AFTER reviews which were called the "worst in the history of the Fringe", comedy terrorist Aaron Barschak finished his run in triumphant mode yesterday.
Audience reaction has become so positive that the management at the Underbelly are now trying to find time to put on three extra shows.
Watching Barschak perform can be excruciating at times, but after three weeks of being marinated in the comedy maelstrom of Edinburgh in August, the inexperienced comic has begun to find his voice.
"This is my last show and I just want to have some fun," yelled Barschak.
After his final show, the comedian admitted he arrived in Edinburgh without an act.
"What hurt was the fact I deserved the bad reviews I got, absolutely without doubt. I was delusional, thinking I could come up and conquer Edinburgh. But I didn’t write a script."
After the furore over the Windsor Castle gatecrashing, Barschak accepted interview after interview, and entered a round of celebrity parties rather than working on his show.
But instead of backing out of his show, Osama Likes It Hot, as some advised him to do, Barschak decided to brazen it out and try to have fun.
"The show has changed every day and I’m writing new things every day. I don’t care what the critics say now because I can feel it in my heart when I’ve done a good show."
Barschak has treated his three-week run in Edinburgh as a "comedy workshop", and watched scores of other comics failing and succeeding at their craft. "It’s much more difficult to make people laugh than to make people cry. If you can do comedy you can do anything."
Although he originally feared the other comedians hated him, he has discovered himself to be among friends.
"They have been absolutely brilliant, Jimmy Carr, Daniel Kitson, and lots of others have been really positive. There are a few people in the comedy industry who aren’t too keen on me because I hijacked comedy clubs - but most comedians have been great."
But Barschak, whose show involves getting members of the audience to re-enact the Windsor gatecrashing incident, and uses extracts from the official police report into the incident, has not given up his mission to shake up the comedy world.
"I don’t know if I’ll carry on doing stunts. I’m a spontaneous person, I don’t plan. There’s no anarchy left in comedy. Everything is so planned, It has become like the music industry in the 1970s before punk."
Barschak plans to continue developing his act, to make it more structured and work on the material, but to keep the anarchic elements and interaction with the audience.
"I definitely want to carry on with the comedy. But it is just one of the things I’m planning to do."
In future, he has his eye on cable television, believing an explosion of small independently run cable channels is imminent, in the same way that small music labels suddenly sprang up everywhere during the punk rock years.
Barschak has acquired a new confidence. "I’ll never have to face this kind of pressure again. Now I have been through this, I don’t think I can be hurt by what people think any more."
Kate Copstick, a Perrier judge and comedy critic for The Scotsman, went to see Barschak’s show two days ago and was astonished to find how much she enjoyed it.
"I came up here and I didn’t want to see him and I didn’t want to review him.
"But there are not that many comics in Edinburgh that I’ve seen who I want to see again, and I definitely want to see him again. I want to see where he’s going."
Fraser Smith, of Hothouse Publicity 2, was one of those who believed Barschak should cancel his show rather than admit his lack of experience, but said he admired him for carrying on regardless: "You have to admire the guy’s guts for going ahead with it. From what I’m hearing, his show is just getting better.
"The Fringe is a great opportunity to learn. A month in Edinburgh is like five months’ experience on the comedy circuit, and it sounds like he has taken advantage of that."