It’s strange to simultaneously hear mutterings of extreme praise and total dismissal when leaving a show. In the case of Ismo Leikolo, this speaks volumes of his ambition and uniqueness, setting him out as anything but a cookie cutter comedian.
This peculiarity permeates every aspect of the show. For starters his stage presence, riddled with squawks, stammers and an awkward restrained enthusiasm, seems to be both entirely unintentional and weirdly emphasised and forced. His structuring also has a stilted and oftimes jarring flow, switching between very clear cut sections with little to no transition and frequently letting segments overstay their welcome, often by well over 10 minutes. For example a decent fifth of the show is devoted to a list of English uses for the word “shit”. The topics themselves are equally particular and strange, Ismo often blaring strikingly black and white opinions on numerous popular topics, or showcasing an almost embarrassing, yet endearing, love for sausages.
While this quirkiness often makes it a real challenge to tell if the audience is laughing at or with Ismo, it also feeds into what is arguably the shows main draw. There is an intoxicating tension and discomfort that lingers in the air, as every part of the show seems to be being stretched between two polar extremes while hovering anxiously in the centre. Knowing if this is an atmosphere you’d want to seek out is what will differentiate whether ‘Words Apart’ is a show you’ll adore or despise.
★★★ and a half.
Louis Boyd Madsen