ISMO: Words Apart

Charming and personable, but the set was stretched too thin

ISMO: Words Apart

I always have a degree of admiration for those who learn a second language. I did French lessons for nearly 10 years at school and ordering a beer is about the limit of my linguistic power. To learn a second language, and then decide to perform a comedy show in that language is truly amazing. 

It is often remarked that the English language is exceptionally difficult for non-native speakers to learn because of the silly rules, silent letters and sounds that don’t even exist in other dialects. While you might have a bit of a laugh about the needless complexities, you perhaps wouldn’t attempt to construct a whole show out of it, because there will come a time where the point becomes laboured. 

For Ismo, I would say there was perhaps 30 minutes of good content on the subject, exploring how ‘shit’ is such a deep and complex term, and his difficulty with the world squirrel. There were roughly as many jokes that worked as fell flat though, and a lot of the laughter was polite more than belly-busting. 

The biggest issue with the set was the lack of pace and variety. Although in many ways it was interesting to hear a non-native speaker’s experiences with English, it felt less of a comedy routine and more of a lecture by a guest speaker who fancied himself ‘down with the kids’. 

Again, though, I really cannot emphasize enough how much respect I have for Ismo for doing an English show. I cannot imagine how difficult it would be. There just wasn’t enough content to sustain the hour, and it subsequently felt flat. 


Tom Inniss

Tom Inniss Voice Team

Tom is the Editor of Voice. He is a politics graduate and holds a masters in journalism, with particular interest in youth political engagement and technology. He is also a mentor to our Voice Contributors, and champions our festivals programme, including the reporter team at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

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