Harith Iskander calls himself “the godfather of stand-up comedy in Malaysia.”
Now Iskander has an even grander moniker to go by: “Funniest Person in the World.” Plus a whopping $100,000 in cash prize money.
It all came courtesy of the Laugh Factory, the Hollywood-based comedy club which just finished its second global search for funny stand-ups with live competitions in Finland and online voting from everywhere. Ismo Leikola from Helsinki had won the Laugh Factory’s first of what will be biennial contests back in 2014, which is why Finland got to host the 2016 competition.
“Harith Iskander will act as an alternative ambassador for peace, the kind that brings diplomacy and builds bridges between countries and nations through smiles and laughter,” said Jamie Masada, the Laugh Factory’s founder.
Alex Calleja from the Phillippines finished runner-up and won $10,000. Katerina Vrana from Greece took home $5,000 for finishing third, while India’s Mino Van Nassau and Israel’s David Kilimnick rounded out the top five, each earning $1,000.
The Laugh Factory provided the prize money and put on the “Funniest Person in the World” contest in partnership with Indi.com
Eighty-nine comedians from 56 countries participated in the initial round online, where their videos received 25 million views — the top 20 vote-getters advanced to the semi-finals in Finland; the top five from a combination of judges in Helsinki and global online votes made it to the cash finals in Levi.
Iskander received a government welcome and press conference upon arriving back in Malaysia, where his nation will host the finals of the next Funniest Person in the World contest in 2018.