Think of a sitcom character so likeable that he gets a cheer the minute he appears. Now think of a sitcom character that hilariously misunderstands things because he is not quite all there. Now mix the two together and give him a funny accent. Boom. You just took your first step to imagining Ismo Laikola.
But wait, there is so much more to him. Quietly-spoken and subdued, Laikola is a Finn who has an innocent charm hiding a deep and competent grasp of the art of comedy. His deliberate misinterpretations are perfect and presented with a look of bewilderment at the world.
He addresses the problem of silent letters in English with a straightforward approach that leaves the audience in no position other than to doubt their own language. Or he comments on the fact that women tend to have more cosmetics than men do. Well, his show is titled Observing the Obvious after all.
But, contrary to first appearences, the material isn’t obvious. It is witty and unrestricted. Common themes are given a fresh look, skewed through his Finnish eyes and of course, purposefully misconstrued to comic effect.
Although his quirkiness shines through constantly, Laikola feels slightly rushed at times and he misses out on lingering with that brilliant confused look on his face after he delivers his bizarre commentary. This is a minor complaint but it does detract from the illusion and reminds us he is a comedian working us rather than the hilarious character we hope he really is.