Thinking big...

Relatively unknown comic books himself into Fringe's largest venue

A relatively unknown comic has booked himself into the biggest venue at the Edinburgh Fringe, in what he hopes will be a triumph of positive thinking.

Yianni Agisilaou is to play the 1,200-seat EICC venue on August 25, following a three-week run at a Free Fringe venue.

He hopes to inspire the audience who saw him for nothing more than a voluntary donation over the festival to pay £10 to see a ‘best of’ set at the end of the Fringe, at a venue that is also hosting such Fringe stalwarts as Ed Byrne and Jimeoin.

Australian-born Agisilaou says he was inspired to take the leap after witnessing what audiences could make happen at Mark Watson’s marathon festival shows, as well as being encouraged by the success of his 2012 festival show, which he produced himself.

He said: ‘I liked my show last year, but I felt I didn't really make it personal enough or delve deep enough into my fears and vulnerabilities... [because] I was scared to do that.  So I thought doing a show about thinking big and why we don't follow through on our big thoughts was a ripe, accessible and personal topic for a show. 

‘When I started comedy I used to watch comedians play big venues and think, "I'd love to play a venue this big someday, but I'm not good enough to do that yet.”  Nowadays I watch comedians in massive venues and think, "I'd love to play a venue this big, and I am good enough.  Why aren't I?" 

‘For years I'd think up myriad excuses like "I'm not on TV" or “I’m not with a big agent like Off The Kerb or Avalon”. But I've been to Edinburgh enough times to know that the festival itself is long enough that with hard work and a quality product, you can make things happen there.  

‘Edinburgh loves a story and everyone loves an underdog, so I thought "Why not?"  Everyone says that I'm putting a big target on myself by doing this. I have no problem with that, even though it's terrifying.  And really, what's the worst that can happen?  No one comes?  I'll write an Edinburgh show about that next year!

‘I took part in Mark Watson's 25-Hour show this year and have always loved the foolhardy nature of them.  The reason they work is that if you set a small goal, people will wish you the best and then leave you alone to do it.  But if you set a big goal, a goal so big that there's no way you can achieve it on your own, and then have the humility to ask people for help, then they really get on board and help you to achieve it.

‘So that was the idea.  A goal that is unachievable on my own.  The humility to ask for help.  And the self-belief that it can be done.’

Agisilaou is not the first relatively unknown comedian to try to sell out a sizeable venue on their own initiative. Last year, Sanderson Jones booked the 400-capacity Sydney Opera House studio and sold all the tickets personally, following success selling out London’s 800-capacity Union Chapel the same way.

Agisilaou will be performing his free show, Think Big, at WIlkie House at 16:45 from August 3 to 24, followed by the Big Show on the 25th.

Published: 15 May 2013

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