- Thursday 26th September 2019, 3:57pm [Edited]
- 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.