Taking to the stage at Stylist Live LUXE this weekend, comedian Sofie Hagen was joined by Susan Wokoma and Kemah Bob to talk us through the Sunday papers.
When not one, not two, but three of the best people in comedy take to the stage at Stylist Live LUXE, you can expect a lot of laughs. And that’s what the audience got from Sofie Hagen, Susan Wokoma and Kemah Bob. However, when they began their talk, it was clear that their dissection of the news was going to be touching on very serious topics, too.
Whether they were discussing Emma Watson’s admission of being self-partnered or the McDonald’s boss who had a relationship with his colleague, the women kept coming back to one important point: how we treat each other in our world of constant feedback. And that’s because, unfortunately, when you’re as successful as these women, trolls become a part of your everyday life.
All three women are brilliant comedians. Sofie Hagen has sold out two tours – Shimmer Shatter (2016) and Dead Baby Frog (2017), founded wildly popular podcasts including The Guilty Feminist with Deborah Frances-White, and Made Of Human, and is author of Happy Fat: Taking Up Space In A World That Wants To Shrink You.
Wokoma is also The Guilty Feminist alumni, and has given knockout performances in Chewing Gum, Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Crashing and her recent role as Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream was game-changing. And Kemah Bob is the founder of The FOC IT UP Comedy Club for femme comedians of colour, and also a regular at the Edingburgh Fringe and on BBC and Channel 4 comedy shows.
You may also like
My feminist icon: Sofie Hagen reveals who inspires her
Each of them shared stories of their own experiences with online absuse: Wokoma spoke of the backlash she received when she stood up for Love Island’s Samira Mighty, and Bob said trolls told her that her voice “made people want to rip their ears off”.
But it was Hagen who highlighted the reason that people abuse each other online: attention. “Twitter created filters where you don’t see certain words or tweets, so people were messaging me to say they were sorry I was getting abused, and I was like, ‘don’t worry I can’t see it’. Then the trolls were like, ‘shit, she can’t see what we were saying!’ and they were consoling each other on the forums.”
The comedians also discussed how they can understand why some people think it’s OK to troll because celebrities feel so far removed from our lives. “We think of that person as being so far away that it’s allowed to troll, because of the position they’re in,” explained Bob. “If I watched Timothee Chalamet in The King and tweeted ‘I’d destroy him!’ it’s kind of the same thing, because if I said that to him in reality that would probably be sexual harassment.”
Hagen, Wokomoa and Bob went on to discuss the danger of call out culture — the idea that we must point out every single mistake someone makes. “At first it was like, wow, we get to decide who stays and who goes! But it’s not sustainable. We will have no one left,” says Wokoma.
Bob reminded everyone that even in our world of perfection, “all of your favourite people are problematic, including me”. “We are all problematic because we are all socialised by the same society,” Hagen agreed. “That society is racist and sexist, so of course we all have ingrained racism and sexism in us.”
But the conclusion they landed on for all of this was swapping to ‘accountability culture’, in which we can tell people when they have upset us and have them thank us for pointing it out.
Images: Bronac McNeil
Chloe Gray is the senior writer for stylist.co.uk's fitness brand Strong Women. When she's not writing or lifting weights, she's most likely found practicing handstands, sipping a gin and tonic or eating peanut butter straight out of the jar (not all at the same time).