Caro Meets Comedy Interview

Funmbi Omotayo: Legal Immigrant

By | Published on Wednesday 23 March 2016

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One of our Edinburgh reviewers went to see Funmbi Omotayo’s show ‘Legal Immigrant’ when he performed it at the Fringe last summer, and was completely charmed by his warm, honest and laid-back style. Luckily for you Londoners, he’s set for a short stint with the same show at Soho Theatre.
To find out more about the content of the show, and his career thus far, I put a few quick questions to Funmbi, ahead of his upcoming dates.

CM: Tell us about ‘Legal Immigrant’ – what do you talk about in the show?
FO: It’s about my journey, being raised in England and then moving to Nigeria and back again. It’s about my search for an identity. Am I British? Am I Nigerian? It’s a whole culture thing.

CM: It sounds as though your childhood can’t have been altogether easy – what do you think makes you able to look back and laugh at it?
FO: You start from what you know, you write what you know. I wanted to tell my story and share with people how I grew up. Everyone’s childhood is funny in some way, I wanted to find the parts of growing up that everyone can relate to.

CM: This show made a bit of a splash up at the Edinburgh Festival last summer (our own reviewer was impressed). How did the Fringe go, from your perspective?
FO: The Fringe was good for me. It taught me about performing, about appreciating every laugh you get. It’s a bootcamp, but a really good experience.

CM: You’ve recently done quite a bit of TV, haven’t you? Have you enjoyed that? How does it compare to stand up?
FO: I’ve loved the TV I’ve done. TV spoils you. You’re prepared and they can always edit it to make it even better. But with stand up there are no lies. You know when it’s going well or not. It keeps you on your toes.

CM: You’re an actor as well as a stand-up. Do you see yourself following both lines of work indefinitely? Do you prefer one over the other?
FO: I love stand up but also want to do more acting. I will always do stand up, even if it’s just popping into a club to do a set.

CM: What made you want to become a performer? Did you always know this was what you wanted to do?
FO: Not at all. My sister pushed me in the right direction. I wanted to be Michael Jackson, but who didn’t? I knew I could make people laugh, but the idea that it could be a job was completely new to me.

CM: How did you go about starting your career?
FO: My sister called up a comedian who was looking to book acts for the urban circuit and got me five minutes. I did the five minutes and the rest is history.

CM: Who or what has influenced you, and your stand up?
FO: Chris Rock influenced me because he isn’t just funny, he also has a message. His comedy is powerful. Whether he’s talking about women, politics, race – there’s an intelligence behind his comedy.

CM: Other than these upcoming dates, what have you got coming up? Any new projects?
FO: I am working on a brand new show, and will be doing some work in progress shows around London very soon.

Funmbi Omotayo performs ‘Legal Immigrant’ at Soho Theatre from 1-2 April, see the venue website here for details and to book. For other UK tour dates, see this page here.

LINKS: www.funmbi-omotayo.co.uk | www.sohotheatre.com | twitter.com/funmbi



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