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Published April 15, 2018

For Ismo’s first show in the country, let alone at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, it was great to see his room at the Greek Centre almost completely packed. The crowd contained a wide range of ages, all of whom were engaged and enjoying the show, start to finish.

As a Finnish comedian who learned English as a second language, Ismo’s core material centres around the difficulties in learning and understanding the intricacies of a different language and culture. After a few sections on this, he moves on to other topics such as his relationship with his wife and the absurdities of relationships and sex in general.

What stood out to me during the show was that the initial setups of most of Ismo’s material sounded almost too simple, like a teenager’s first attempts at observational humour after catching a Seinfeld re-run, and the jokes would play out as you would expect. But then, right at the end, Ismo would make a swift left turn and finish on a really interesting and funny joke.

Then strongest material is definitely the language-based jokes, looking at how strange our use of one or two words can be, but even when the setup of a joke felt a little underwhelming, it was still funny.

Ismo’s show is definitely one for people who enjoy observational comedy with a little twist of absurdism. His captivating awkwardness and earnest appraisals of his life offer some solid laughs and a fun night out.

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