Comedy Review: Luisa Omielan

luisa omielan

This review first appeared in The Skinny

Luisa Omielan… Am I Right Ladies?! @ The Counting House

4/5 stars
Review by Jacqueline Thompson.
Published 11 August 2014


Luisa Omielan makes no bones about it: she wants to be FAMOUS. With the packed-out Am I Right Ladies?! looking set to become as big a hit as her colossal 2012 Fringe show What Would Beyoncé Do?! her wish seems destined to come true. From the moment you crowd into the near-tropical heat of the Counting House’s ballroom you’re bombarded with some seriously infectious music, as well as the cheering sight of Omielan dancing on stage as if no one’s damn well watching.

She’s brilliant, her one big hoop earring winking under disco lights (another would get in the way of her mic) as she pumps her fists, encouraging her already captivated audience to join in. Addressing women as ‘bitches’ throughout the show in an empowering, I’m-reclaiming-this-word sort of way, Omielan chats to the crowd as if it’s filled with her bosom buddies, covering a kaleidoscope of topics, from Somalian lovers and being fat-shamed in Hollywood, to anti-depressants and the pleasing effects coconut water has on a woman’s intimate parts.

There’s no place for prudery here; if you don’t want to hear about the sometimes grotty realities of sex, or see – up close and personal – your comedian’s sweaty cleavage, this isn’t the show for you. But we need more comics like Omielan: bold as brass, ambitious, proud of her gorgeous, wobbly body, and, above all else, wonderfully funny. If some Hollywood agent wants her to lose twenty pounds, he can do one. Omielan knows she doesn’t need to change and, ladies and gentleman, she’s absolutely right.


Comedy Review: Caimh McDonnell

This review first appeared in The Skinny

caimh mcdonnell

Caimh McDonnell: Southbound and Down @ Cabaret Voltaire

3/5 stars
Review by Jacqueline Thompson.
Published 11 August 2014

Caimh McDonnell knows that laughing at other people’s misfortunes is a wicked pleasure (Boris Johnson stuck on a zip wire springs happily to mind), and he’s more than happy to serve up tales of his own woes for our delectation. From a botched mugging to a horrific case of constipation, McDonnell’s anecdotes about his doomed move to London prove there’s nothing like a bit of schadenfreude to get one’s comedy juices flowing. His warm and endearing stage presence, all ruffled white hair and cuddly frame, helps to establish an easy rapport with his audience, and his ability to riff off retorts is impressive.

On the downside, McDonnell relies a little too heavily on cultural stereotypes, with many a gag revolving round rude Londoners, shrill Scousers, sullen Brummies and bumpkin Bristolians (what is it with comedians doing patronising impressions of Bristolians? Russell Howard’s a repeat offender and he’s from Bristol). McDonnell writes for Mock the Week and it’s clear to see; his fast-paced, slightly shouty style can be witnessed on a number of blokey panel shows, and it’s perhaps not best suited to this particular kind of stand-up. A gentler, more conversational approach might better serve his self-effacing confessions.

Despite this, there’s an honesty and sweetness to McDonnell’s loveable-shambles persona that makes Southbound and Down a real (and free) Fringe treat. In the end, we’re not so much laughing at his moments of shame as laughing with him at life’s absurdities, and even though his move to London wasn’t so triumphant, his sojourn in Edinburgh surely will be.

Comedy Review: Eleanor Morton

eleanor morton

This review first appeared in The Skinny

Eleanor Morton: Lollipop @ The Stand

3/5 stars
Review by Jacqueline Thompson.
Published 11 August 2014


It takes a brave soul to stand in front of a group of strangers and confess to having chronic anxiety, hypochondria and OCD. Eleanor Morton’s format is simple: chat to the audience about one’s problems and throw in a song or two. This would be a nerve-wracking feat for most people, but for someone who confesses to taking medication and seeing a therapist for social angst, a show like this requires serious balls.

The strongest element of Lollipop is, by far, Morton’s songs, which she sings to the accompaniment of her ukulele and keyboard. One song about clubbing is witty, tightly written and genuinely funny. Another, about office boredom, is melodic, moving and showcases a rather lovely singing voice. There’s shades of Laura Marling in her vocals and a touch of Josie Long to her storytelling style.

Some might find it all a tad too twee. Jokes about talking animals aren’t to everyone’s taste – a fact which Morton readily acknowledges – and there isn’t a great deal of depth to her stories, despite their potential. There’s not a drop of cruelty in this brand of humour; kindness oozes from Morton’s pores, and whether this is a strength or weakness of her material depends on the individual perceiving it.

Still in her early twenties, Morton has created an impressive, soul-baring Fringe debut, and with more songs and just a bit more edge, she could achieve something special. Even if she remains this sweet, her intriguing blend of self-therapy and enjoyable nonsense deserves an audience.

How do I love Key? Let me count the ways…

This first appeared on


Pleasance Dome, Friday night, 11pm. I arrive early (or so I thought) for Tim Key: Masterslut. The queue is already snaking all over the joint. I ask a member of staff where it starts and he points vaguely into the distance. I sigh.

‘Is this the queue for Tim Key?’ I ask a couple of women at the back. They smile and say yes and I reluctantly join the swollen ranks, disgruntled but nevertheless happy to be there.

After a few minutes, another member of staff appears by my side and declares the house open for Masterslut. To my astonishment and delight the queue begins to move in my direction: I had inadvertently joined the start of the queue! I would never have the balls to do that deliberately.

I sit down, front and centre, in the Masterslut audience. Key is already on stage. So is a bubble bath, with a bottle of Radox perched on its edge. Key is holding a red rose, dipping it in the foam and waving it about seductively. He is wearing a suit. My heart flutters. He makes eye contact with me. I smile sheepishly.

Key lopes off-stage and launches into his set. A projection appears on the wall in front of us. It’s a diagram of the audience with arrows and phrases surrounding certain seats: ‘shake hands’, ‘hug’, ‘give a sugar cube to this one’ and so on. Key proceeds to do just this, and I get a friendly handshake. Not exactly a hug or a sugar cube, but still something to write home about.

The poetry Key recites is sublime, so funny I laugh aloud in a completely unselfconscious way (which isn’t like me). ‘An ox? An ox? An ox? An ox? I could barely conceal my incredulity.’ The words are perfectly chosen, exquisite in their awkwardness, endlessly surprising. His timing is spot-on, the strained silences stretching out before startling resolutions take you unawares. It’s what’s in his delivery too; that slightly morose expression, that petulant drawl, the sometimes quite filthy language coupled with the cheeky face of a debauched-toddler. At one point during the show he recites a poem about a man who slaps his penis onto a supermarket conveyer belt. It transpires the man has misheard the cashier, ‘hauls’ himself back into his jeans, and bashfully hands over his rewards card. Magic.

The video clips Key plays throughout the show are hysterical, and when he plunges headlong into his bath (which he does a few times) an underwater image of him comes up on screen. Later, a clip reveals that the photo-shoot for a porn playing card featured earlier was in fact conducted by Key himself, and we get to see Key urging the model to get his knob out.

This is, quite simply, perfect stand-up; hilarious, intelligent and utterly original. There are just so many reasons to love Tim Key, and I got to add another one to my list that night: he gave me a hug AND a sugar-cube at the end. Bliss.

Tim Key: Masterslut, Pleasance Dome until 21 August, 11.30pm; Pleasance Courtyard 23-25 Aug, 11.15pm.