“What did you want to be when you were 15?” I asked Luisa Omielan yesterday at Soho Theatre in London.
“I‘ve always wanted to be in comedy,” she told me. “Always wanted to perform, always wanted to be funny. Since I was about seven or eight. I liked showing off and getting clapped-at. I would say: Hey Grandma! Look at my interpretive dance! – She would laugh and clap and I loved it. I wanted to be a professional show-off.”
Yesterday, I told her: “Of course, no-one can tell who is actually going to make a million quid, but you seem very self-assured, you’re very talented, the shows are well put together, you’re phenomenally hard-working and you pay attention to the marketing.”
Hard-working is the word.
Or two words.
Luisa’s second full-length show Am I Right, Ladies?! is playing at Soho Theatre 2nd-8th February and she is presenting A Single Ladies Valentine’s Ball at Islington Assembly Hall on the 14th of February.
“It’s Am I Right, Ladies?! followed by a party,” she told me. “If you’re single, you can come down and it’s ballgowns and trainers. I want everyone to get dressed up and really glamorous, like they’re Cinderella but without the Prince.”
“The girls will be wearing ballgowns and trainers?” I asked.
“And then, also in February, you’re going on a three month tour of Australia.”
“Yes. Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Perth. That should be exciting.”
“Except you look slightly worried,” I said.
“Because I’m petrified.”
“Australia,” I said, “is just British people living round the edges of a big desert.”
“But I find it really scary doing my shows abroad,” said Luisa. “It sounds excellent, but it’s really daunting. Going abroad is amazing if you have someone to share it with and you’re going around saying: Isn’t this weird? to them. But, when you’re on your own, it’s Isn’t this weird; help me, I’m drowning. Great opportunities but scary. People don’t realise there’s no money in touring, especially when you’re not known.”
“So you hate touring abroad?” I asked.
“No, I don’t hate touring. I’ll be fine once I’m there. It’s just the anxiety of going somewhere new is a bit un-nerving. I’m not complaining. Going abroad to do my shows is amazing, but it is scarier than it sounds.”
“But you’ve taken shows abroad before…” I said.
“With What Would Beyoncé Do? (her first show) I’ve travelled the world. I’ve been to Los Angeles, New York, Montreal, Toronto, Singapore, Belfast, Dublin, Helsinki…”
“Helsinki?” I said.
“Did you have to make adjustments to the show?” I asked.
“In London,” explained Luisa, “they’re very comedy savvy, so they know when to get up and dance and enjoy it, whereas other places aren’t used to seeing solo hours – they’re used to 20 minute or 10 minute spots within a show, so it’s a different dynamic. In Montreal, they’re used to packages of comics unless you’re massive like Jimmy Carr. But, when you’re an unknown like me, with no TV or radio profile…”
“You’ve been talking to people about that?” I asked.
“Yeah. Chats. But it’s slow to get anything off the ground. I didn’t realise how long it takes. There’s lots of boxes to tick and hoops to jump through.”
“Are you,” I asked, “taking a new, third show to the Edinburgh Fringe this August?”
“Hell… No…” said Luisa. “Why would I? It takes so long to write a show. I think people who have a break do come back with excellent shows, But year after year after year after year is too much pressure.”
“Have you got another show in the back of your mind?”
“No way. Stop asking me for a new show. It’s not coming. Alright, my third show is going to be called Famous With a Baby. It’s going to have to write itself. Until I am famous with a baby, you don’t get another show.”
“Are you working on that?” I asked.
“I’m working every day on it.”
“You’re a very lucky woman,” I laughed.
“Every day,” said Luisa. “Every day. I think it’ll be a couple of years yet before I do that show.”
“At least nine months,” I said.
“Longer than that. I have to find a boyfriend first.”
“How’s that going?”
“But you’re a potential millionairess,” I said. “Highly successful; two shows.”
“Maybe he’ll be in Australia,” said Luisa. “It’s a trilogy…
“What Would Beyoncé Do? was: Why aren’t my dreams coming true? I’m really heartbroken.
“Am I Right, Ladies?! is: My dreams are starting to come true and I’m doing alright now, but I’m single.
“Famous With a Baby is: Guys! Everything’s worked out! I’m famous with a baby!
“That show will come when it’s ready.”
“But you said,” I pointed out, “that you’re working on it every day.”
“I’m not going to even think about it for another 18 months.”
“Do you care if the baby is male or female?”
“No. Provided it’s healthy and happy and it has a nice dad who loves its mum.”
“Just the one baby?” I asked. “Famous With Twins would be quite a good title. The father would have to be a rich man?”
“No,” said Luisa, “I’d be quite happy to provide for a man. I’d quite happily have a kept man. It would be nice if he’s got equal money, but I don’t mind if he hasn’t. It’s more important he’s a good egg.”
“A good egg?” I asked.
“Yes,” confirmed Luisa.
“You would get lots of replies,” I suggested, “if you advertised for: KEPT MAN WANTED.”
“But I would still want him to be an Alpha kept man,” explained Luisa. “Sure of himself, knows what he wants, is happy where he is in life, comfortable in himself, not put off by somebody else maybe making more money than him. If he earns more money, great. But, if I do, also great. I’ve never wanted a rich man. I think it’s weird. I’ve never wanted to rely on somebody else for money – apart from the bank and an overdraft.”