10 Questions: Ismo Leikola
- What is the first thing you do in the morning?
I have to admit that the first thing I do is reach for my phone, although a couple of years ago I thought that would never happen. After that, I normally have to rush to the loo for a wee.
- What makes you laugh?
When thinking about humour is your job, it may not always make you laugh because even when you like the joke, you focus on analysing it. I do still enjoy good standup and new ideas. Also, when someone says something that shouldn’t be said under any circumstances, it tends to be really funny. I’ve heard a tonne of jokes, so when someone really goes where they shouldn’t, to the dangerous waters of political incorrectness, that does make me laugh.
- What is the best joke you’ve ever heard?
This is a bit like asking a professional chef to name their favourite food – there’d be so many, and the one you end up saying from the top of your head would never be the best or even that good.
- What are the most essential elements of a good joke?
That it has a genuinely new idea to it; a thought you’ve never heard before. The element of surprise needs to be there, too, and it needs to be relatable so that you immediately understand what it’s about.
- How would you describe Finnish sense of humour?
Now that I live abroad it should be easy to draw a comparison, but I don’t think there are huge differences. We Finns tend to able to laugh at ourselves and our own stupidity better than people in the US; I’d say self-mocking is pretty typical in Finland. In general, Finns have a great sense of humour. The general public is civilised enough to get intelligent jokes, and it’s nice to be able to rely on that.
- Describe the worst experience you’ve had on stage.
One of the secrets of being a professional comedian is forgetting your own screw-ups quickly. Otherwise you wouldn’t have the courage to get back on stage.
- You’re officially the funniest person in the world – but who do you think is the funniest?
There are so many!
- Do you always feel like you’re expected to be funny, including on your time off?
Fortunately not – and sometimes I really am funny, so that helps. People do understand comedians aren’t funny in every possible situation. I’d say it’s one of the upsides of this job to have a lot of fun, and sometimes the stories end up on the stage.
- What were the most difficult things to say bye to when you moved away from Finland?
Finnish sour cream, rye bread, all the different kinds of dairy products… But most of all the Finnish language, as it has always been really important to me. Now that I’m living in the US and speaking English all the time, I’ve come to appreciate the incredible language that is Finnish even more.
- What is your favourite Finnish delicacy and why?
Sour cream isn’t really a delicacy… But black sausage and lingonberry jam tasted really good when I came to Finland for my tour. And Karelian pies, someone really should take that stuff to the US!
*This article was originally published in November 2016.