Aaron Baarshack - we talk Stalin, Comedy and gatecrashing Windsor with the self-dubbed 'Prophetic Comedy Terrorist'

 Self dubbed Comedy Terrorist, Aaron Barshack, is best known for descending over the walls of Windsor into Prince William's 21st birthday dressed as Osama Bin Laden.  Since then he has been busying himself with a career in Stand Up comedy.  Despite his shows being described as monstrous by critics, Aaron seems to be getting a string of gigs and is rather pleased with the results. I meet the bearded gatecrasher in Kilburn one day for some tea and cakes to discuss all...



LB: So I believe you've just returned from Edinburgh? How was it?
AB: Great!

LB: How's the comedy career in general?
AB: Good! Going well.
(long pause)

LB: Um, What was the show?
AB: Well it's called Monsters from my Id and based on a quote from the novel 'Forbidden Planet' and it's all about the ego, the Id, the super ego, Hitler's art, Stalin's poetry and my getting in trouble for trying to show porn to Michael Jackson.

LB: What was that?
AB: Ohhhhh God. Someone phoned me up and said Jacko's in town. This was when Philip Green just opened Topshop and so we basically went to Topshop dressed as Jesus. Well not just Jesus! Just as any old profit really and we went round showing people porn. So we went round to Topshop and we tried to hijack Michael Jackson at the O2 centre because the only logical follow up to hijacking the Prince of Wales would be the King of Pop...So there we go. We couldn't get near Michael Jackson because he had real security but we did actually get a really nice picture of me showing the porn mag to Sir Phillip Green - the owner of Topshop - and I'll show it to you it's quite a nice little scene; the merchant, the profit and the whore!

    A lot of the other stuff in the show has to do with art, for example, when we hijacked the Hitler art exhibition in 2006. I went down to Cornwall with a friend of mine who's called Frank Sinazi. Frank Sinazi is a character, a lounge singer - can you imagine Frank Sinatra meets Adolf Hitler! And we went down to the auction room where they were having this auction of Hitler's watercolours, and I believe the Chapman brothers bought some actually. Anyway, each of the watercolours were going for about three or four grand. Frank had his hair slicked back and he had his stick-on mustache in his pocket and so we sat down in the room. Everyone had their cameras because they were expecting a protest - they held it in Cornwall because no way were they going to hold it in London and have loads of Jews demonstrate. The watercolours were much better than anything that I believe Brit Art has to offer right now. Anyway, I said to Frank, 'when the auctioneer hits 2,500 do a Hitler comb over, subtly. When he hits 2,750 then drop your head and put the mustache on, and then at 3,000 this is what I want you to do...' The auctioneer got to 2,500 and Frank surruptitiously put the mustache on and then when the auctioneers said 3,000 to the gentleman over there. Frank stood up and bid 6 million with a Hitler salute to which the whole place just collapsed in riotous laughter. And then he walked over to the painting and security threw us out to which point I said, 'They're throwing the Jews out! It's all starting all over again!'

That was all part for my show in Edinburgh - as was the Philip Green thing - as was looking at various dictators and the fact that a lot of them are frustrated artists. Stalin was a poet, Sudam Hussein wrote romance novels - so all these frustrated artists let the monsters of their id run riot and kill 40 million people because the don't get a room to express themsleves in. So that's what the show was about. 


 



LB: So would you describe your work as art/comedy? 
AB: One man shows, not strictly stand-up. 

LB: How does your art relate to religion and social conscience in general?

AB: I was brought up a conservative - in political terms - in a conservative, jewish household. It was sinagogue every Saturday etc. So I had religon shoved down my throat and I hate every religion, but I think it's very interesting to look at it from the point of view of art. I am probably the only man in the world who has the nickname 'Bin Laden' and 'Jesus'.  I happen to have done something that's made me synonymous with Bin Laden but also have this renaissance Christ-like look so I have used that with art in the past. After Mel Gibson made the 'Passion of Christ', we went to Israel and I dragged a cross up the same walk as Christ did with the cross. And I had a sign that said 'Making a Fool out of Myself in Public is my Passion', so I suppose it's related to absurdity and surrealism. For the crown of thorns I brought a red bowler hat and out of it I cut my crown of thorns.  I'm a huge fan of surrealism and I always appear on stage with a big lobster hanging from my chest. I've always been a huge fan of the Surrealist movement. Also, at end of my shows in Edinburgh, I said let's invent our own religon and asked the audience to give names for forbidden fruit, the holy book, when our sabbath day should be.. So it's very interactive.  I have that apathetic prophetic look. 


LB: So you're inspired by surrealism. Any current art you like?
AB: Gavin Turk's Nomad... I thought it was amazing. I thought it was a real person 'n' they'd just stuck him in a room n called it art. I didn't realise it was metal n stubbed my toe when I kicked it - it fuckin' hurt! 

LB: Hahaha. And obviosly your most famous for-

AB: Yeah, Windsor

LB:So was there an artistic concept behind this?
AB: No, there wasn't one.  It was just Monty Python and the Marx brothers. Python used to dress up as a woman and Chapman of the Marx brothers made fun out of Hitler at the height of his power. Also the war was going on, and so I just got the idea for a show called, 'Osama Likes it Hot,' where Osama and Suddam Hussein are on the run, and they have to dress up as women so that's how the whole thing came about... and then it was just a matter of jumping on the stage and saying 'This punchline's not being hijacked'.  So it was kinda Monty Python.  It was just kinda hijacking terrorism, ya know - 9/11 was our Kennedy moment and it came out of that... and just lots of luck, being able to jump over the wall and break into Windsor Castle, not get arrested and, you know, not get shot - which I probably would have done these days. How can you possibly top that? Prince William's birthday! I know how Osama feels. He can't top the twin towers if he really did do that. By the way, I did the William thing okay. It wasn't the CIA and I'm taking credit for it, okay...

lb: Ohh, so that's the conspircy?
AB: Yeah that's the conspiracy... that it wasn't me at all - it was the CIA and they got a man to dress up as me and they blamed it on me. 

LB: Why? 

AB: Because I'm a threat. I LIKE YOUR BAG! Your top also has a lovely artistic feel to it. 

LB: Oh, thank you! Going back to Windsor, what did Wills say when you jumped on the stage?
AB: Nothing, he laughed! He thought his brother Harry had set it up and his brother Harry thought he had set it up. It was pretty seamless.

LB: What was it like to have to make such a public apology?
AB: I don't think I did make an apology. Oh hang on! I did. I did I did I did! I was screwing around. All I was doing was what I call Chaufmanising.  I tribute to Andrew Chaufman because I went on ITV and they asked me what are you going to do with the money you've made from selling your story? I told them - lied - well, I'm going to donate five thousand to Phillp Morris the tobacco company.  Why? Because I like smoking. They looked at me like I was mad but I was just having fun. The whole summer was just a summer of fun.  I did make an apology but it was tongue in cheek. Everything that summer was tongue in cheek. Apart from throwing paint over the Chapman Brothers, which was done in May before the summer. That was what I was actually taken to prison for. Throwing paint over their work at the Museum of Modern Art. They said 'we have made the last taboo in art!' Well, apparently my chucking paint wasn't on! They're nancy boys with really soft punches. I can't remember who hit me Jake or Dinos but I remember sitting in the police car and just thinking, 'What a shit punch!' Fancy being called that? 'Enfant terrible', Ron 'n' Reggie yeah that puts the fear of God in you but Jake 'n' Deonos what are you gonna do? Ruin my game of charades? 

LB: What's your best joke?
AB: Me. That's it, I am the best joke. A never ending Joke. A joke on myself.  LB!

 

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