

  • Thursday 9th April 2020, 10:05am
  • Folkestone, United Kingdom
  • 3,379 posts

It's not a sitcom yet though is it? All this fuss about a pilot.

Avatar

Rood Eye

  • Thursday 9th April 2020, 1:42pm [Edited]
  • England
  • 3,852 posts
Quote: Paul Wimsett @ 9th April 2020, 10:05 AM

It's not a sitcom yet though is it? All this fuss about a pilot.

Get thee to Kate & Koji!

Sophie Willan and "Alma" are the 2020s.

They are going to introduce themes into sitcom the very mention of which, when programs like "Kate & Koji" were fashionable, would have had TV executives throwing themselves from the rooftops!