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Ismo Leikola, the Finnish stand-up comedian, visiting Helsinki on May 26 2015. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

Ismo Leikola, b. 1979 in Jyväskylä,  is back in Finland for the month of June, performing nearly a dozen shows in his mother-tongue after capturing the title of “The Funniest Person in the World.” I sometimes want to introduce him to friends (not literally, but via YouTube) as one of Finland’s best comedians, but I wonder if that’s even a fair assessment of his talents.

An ambassador for Finnish quirkiness, Leikola caught the attention of stand-up fans around the world last year, when he competed in the Laugh Factory’s contest for the world’s funniest person. After basically dominating the competition, he appears to have a steady stream of gigs lined up across the globe. Speaking often in English, Leikola’s delivery has a unique, charming quality as he fumbles along, joking about silent letters and cultural differences he’s noticed while traveling. His non-verbal behavior is pretty amusing as well. Leikola is typically sucking down bottled water and anxiously repositioning his hands during his performances as if it’s his first time on a stage.


Leikola’s routine has been approved by the large markets in the US and UK but he’s not stopping there. He recently shared the trailer for a new comedy series (in Finnish) on his FB page. The show is described as fictional comedy series loosely based on his own life.

Last week, while waiting for Leikola to arrive for a press event I got a chance to see the trailer which portrays him as a clever, disheveled creative. A few minutes later, Leikola bursts into the room, out of breath, and initially speaking louder than necessary, muttering something about a long flight from the US.  and how he wasn’t able to find a parking space for the press conference . . . a genuinely funny moment. After being described as Scandinavia’s Mitch Hedberg, I think it’s safe to assume that seeing this guy live would be money well spent.

More information about the upcoming shows can be found here: