Luisa Omielan: The Queen B of Comedy
Luisa Omielan. She’s fresh, sassy and booytlicious, and stole the show at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe festival.
If you’re not yet acquainted with this formidable stand-up comic, perhaps you’ve heard of her show: “What Would Beyoncé Do”, aka the show that had every Tom, Dick and Harry chin-wagging at the Fringe, and caught every woman’s eye whilst flicking through the pages of the mammoth Fringe guide.
I hear your cries: where did this gloriously fantastic show title come from? The answer: Luisa’s toilet; when her brother blocked it with one of his booty nuggets and Luisa thought to herself: What would Beyoncé Do?
With over 2000 shows at the fringe, and the average audience being four spectators, it is quite a feat that the Laughing Horse had to turn away several punters each night. Despite being Luisa’s debut solo show at the Fringe, the house was packed full every time; and Luisa was given a thoroughly deserved five starts from every Fringe critic going.
Luisa is as equally as fierce as B’s alter ego, and she’s definitely one to watch out for in the coming months. If you get the chance you should definitely head to the streets of London; as Luisa will be performing her acclaimed comedy show for free once again.
One thing that strikes most people about your show is the title. How did you come up with it, and what does it tell us about the show?
I think it tells you everything you need to know about my show: it’s fun, it’s glamorous, it’s putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, it’s urban, it’s hip hop, its a party! I came up with it because I am always complaining about how whack my life is and that it wasn’t going in the direction I wanted it to. I kept thinking OK, well Beyoncé is successful. What does she do? What would she do?
If you won a day with B herself, what would you do together?
Oh my days! We would have a party! I would sing songs at her and she could tell me jokes. We could bake cupcakes and do a rap battle with J.
What would Beyoncé do if she saw your show?
I think she would be like, oh girl, you need to be paying me some dollar for my music, but I hope she would love it and be flattered. I have actually already planned Beyoncé coming to the show. I would get her onstage, and make her sing all the song bits and then just be like “Fuck the jokes. Lets just hear you sing!!” Oh, and I have already planned my pose for the new profile pic….
You had a really successful run at the Fringe festival this year, how did you find the whole experience? Was it your first fringe?
Up until that point I had done nine shows at the Fringe over the last four years. This was my fifth year, my tenth show, but my debut solo. It was the Edinburgh of dreams. I did 33 previews before I went up. A lot of people told me to not get too excited and no one pays attention to the Free Fringe, but I knew they would. I just had to put the work in and market it as if I had a big agent machine working for me.
It’s been said that women were “wetting their little panties” over your show. Is the show specifically targeted at women? If so, why?
That’s kinda gross! I love women. I love men. I love gay men and gay woman. The story is about my life, so its whatever’s relatable. It’s great for women because I am talking from that perspective. I don’t have a willy , so I cant talk about that side, but I have seen enough of em to tell them all about themselves, so I think that totes counts!
Do you have a particular ‘holiday highlight’ from your Edinburgh run this year?
Yeah the whole run, rocking up and seeing queues round the block, getting five star reviews, getting The Scotsman in, getting so much industry attention and just the love I was getting from social media and audiences! Oh, and getting a burger named after me at The Meadow Bar. AMAZING! That and my poster in the chip shop.
When did you first get into comedy, and who inspired you?
I have always wanted to do it. I used to pause and rewind Whoopi Goldberg in Ghost and Sister Act. I love her facial expressions and how funny she was. Also, growing up in a Polish family, with a polish Grandma. At first I couldn’t speak English and then I forgot Polish, so I learnt very quickly how to communicate by pulling faces.
There is a stereotype that most comedians were nerdy at school. What were you like as a teenager?
I was a gangsta! I think I always tried to be cool but failed miserably. I really wanted a pair of brown Kickers… I remember that much.
You’ve taken the Edinburgh show to London, performing for free again; is there any particular reason behind that?
Yeah, I could have done it in a proper theatre, but that’s not really the crowd I am trying to attract. I want non comedy goers that are out for a party. No one knows me yet but people love the show, so I take a party show to a trendy party side of town, by making it free but producing it like the professional show it is. It makes audiences feel really invested, so when they go away they tell all the friends on Twitter and Facebook. I am building a following from the ground up. Well, at least that’s what I am trying to do. For me, its important at the moment, to make my show accessible and get it growing!
What do you think makes free shows so important, especially at the Fringe?
They are huge. Without Free Fringe performers like myself would have nowhere to play, for you to develop as an artist, as a performer, to learn your craft. The show is as professional as you make it. Don’t let anyone tell you shit about Free Fringe! You put on a good show and people will come, plus I go home on a profit.
Are there any similarities between you and Beyoncé? And which Beyoncé song would you choose as a caption for your show?
Well I got a perm to help. I think she is quiet fierce and I’m kinda aggressive, so does that count? As for the song, hell yeah, but you have to come see the show to see what that grand finale is!
You trained in improv in America. What was that experience like, and are you still performing any improv at all?
Yes. I perform along side Rachel Anderson and Lauren Shearing in GirlBand. America changed my life! It was the best thing I have done to date. I have never felt more at home than in the comedy capital of the world – Chicago. For stand-up London is number one, but for improv, there is no other than the second city. If you love comedy, go. Go by yourself, sign up for every course you can and challenge yourself on every level.
Are there any vast differences between British and American humour?
Americans in Chicago are screaming for you to do well as soon as you go on stage. Stand up in LA and they’re ready to take you down. As for the humour, there are differences, but I think funny is universal. I think it’s important you take into account your vocab and rhythm of talking. It’s very different. You cant do the same set over there, but you usually find once your over, you don’t want to. There’s too many new things to talk about.
Beyoncé or Destiny’s Child?
Now I love Kelly and Michelle, but lets face it, without Beyonce, there is no Destiny’s Child, so of course it’s got to be the Queen B.
There are still a few more dates for you to catch up with Luisa in London. Check dates here.