Let’s be clear: UK comedian Luisa Omielan’s Fringe act What Would Beyoncé Do? is not a tribute show.
It’s a stand-up comedy performance cum survivor story that happens to feature a lot of Beyoncé’s music. And it was so well received that in a short space of time Omielan found herself going from performing free small shows in a room above a pub at Edinburgh Fringe to the Soho Theatre in London’s West, with critics raving about her “megawatt comedy personality”.
Here, the London-based stand-up comedian, improv performer and actress gives an idea what Adelaide audiences can expect.
What was the origin of What Would Beyoncé Do? I understand the inspiration came from a particularly low point in your life …
Yes, it came after a particularly bad break-up and I was approaching 30. I always thought by 30 I would have it all figured out, but I found myself moving back into my mum’s house, unemployed and sleeping in the spare room.
My best mate from home had also just come back from travelling, so we kept meeting up and were just feeling like we had cocked up our lives and made the wrong choices. Then we were talking and she said: “You do know you’re the same age as Beyoncé?”
We howled for about an hour (probably because we were drunk from drinking Blue Lagoons at 2pm on a Tuesday), but it then became a mantra. What would Beyoncé do?
What kind of topics do you traverse in the show?
Turning 30, thinking you would have it all figured out, being unemployed, aspirationally wanting more from your life, being dumped and feeling replaced, mental health, suicide attempts and the single ladies’ dance routine.
Tell us about the Beyoncé connection – what is it about her that you so admire?
I think she is a brilliant, powerful role model who is a great example of what you can achieve if you work hard. She has worked all her life, she belives in herself, she promotes a positive sense of self-worth, and she is just nice. She is a lovely, warm, kind and caring woman in power – I think that’s pretty epic.
How much singing and dancing can audiences expect (and how much can they expect to be doing themselves)?
Hah, I love it when the audience joins in and dances!
It is a stand-up show and not a tribute act, so don’t panic too much, but the more you are willing to let yourself go, the more of a party you can have.
I’ve read that you always wanted to be a “superstar comedian” … in what way has the success of this show at the Edinburgh Fringe and elsewhere changed your fortunes?
Well, every time I do this show and come off stage to standing ovations, I feel so blessed and excited and like my dreams have come true. And then I get the bus home and I am reminded that perhaps my monetary fortunes have not changed that much just yet.
So … what would Beyoncé do?
Well, you’ll have to come see the show to find out!
Luisa Omielan will present What Would Beyoncé Do from March 2-15 in the Garden of Unearthly Delights as part of the Adelaide Fringe.
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