He's a Finn who, with his debonair good looks, has set out to conquer the world. And unlike other comedians, he's not looking for the small stuff. His trick is to talk about what everyone knows, but in a frankly unusual way. Going for jokes on universal subjects is perhaps what makes this man who crosses borders so successful.
Sleep, for example, becomes completely hilarious when ISMO looks at it. He, who can only sleep in a bed, laughs at those who fall into the arms of Morpheus at the slightest opportunity. Better still, he comes up with a completely hilarious explanation for this difference, and it's always hilarious.
And since moving to the United States, this stand-up genius has been teeming with new ideas. Because arriving from one day to the next in a culture whose codes you haven't fully mastered brings its share of improbable situations and embarrassing misunderstandings. This is a strength for the artist, whose sketches take these differences between Finland and the rest of the world and turn them into the kind of ridiculousness we've all experienced before. For example, his sketch on the word ass, which becomes bad when used in dumbass but positive when used in badass, has been viewed over 70 million times.
After Finland and America, ISMO, whose stage name is his first name - "that's nice, four letters, like Cher", he says - is making a comeback on our old continent. In France, he's still an outsider, but with his slightly eccentric appearance and philosophically simple jokes, we're sure he won't be for long.
ISMO, real name Ismo Leikola, was studying physics and chemistry in Finland when he was introduced to comedy and stand-up at his campus bar. His talent must have been innate, because he used old Eddie Murphy and Eddie Izzard cassettes to put on his first show. A year and a half later, he was already making his whole country laugh. But he needed more. He translated his show into English and from 2005 onwards, he took to the stage to make our phlegmatic English neighbours laugh, with two notable appearances at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2007 and 2008.
By winning an online competition organised by the Laugh Factory, ISMO officially became the funniest person in the world. As well as the media coverage, this title opens the door to a tour of the United States. Naturally, the comedian jumped in with both feet, and after the success of Funniest Person in the World, decided to move to Los Angeles in 2015. Over the next few years, he produced 250 to 300 shows a year there, and also became the first Finnish comedian to appear on an American talk show. There seems to be no limit to his rise!
And indeed, in the United States, ISMO no longer touched the ground. In 2022, he performed in front of 45,000 people at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, opening for Gabriel Iglesias. But while he may have fallen in love with America, the comedian has not forgotten his roots and regularly returns to Finland to find a little inspiration. Clearly, his humour knows no borders, and we can't wait to see when he plays his first date in France.
A truly refreshing show. For once, it's a comedian who takes his inspiration from everyday life without needing to overdo it or fall into vulgarity. It's hilarious from start to finish - I'm a real fan!
ISMO may have been in the stand-up business for twenty years, but his show is nonetheless refreshingly funny. With talent, he dissects everyday life, making comical situations that are well known but that nobody really takes the time to question. We can't wait to welcome him to France and discover his explosive humour!
If you type 'Finnish comedian' into Google, only one name comes up. This suggests that the comedian - who goes by the nickname Ismo - has carved out a singular niche for himself in North America. ISMO moved to Los Angeles in 2015 after a successful career in his native country. But when he was awarded the title of 'Funniest Person in the World', he decided it was time to swim in a bigger pond.