Yianni Agisilaou is well-placed to inspect “the line” when it comes to comedy. Apart from his solo show, he is the host of Comedians Against Humanity, where a revolving door of talent improvises scenarios based on answers from the infamous card game. One evening saw the terrific Tim Renkow riffing on a fictitious press conference in which all gay people were to be executed by “the Jews”. Mad, offensive, and utterly hilarious.
Yianni’s solo show is a less raucous, more thoughtful affair that, while perhaps lacking in outright hilarity, is an accessible, fascinating, and thoroughly enjoyable examination of what our triggers are, and how we present different facets of ourselves to the world. He suggests we have three faces: a “brochure” face we display to the general public, a more relaxed one to family and friends, and the sickening, twisted Gollum visage that we keep entirely to ourselves.
Agisilaou liberally peppers his act with profanity, including a Malcolm Tucker-like precision with the C-word. He’s probing the crowd; knocking at the walls to see which are solid, and which could come crumbling down with the right (or wrong) topic. The reason it works so well is because he is a thoroughly genial host of obvious great intelligence. A more confrontational comedian would have the audience on the defensive.
In fact, the framing theme of the act is a very clever method of getting across some really robust material in the guise of proper anthropology. It’s a worthy study, although the obvious outcome is that it’s impossible to gauge what can be considered beyond the pale. Anyone who has any insight into human behaviour at all would know that to be true so there aren’t any real epiphanic moments, but this is nevertheless an entirely worthwhile hour in the company of a man who takes joy in the wielding of words like the late, great George Carlin used to do.