Edinburgh Festival Fringe: Jerry Sadowitz hits back at criticism over ‘extreme’ material and walk-outs

Controversial Scottish stand-up comic Jerry Sadowitz has hit back at claims the plug had to be pulled on his latest show because of its “extreme” racism, sexism, homophobia and misogyny.

The Glaswegian stand-up and magician, who has been performing at the festival since the 1980s, said his venue operator had “cheapened and simplified” his act with its condemnation and insisted he was offended by people walking out.

The Pleasance claims “the line was crossed” by Sadowitz and insisted it had a duty to respond after an “unprecedented” number of complaints over the Glaswegian performer’s show at the EICC from people who felt “uncomfortable and unsafe”.

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However, Sadowitz has called on the Pleasance to apologise to the hundreds of fans who bought tickets for the show that was scrapped on Saturday after the first show on Friday night.

Sadowitz has also accused the Pleasance of “doubling down” on its position over the cancellation of his show, which artistic director Anthony Alderson said “does not align with our values” and “has no place on the festival”.

Sadowitz is said to have exposed himself on stage, delivered a racial slur directed at Chancellor Rishi Sunak, and made other derogatory comments about women and people of colour.

A lengthy statement issued by the Pleasance stated: “In a changing world, stories and language that were once accepted on stage, whether performed in character or not, need to be challenged. There is a line that we will not cross and it was our view that this line was crossed on this occasion.

“We don’t vet the full content of acts in advance and while Jerry Sadowitz is a controversial comedian, we could not have known the specifics of his performance.”

Scottish stand-up and magician Jerry Sadowitz had his Fringe show pulled by the Pleasance at the weekend.Scottish stand-up and magician Jerry Sadowitz had his Fringe show pulled by the Pleasance at the weekend.
Scottish stand-up and magician Jerry Sadowitz had his Fringe show pulled by the Pleasance at the weekend.

In a response posted on social media, Sadowitz said: “I don’t wish to humiliate the Pleasance, but they are doubling down on their position and I don’t want to be made the victim of that.

“I repeat ...I did a 75-minute show for 600 people that went pretty well and left with no hint of anything going wrong.

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“In addition to now being told there were multiple walk-outs and ‘abuse of staff’, my act is now being cheapened and simplified as unsafe, homophobic, misogynistic and racist.

“I am not J** Davidson folks. A lot of thought goes into my shows and while I don’t always get it right, especially at the speed I speak...and I don’t always agree with my own conclusions (!)...I am offended by those who, having never seen me before, HEAR words being shouted in the first five minutes before storming out without LISTENING to the material which I am stupid enough to believe is funny, sometimes important and worth saying.

“Additionally, there's a lot of silly, exaggerated irony and nonsense, real and exaggerated anger and bile, and even getting my d**k out is for the purpose of the funny line which follows it. (No I won't tell you what it is… see the show for yourself… or better still... just stay at home).

“The show is what it is, for those who enjoy it. The rest of you... please stick to Carry On films.

“PS: If the Pleasance can't apologise to me they should at least apologise to the people who paid for and travelled to see the show on Saturday.”

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