Comedy review: Jerry Sadowitz, Albert Halls, Stirling

Jerry Sadowitz’s response to having his show cancelled at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe? Quadrupling down on the outrage, writes Jay Richardson

Jerry Sadowitz: Not For Anyone, Albert Halls, Stirling ***

With the dust now settled on the controversy surrounding Jerry Sadowitz’s briefest of runs at the Edinburgh Fringe, where the second of two planned shows at the Pleasance was pulled by the venue following complaints, the man himself took this opportunity to put the cancellation into context. Amidst the bitter recriminations, he reminded us that this year’s Fringe show was merely the latest in a long line of ill-starred bookings, from Channel 5 hoiking his television show, to his infamous appearance at the Just for Laughs festival in Montreal in 1991, where he mocked French Canadians.

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Quadrupling down on the outrage, he imagined a devilishly funny encounter between the Queen and Jimmy Savile in death, and he was simply, straightforwardly offensive with his comments on Saturday’s petrol station explosion in Donegal. He made light of the threat to show his penis, an issue in Edinburgh, repeated the p-word in reference to Rishi Sunak, and arguably went further in his characterisation of Kwasi Kwarteng, whose name he insisted on mangling, with a visual gag so cartoonishly racist I would argue it’s impossible to take seriously as hate speech.

Scottish stand-up comedian and magician Jerry Sadowitz
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There was an occasional, unsettling, unironic burst of applause for some of his most vile tirades – and perhaps rather more insecurity than before in the sheer number of times he branded himself as an equal opportunities offender, telling us that we’re “all c***s”.

Despite the excess of his vitriol, it does have a twisted internal logic, borne of nihilism and the suggestion of shadowy, super-rich cabals controlling the world. Interspersed with the often brilliant, barefaced conmanship of the “dashing young conjurer’s” exceptional sleight of hand as he capered through card tricks, Sadowitz’s unfiltered spleen was often simply thrillingly wrong: the lurid descriptions he shared for coronavirus, monkeypox etc showcasing exceptional verbal dexterity, his tongue-in-cheek admiration for Vladimir Putin a mischievous flight from reality.

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Only when he veered into ranting for ranting’s sake – demanding bisexuals pick a side, maintaining at length that scientists are simply making it all up – did his shtick lurch into tired self-parody. In the main, he retained a scabrous, sick vitality, justifying his absolute disdain for the crowd-pleasing comics who’ve followed him.