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"When I started my career 26 years ago, my goal was to unite Malaysians through comedy and today, I can unite the world with my brand of Malaysian humour," said newly-minted world's funniest person Harith Iskander.

Harith, 50, who was crowned the winner of the Laugh Factory's 'Funniest Person in the World' (LFFPITW) competition held in Helsinki, Finland today, told Bernama when contacted that he was excited and thrilled to have won the title.

The stand-up comedy king said he was glad to be able to wave the Malaysian flag on an international platform, adding that it was about time for him to put Malaysian comedy on the world map.

"I'm absolutely grateful to have fans all over Malaysia and South-East Asia as well as places like the United Kingdom, Denmark and Australia to support my back. It's never possible without my fans.

"The press has also given me full support, so that's always phone has not stopped ringing with messages of congratulations," he said.

Harith laughed his way ahead of four other contenders - Alex Calleja (the Philipines) who was runner-up, followed by Katerina Vrana (Greece), Mino Van Nassau (India) and David Kilimnick (Israel).

As the winner of the coveted title, he bagged US$100,000 (over RM400,000) and a comedy tour in the United States, while Calleja went home with US$10,000 and Vrana US$5,000.

The popular comedian, who is also an actor and television host, expressed his utmost gratitude to Tourism and Culture Minister Mohamed Nazri Aziz for supporting him on his journey at the Nordic country.

"They (ministry) had covered my flights and accommodation, which was a great help.

"I proudly wore the Tourism Malaysia shirt on stage to show my gratefulness," he quipped.

The LFFPITW competition consists of three rounds, namely Round One, whereby 89 comedians from 56 countries around the world battled to earn top 20 place in Round Two (Semi Final) before five lucky winners competed in Round Three (Final).

Another comedian from Malaysia, Dr Jason Leong, also took part in the competition but lady luck was not on his side as he was eliminated in Round One.

- Bernama