Katherine Hebert, Contributing Critic- New York City
Luisa Omielan bills herself as the “most famous British comedian you’ve never heard of”. But when I entered the bar downstairs at the Soho Playhouse to see her latest show “God is a Woman” I overheard multiple people that had not only heard of her but had nothing but complimentary things to say. My personal favorite was the woman next to me who when I asked about her opinion of Omielan’s past work said: “I’ve been following her online for years she’s fucking hilarious”. After hearing the impassioned murmurs of agreement I felt my expectations for her set rise in spite of myself. This compiled with her impressive resume only encouraged my excitement. Omielan is the first British Comedian to be awarded a BAFTA Breakthrough Award for Comedy. Additionally she had three shows before this where she tackled politics, lack of thigh gaps and in the show, I saw last night, religion. Despite this resume, Luisa Omielan’s leap across the pond is anything but conventional. Having no agent or manager her trip to New York was funded entirely by her ever-loyal fans. And after watching Omielan’s latest set I would like to extend my sincerest gratitude to everyone that gave her money to make the trip.
Luisa Omielan is a fast-talking comic force to be reckoned with that will have you hanging on her every word. Her latest endeavor “God is a Woman” is topical,informative, genuinely moving at times and most importantly hilarious. Accompanied by her Bernese Mountain dog Bernie Luisa Omielan tackles religion head-on. Omielan takes the piss out of the three Abrahamic religions saying “In the name of fairness I’m going to have a go at them all” and she certainly does, setting the tone for the rest of the night right out of the gate. Then she directs the focus to Catholicism as this was the religion she grew up with. Though incredibly critical of her Catholic upbringing Omielan’s takedown of the sexist practices within the church never feels mean spirited. In fact Luisa Omielan’s work seeks to educate and understand rather than belittle and demean. She takes classic Bible stories and contextualizes them before presenting the story as it would be today. Nothing necessarily new here but her delivery is masterful. The originality comes in when she draws a distinct parallel between reinterpreting these religious texts to better understand them, with her own search for meaning in the wake of a terrible tragedy in her own life and how she found solace in human kindness. I would say more but I don’t want to spoil her jokes.
Put simply Luisa Omielan is a comic to watch, she is brilliant, bold and witty. The fact that she is unrepresented and relatively unknown is criminal proving evermore that the glass ceiling is still unshattered for the majority of women. “God is a Woman” is running at the Soho Playhouse from September 6th through October 12th and it is not one to miss for anyone who is a fan of intelligent comedy. My only warning is if you are a devout Catholic that doesn’t appreciate jokes at God or Mary Magdalene's expense maybe sit this one out.