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Yianni: Numb and Number: Fringe 2012

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Steve Bennett

If they gave out Edinburgh Comedy Awards for promotional YouTube videos, Yianni would be a shoo-in. The cleverly edited Rain Man scene with which he opens his show is sublime, impossible to match over the ensuing hour.

Nonetheless, the rest of Numb and Number is a confident, robust and finely delivered romp through the world of numbers, with a good ratio of laughs. It’s also more wide-ranging than the topic suggests, with the well-read Greek-Australian dropping in many other smart topics – not to mention a top tip for mail fraud, some musings on his national background and a bit of toilet humour to boot.

The premise is that he was diagnosed as being on the mild end of the autism spectrum earlier this year, a condition associated with inappropriate comments, lack of empathy and the desire to talk at excessive length on trivial topics. Which is pretty much the same as the definition of comedian.

This, he thought, explained his lifelong love of numbers, and this show he examines in reverse order the first 11 cardinals –  ten down to zero – and the associations with them. Ten is perfection, eight is symmetry, five is identity…

Hang on? Who links five with identity? Only Yianni who claims it’s because it was at age five he became aware of his identity. Yet so convincing and charming is he that such obvious nonsense is glossed over. Oh, and six is ‘racism’. The most bigoted of the numbers.

But the show is so cleverly packaged around its idea, that the fact it’s essentially ten separate stand-up routines is skilfully disguised. And enough are on-theme, such as his love of the sum £88.88 for all sorts of delightfully nerdy reasons, that will keep the numerophiles happy.

Actually, everyone will be kept happy through this pacy show. Yianni’s not an overly-emotive performer, but he’s clearly enjoying chatting to us all, making his interaction with the audience, both implict and explicit, thoroughly endearing.

The script is tight, and full of sneaky wordplay and intelligent observations, making for a satisfying and enjoyable hour that rarely dips. It perhaps needs a touch more surprise or memorable set piece to really stand out from the crowd – but it’s solid stuff with frequent laughs, and definitely the best show this frequent Fringe visitor has ever brought to Edinburgh.

Review date: 13 Aug 2012
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: PBH Free Fringe @ Canons' Gait

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