Finland comic wins world's funniest competition

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LOS ANGELES (AP) - The winner of the Funniest Person in the World competition is a brown-haired, slightly rotund stand-up comic from Finland who boasts he has hit on the perfect solution to the planet's international monetary woes.

"Countries don't owe money to each other, countries owe money to banks," says Ismo Leikola. "If the countries owe money to banks how stupid are the countries to pay. Like the country has an army. The bank has four cashiers and a cleaning lady."

When Leikola told that joke in the semifinal round of the competition last week at the Laugh Factory in Hollywood it got the biggest laugh of the night.

From there the Finnish comedian bankrolled himself to victory at Friday night's final round, a five-comic showdown at the Laugh Factory in Las Vegas. The competition was streamed over the Internet.

When the votes were counted Monday, Leikola had 158,945. In second place was Saad Haroon of Pakistan with 59,213.

Mustapha El Atrassi of France was third, Nitin Mirani of United Arab Emirates was fourth and Archie Bezos of Spain was fifth.

Leikola wins $10,000 and a national comedy tour.

The competition was the brainchild of Laugh Factory owner Jamie Masada, who plans to make it an annual event. He said he hopes it can show the world that if people from different countries laugh together they can set aside other differences.

Dozens of comics from around the world entered. Online voters narrowed the competition to 10 semifinalists, then five finalists before the final showdown in Las Vegas.

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