I should get help... | Yianni Agisilaou has big ask for a big challenge

I should get help...

Yianni Agisilaou has big ask for a big challenge

As Chortle has previously reported, as part of my Edinburgh Fringe show Think Big, I have booked the main auditorium of the EICC for a one-off gig on Sunday August 25 at 6pm.  I hope that with enough self-belief, hard work and a little bit of luck that I will walk onto that stage to perform to 1m200 people.

Interestingly, last night I walked out onto that very same stage and performed to 1,200 people as part of a wonderful bill at the Big C Gala to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support.

It’s been about seven years since I performed to an audience of that size.  I’d forgotten the slight differences in timing, the need to slow down, to give your jokes time to journey to all corners of the room, stop for a pint and then venture back.  It was a wonderful experience, very inspiring, very addictive and hopefully a prescient look at things to come in two week’s time. 

I like to be able to visualise things that I want to achieve, and having such a recent, visceral replica to call on is a real help.  That said, at the moment I am a long way off replicating that experience. A very long way.

This no doubt sounds extremely naïve, but selling 1,200 seats is proving a lot harder than I thought.  I thought that the idea itself would be an easy sell, and maybe it still is. Anyone I speak to about it says that they want it to work, that they will come, or if they’ll have left town by then, that they would have come.  Maybe everyone’s coming but no one’s going to pre-book.  But it hasn’t at any point tipped over into a torrent of ticket sales.

When I conceived of this show, I wanted to exile myself from my comfort zone.  For better or for worse, I’ve certainly done that.  This hasn’t been an easy or comfortable experience; I spent the first week of the Fringe feeling overwhelmed and depressed which obviously didn’t help anything.  I realise now that my fear of failure was engulfing me, rendering me inert.  However, on Saturday I hit a point where that panic and anxiety just dissipated and were replaced with an attitude of, ‘Let’s just do this and see what happens.’

And now, strangely I feel a serene sense of belief and faith that this crazy endeavour will still be a success.  Why is this?  Perhaps I’m now floating, divorced from my ego in the zen ‘zone’ that people sometimes describe?  Or maybe it’s just Week 2 Fringe delirium?

Whatever it is, part of the reason I have faith is the amazing response I have had from other people to this quest.  I have been extremely humbled by people’s genuine desire to help make this work.  Assistance has come from many angles, from my friend Geraint who gave me 50 organic cotton hoodies for free to sell as merch, to other comedians happy to use their profile to help me promote this venture.  For example, Ed Byrne will be my support act if I sell more tickets than him on the 25th and Mark Watson is going to face me at Ro Campbell’s ‘Comedian Rap Battles’ on Thursday night.  This list is constantly growing as others offer any assistance they can give. 

As someone who has traditionally been terrible at asking for help, to say this has been something of a revelation is probably an understatement.  But it has taught me something.  That asking is probably one of the most powerful things in the world. 

As much as I will be dissing him mercilessly via verse on Thursday night, this is one of the things I really admire about Mark Watson’s 24 hour shows. If any show encompasses the creative power of the coming together of giving and receiving, the 24 hour shows are it.

I think people want it to succeed, for the same reason that I wanted to do it in the first place.  Because we all want to live in a world where you can have a big idea, a harebrained scheme and for that scheme to work!  Let’s call it comedic social mobility.

I also believe in the creative power of this festival. I believe in Edinburgh and it’s ability to make seemingly foolish things a reality. As I write this I can hear people enthusing about The Wrestling.  Nuff said.

I don’t know if I’m going to sell around a thousand seats in a week and a half.  But I’m certainly going to have a lot of fun finding out.  I hope that everyone involved in shows at this Fringe can harness that positive spirit of asking for help and most importantly, receiving it. 

If anyone reading can help me to make this crazy endeavor succeed, I will gratefully and gracefully receive it.  Whether it’s helping to flyer for an hour on the last weekend of the Fringe or the ability to get it some press coverage or something awesome that I haven’t thought of and you have, the truth of the matter is that I cannot do this alone.  And, to point out something that’s painfully obvious but has been really difficult for me to accept, that’s okay.

Please contact me at yianni_a@me.com

• Yianni: Think Big’ at the Dram House Upstairs at 16:45 and at the EICC on August 25. He tweets at @yianni_a.

Published: 14 Aug 2013

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