Yianni: Why Did the Chicken Cross the Line?

This year, Yianni explores “the line”: how do we cross the line in telling jokes, and who decides where it is? He conducts his investigation through a series of anecdotes and deconstructions that make for a thoroughly enjoyable hour. The nature of this show, and it seems the comic himself, is very friendly and relaxed.

He leads his audience to a certain affection for him that makes his set enjoyable despite the slower moments.

It’s an intimate gig, and Yianni’s clear strength is his ability to naturally play off his audience without missing a beat or making anyone feel too uncomfortable (unless that’s his intention). He involves the audience for this show as a part of his routine, and does so to great effect, relaxing the atmosphere.

He takes his subject seriously, taking it apart with skill and humour, but not himself, which means that his show is light-hearted while discussing much deeper issues than his tone indicates. The show relies solely on the quality of the routine, having no slides or gimmicks to fall back on.

For the most part, this stripped-back direction works well, though some jokes fall flat. But he always recovers with good humour, never becoming desperate and taking it in his stride, leading his audience to a certain affection for him that makes his set enjoyable despite the slower moments.

He clearly doesn’t take himself too seriously which means the more controversial punchlines in his set lose power; they're deconstructed in too friendly a way. Likewise, the more surreal touches to the set, while excellent within themselves, don’t necessarily gel with the rest.

In some ways, he achieves what many ‘offensive’ comedians do: making offence funny by breaking it down. But this is not pushed as far as it could be, perhaps because the audience-based nature of his style prevents him from cultivating the necessary distance.

This leaves the show somewhere in the middle: not quite the all-out, in-depth examination of offence seen with other comedians such as Brendon Burns (though with all of the requisite intelligence), but not an entirely fun-filled hour free of any tension or deeper thought. That said, this a well-constructed set that leaves you guessing and continues to surprise. It has plenty of highlights – be sure to stay for the finale.

Reviews by Laurie Kilmurry

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

After receiving an email from a booker requesting no comedians on their bill make jokes about rape, paedophilia or Lady Diana, comedian Yianni wondered just where and what the line was. What happens if jokes cross it? Is it even real? A sharp edged show full of wit, cheek and fun which rummages through the serious business of taking things lightly, and wonders just where funny ends and what’s on the other side. 'Stunningly good' **** (Scotsman). ‘Social commentary to compare favourably with Woody Allen’ **** (Chortle.co.uk). Total sell-out, Perth Fringe 2015.

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