In his hugely popular free show Think Big, Yianni sets out his ambition to sell-out the biggest venue at the Fringe, have Michael 'HackIntyre' open for him and to enter the stage 'down a death slide into a pile of £50 notes'. Well, he hasn't sold out the show's finale at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre - and nor is there any sign of the slide or the money-pile - but he has managed to put together a good show, which plays to an enthusiastic audience. And he even has support from a rather famous comic.
Ed Byrne, it transpires, had made a bet with Yianni: if Yianni sold more tickets than he did, then Byrne would do five minutes' support for The Big One. Yianni hasn't sold anywhere near as many (around 350 of a possible 1200 seats), but Byrne is on-stage anyway warming up the crowd – such is his affection for the ambitious newcomer.
Although Yianni's entrance is resolutely slide-free, he does assume the grandiose posture of an overly tall child playing with a very expensive toy: all smoke and flashing lights. The EICC is, of course, a very expensive toy indeed, and Yianni seems determined to get his money's worth, performing a broad, stadium-ready set of observation and one-liners. Without any kind of through-line or over-arching progression, this show is in many ways less ambitious than the comic's free one and the more pedestrian, commercial style actually dampens some of his usual idiosyncrasies.
At first Yianni looked uneasy on such a big stage but as he settled into the role, he became more fluid and got many of his biggest laughs for on-the-spot audience stuff, capitalizing on the pre-existing rapport that his free show has created. It's a mutual adoration: the relatively small audience manage to make a lot of noise and applaud raucously whenever Yianni does something especially performative; and he loves to play up to us.
There's a story from the original show about Yianni selling lamingtons door-to-door as a school child in Australia. In the end, his dad had to rescue the endeavour by buying them all. He's had no such help selling out this gig and perhaps it was not quite as he imagined it would be. Yet, in other ways, it was plenty full enough: full of invention and mirth with an audience full of awe for a new comic firmly establishing himself as a Fringe favourite. The Big One was a small triumph in a big room.