The first of the bunch up from London to take to the stage in the Community and Arts Centre on Saturday night was the MC for the night, Yianni Agisilaou, a comic from Australia who prides himself on not having picked up a London accent. He can use one when he wants though and he possesses impressive range of other accents (almost a prerequisite for a successful comedian). Accents provided him with a rich seam of jokes; the pal he had who came back to Oz with an American accent after just a few weeks in the states for example. He made light too of the difference between the New Zealand and the Australian accent, subtleties that may be lost on a few people but as different as the Scots and Irish accents apparently to the trained and knowledgeable ear. He took the piss out of the Greek economy and their begging bowl act at the EU with the help of his own Oz/Greek background.
That got Yianni into talking about family and careers, he told the Comedy@Nairn regulars and newbie’s that he had been training to be lawyer but became a comedian (looking increasingly like a bad move according to Yiannia). His family had wanted him to be a priest and that involved telling stories that may, or
may not, be true to gatherings of people. Yianni thought the roles were very much the same and on the back of that he launched into a flurry of mild irreverence. It didn’t take him long to notice people looking at the familiar figure of the Rev Steve sitting on the left of the hall. Steven, a natural himself in a different way, commanded his usual cheery gravitas and made a few gestures in return to Yiannia’s stream of Saturday night consciousness. Yianni offered Rev Steve the microphone but he declined, no doubt he could have made a stylish participation but it was his night off after all. It was good craic and cranked up the entertainment value a notch or two.
Yiannia went on to be phased by the diverse occupations to be harvested from the floor: naval architect, fighter pilot (spitfires), diary worker. Sometimes folk in the audience lie and a comedy cul de sac rears its ugly head for a comedian but no shortage of other routes for a talent like Yianni when that blatantly happens Once a competent comedian has your job out of you then hang onto your seat. There was a guy with a surname that was just as hard to pronounce as Yiannia’s. He suggested they started up a business, it would have to be a big office though, simply to get the names on the sign above the window. Yainni’s website claims: “Yianni is a headliner all around the world with a mind as sharp as a ginsu blade. His ability to deliver smart but accessible laugh packed material and also to improvise skilfully with whatever a room throws at him combine to create a truly unique experience.” There couldn’t have been many there on Saturday night that came away willing to disagree with that. Another sparkling talent to grace the Wildnight Comedy stage in Nairn.
Yianni introduced Ava Vidal, an ex-prison officer with impeccable London credentials. She used family and race a fair bit, telling us of conversations with her Jewish husband about the sufferings of both black and jewish peoples in the past. A tricky one for comic purposes perhaps but Ava pulled that off and using family too. I wonder if her kids like being exploited for humour so much that it is an integral part of their mum’s career? Maybe they love it and even help by
dreaming up more scenarios that can be transformed into entertainment – the more outrageous, the more pocket money earned? She talked about her time as a prison officer. She wasn’t nasty to the inmates like some and allowed them to practise their religion as much as possible – for instance, by letting a Jehovah’s Witness go round knocking on all the cell doors – hard for the occupants to pretend they were not in apparently. This observer had expected that to expand with more anecdotes about prison life, it didn’t happen but she had no shortage of gags to keep the wildnighters laughing. Her London persona translated well into the Nairn surroundings too. Ava, that was good craic, hope you come back again, will you be bringing the kids next time?
And so it was big Bob Mills to round off the night. The sliding scale of authentic London credentials went off the register with this Comedy maestro. We’d had really good entertainment so far and now we really got lift off from Bob. He didn’t worry about intruding into referendum territory too. To him it was simply a bit like the neighbours having a row and sorting it out for themselves – he made the allusion of sometimes putting the glass to the wall to find out what is going on but not getting involved. He took the piss out of the politicians involved though, much to everyone’s joy. The experience of beautiful Nairn beach had given his non-involvement strategy a wee wobble though, he admitted wondering if, in return for Independence, it could be swapped for Billericay shopping centre. Such were Bob’s musings and he did a pretty good central belt accent too. He admitted being a bit of a big bloke and said he would do anything to get rid of some weight, apart from exercise and not eating food. Bob used his weight for further
self-depreciation purposes with a tale of being mistaken for a stranded whale by Greenpeace activists on a Mauritius beach. His tales of all the sorts of audiences he has to perform for was another rich mine of laughs, university audiences, stag and hen nights, once in someone’s house, and of course receptive audiences like Nairn where it can’t really go wrong – the presence of so many couples apparently lets comedians know they are there for a good night. The skilful visiting humourist piled on the laughs and too quickly time marched on and the end of the night’s entertainment neared as Bob made his farewell gag but it was not quite all over yet.
Yianni got a laugh or two more out of the finishing moments: “I guess this is where we all go back to our normal lives,” was one of Yianni’s final comments. The show was over but it wasn’t quite straight back to normality, it was still Saturday night after all. All were still elevated and in the cheerful place where the funny folk can get you to when they do their business well. Another great bunch of comedians grace the floor at the Community and Arts Centre – Nairn’s comedy profile rises another notch.
My NZ cousins tell me that the "Beached Whale" cartoons are the best way for us to distinguish between out antipodean friends. Available of You Tube.
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