Small-venue Fringe comic books 1200 seater EICC

Yianni Agisilou. Picture: contributed

Yianni Agisilou. Picture: contributed

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Yianni Agisilaou has spent years playing to audiences of just 80 people on the notoriously tough comedy circuit.

But now the Fringe comic has decided to think big – by aiming to sell out one of the Fringe’s biggest venues.

The comedian, 35, who is originally from Australia but lives in London, has booked the 1200-seater EICC for August 25.

And the relatively unknown comedian has admitted the show is no joke, as he is relying on the kindness of strangers to fill the venue.

He said: “I’ll be performing my show Think Big at the Free Fringe every day of the Festival and I’m hoping that people who’ve come along and seen me for nothing will get into the spirit of things by buying a ticket for the big show, which will be a kind of greatest hits set.”

Yianni will be spending most of the Fringe in the 150-seat Wilkie House venue, already a step up from the 80 seater Canon’s Gait he played in 2012.

The comic, who began performing 15 years ago and has been a professional comedian for the past eight, said the idea came to him while he was exploring his own biggest fears.

He explained: “I was at the festival last year and while I was happy with the show, I did feel that I played it a little bit safe by not making it as ­personal as it could have been.

“It made me think about how as humans we are often ruled by our fears, and the ­limits that makes us put on ourselves.

“I’d always wanted to play a massive venue, but kept giving myself reasons not to go ahead and do it. Well, this year, I’m just going to do it and I really hope Edinburgh will get behind me.”

While he won’t reveal how much money he stands to lose if the challenge falls flat and the crowds don’t show up, he feels it will be worth it either way.

“Every year I’ve come to Edinburgh my own money has been at stake, and it’s the same for most performers.

“Obviously I’m hoping it will be a success but if I do end up performing to twelve people in a 1200 seater room then at least I know what next years show is going to be about.”

Other acts performing at the EICC this year include household names such as Jason Manford, Ed Byrne and up and coming Scottish sensation Daniel Sloss. EICC Head of Sales and Marketing. Louise Andrew said: “We look forward to giving Yianni the star treatment and lets hope he gets a full house as his reward for thinking big.”

Just the ticket

YIANNI is by no means the first act to bring a risky idea to the Festival.

In 2008 US comedian Doug Stanhope hit the headlines after he put a single ticket – priced £7349 – on sale for a one-night only show.

The star said the price represented the average cash lost playing one of the four big Fringe venues – the Gilded Balloon, the Pleasance, the Underbelly and the Assembly.

He said: “The big agents in the Edinburgh Comedy Festival are acting like douche-bags – they are trying to monopolise a festival which is for everyone and [they] could easily take a much smaller stake.”

Though no-one bought the ticket, Stanhope sold out the rest of his run.