Barschak stonewalled at a hostile debut

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AARON Barschak, the "Comedy Terrorist", made his first appearance on the Edinburgh Fringe yesterday, when his show Osama Likes It Hot opened at the Smirnoff Underbelly.

As expected for a man whose previous comedy experience was limited to small venues and bar mitzvahs, Barschak struggled to maintain the attention of his audience with an hour of material.

He faced a hostile crowd, including representatives from the Daily Mail, the Independent, the Guardian and the Press Association.

Despite being advised to pull the show rather than face an increasingly unforgiving press, Barschak decided to go ahead, but suffered an obvious case of first-night nerves.

On Wednesday, after being confronted by a scrum of journalists and being dubbed a "talentless git", the comedian decided to ask newspapers not to send reviewers for the first few performances.

But in pursuit of their story, the press pack voted to ignore traditional Fringe etiquette and send undercover news reporters to expose Barschak as a comedy imposter.

Ironically, the Comedy Terrorist’s brightest moments came when he was discussing his lack of talent.

"I know you are trying to get away, but so am I actually," he confessed.

At the end of the show, when one of his self-depreciating comments earned a peal of laughter, Barschak asked: "Are you laughing because you know you are going to be able to leave soon?"

After the show he stripped to his underpants and stood for photographers in a crucifixion pose singing a line from the Beatles’ The Ballad of John and Yoko: "The way things are going, they’re going to crucify me".

Barschak said his first show was "rubbish", but vowed to continue for the rest of his Edinburgh run.

Meanwhile, at the Gilded Balloon press launch, fellow comedians were struggling to conceal their schadenfreude. Steve Frost, an improvisation master, said: "He knew what he was doing when he bought the beard."

But he added: "There are a lot of very good comedians who wouldn’t have been able to handle that sort of pressure."

Boothby Graffoe said he and the Australian comic Adam Hills had come up with a plan to rescue Barschak’s show.

He said: "Adam and I came up with the idea of writing him an hour of fantastic material and surprising everyone."