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Yianni Agisilaou: They @#$% You Up, Greek Parents

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Steve Bennett

It’s little surprise that the title of Yianni Agisilaou’s Fringe show has attracted a couple of Greek mums to the front row – and he should be thankful that they came, as the knowing banter he exchanges with them adds greatly to what’s on offer.

It’s a welcome dash of spontaneity in a show that desperately needs it, as he comes across as overly scripted with a delivery that feels forced. He often appears to be trying too hard, with exaggerated movements and wooden re-enactment of scenes from his life – yet when he relaxes, he proves much more engaging. A sketch involving him impersonating his parents impersonating each other spins off into a hugely elaborate and irrelevant tangent that it’s hard to care about, where the only real laugh is one of relief when it ends, but there’s humanity in his genuine exchanges with the small audience.

Nor does he particularly bring much to the usual shtick of any comic with ethnic parents, needing the heightened accent he gives his Cypriot mum and dad to underline the jokes, and rolling out stereotypes about them being no-nonsense and old-fashioned, desperately wanting him to find a nice Cypriot girl. He tells us Greeks are all ‘charming but arrogant’… but obviously they can’t be – just like not all English people are emotionally reserved – but he needs the broad-brush approach as shorthand.

In this rather unexciting landscape, however, lie some great standalone jokes and the odd interesting routine, like monoliths emerging from a featureless desert. His sarcastic response to the familiar comment about his competency with the Greek language: ‘You understand more than you speak’ is particularly well done.

Overall this feels like a show from a competent, pleasant comic – nothing more exciting than that. But then, it’s nothing worse either.

Review date: 19 Aug 2010
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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