NZICF 2017: Ismo Leikola – Observing the Obvious…Still

After a sell-out season at last year’s festival, Ismo Leikola is back on our shores to delight us with more of his quirky observations. His Finnish drawl is the perfect vessel for his uniquely perceptive commentary on the peculiarities of life that we either take for granted or hadn’t noticed before.

Observing the Obvious…Still is essentially last year’s show revisited. If you’ve been, most of it will ring a bell however such is the strength of the material that it is still funny the second time as it was the first time. His brilliant quip of why he loves NZ weather seems to have become his standard opening line and rightly so as it gets an enthusiastic response every time.

The key to Leikola’s success is he is incredibly likeable. From his childlike fist pumping to his endearing musing pauses as he moves from one thought to the next, you can’t help but be drawn in to his whimsical world where there are silent numbers and whales play hide-and-seek. His casual, low-key style makes it feel more like he’s conversing with friends rather than a room full of strangers.

Being from Finland but living in America, most of his material is framed through outsider’s eyes. Many things about American culture and the English language baffle him and he shares this with us to humorous effect. At one point, the show turns in to a bit of an English class momentarily as Leikola gives us a hilariously informative lesson on the complexities of the word ‘ass’.

Observing the Obvious…Still is still just as good as its predecessor with some extra goodies thrown in for good measure. Ismo Leikola’s signature brand of comedy is an entertaining cultural exchange in which you learn some, laugh lots and heartily look forward to the next one.

Ismo Leikola will be performing again at Q Theatre on the 8th and 9th of May. This show WILL sell out so get in quick! For more details and to book tickets, click here.



NZICF 2017: 5 Star Comedy Preview

A pre-festival staple for over sixteen years, the 5 Star Comedy Preview is a mammoth show featuring a generous lineup of some of the international acts that will be performing over the next few weeks. With such a smorgasbord of comedians on the bill, there is something to suit everybody’s palate.

This year’s showcase is compered by Jimmy McGhie who is a fitting host, easily warming to the crowd with his ‘medium posh’ English charm. In between playing emcee, he engages in friendly banter with audience members (paying special attention to someone with a massive bag of crisps) as well as share what annoys him about being single in his 30s.

Interestingly the theme of the evening across most acts, whether intended or not, was predominantly about growing up and married life – or otherwise. This made for quite a cohesive show with each act seguing smoothly in to the next.

First up is Iain Stirling whose devious and twisted sense of humour coupled with that Scottish twang make for a highly entertaining set. His anecdotes of a racist baby and the fun that can be had as a pensioner is made all the more hilarious by his vivid and animated storytelling.

Adam Hess is next who came prepared with a list of fun facts about himself. His hurried repartee and frenetic persona will keep you on your toes – don’t let his seemingly haphazard demeanour fool you though, he has some comedic gems up his sleeve.

Lou Sanders takes to the stage with a quiet confidence and her conversational style draws you in immediately. Her short stories about the world for children and ploy for how she gets men to remember her at parties demonstrate her cheeky, off-kilter brand of comedy.

Closing the first half is Ismo Leikola, who won our hearts last festival with his quirky observations and delightful Finnish inflection. His comic thoughts on the every day garners laughs effortlessly and he uses the fact that English is his second language to great comedic effect.

Returning festival favorite Chris Martin kicks off the second half giving us a more lighthearted perspective on married life including being a gifted ‘mum whisperer’. His upbeat, slice-of-life observational style and amiable charisma give him the most universal appeal out of everyone on the bill.

Markus Birdman, another returning Kiwi favorite, takes the stage next with a self-assured swag and forewarns us from the get-go of what to expect in his set. His material is audacious yet disarmingly clever and though he had pre-empted us, there are comedic surprises along the way.

If jokes about one’s nether regions are not your thing, Ed Gamble might just change your mind. His entertaining and animated monologue about his trip to the doctor opened the audience to new ways of describing ‘whipping it out’ and had everyone in stitches.

Making his NZ debut, seasoned comic Hal Cruttenden closes the show on a high with his jovial candour and his misleading ever-so-camp disposition. His humorous lament of being in his 40s and amusing stories of his Northern Irish wife were thoroughly enjoyable.

It’s hard to pick favorites in this year’s 5 Star Comedy Preview as it was such a stellar group with a bit of something for everyone. Whether you enjoy your comedy bite-sized, tapas style or you just want a preview of this year’s international talent, your laughing muscles will be in for a workout.

To find out when all these comedians are performing, check out the Comedy Festival website. Some of these acts will also be performing in The Big Show and Comedy All Stars.





NZICF 2016: Ismo Leikola – Observing the Obvious

Ismo Leikola

The title ‘Funniest Comedian in the World’ – awarded to him at an international stand up competition in 2014 – is quite a reputation to live up to. This is Ismo Leikola’s New Zealand debut though judging by the turnout, he looks set to be a Kiwi favorite.

Leikola takes to the stage in the most unassuming, cordial way and the crowd immediately warm to him. His awkward disposition coupled with his seemingly anxious tics and fidgety mannerisms are endearing and all part of the show’s idiosyncratic charm.

Observing the Obvious unfolds as a series of concise and witty observations of the everyday things in life – including comical stories from his marriage – that amuse and baffle him. The brilliance of this show lies in Leikola’s perceptive ability in exposing and poking fun at the often illogical, blatantly apparent aspects of life that have been hidden in plain sight.

Silent letters in English words, the dichotomy of ethical eating, toilet signs and even the humble earthworm all get given new perspective. The audience are consistently reminded of his Finnish roots as he openly fumbles on words and draws cultural comparisons, effectively playing the ‘bewildered foreigner’ to humorous effect.

Though there were a few lulls, they seemed to be more from the audience not picking up on the more subtle jokes than anything else. He recovers from these moments well, either simply moving on or sometimes even playfully explaining to the audience what we missed.

Observing the Obvious is an offbeat, excellently crafted hour of quirky and insightful one-liners that pack a comedic punch. Ismo Leikola’s undeniable dexterity at this style of comic misunderstanding, especially with English as his second language, is impressive and a must-see.


Observing the Obvious is at The Classic at 8:30pm until May 14th with an extra earlier show (at 5:30pm) on the last day. The season is already close to selling out so get in quick before you miss out! For more details and to book tickets, click here.