Jerry Sadowitz: why was Edinburgh Fringe live stand up show cancelled, which jokes were offensive?

The controversial comedian has hit back at his Fringe venue after it cancelled his show

Scottish stand-up comedian and magician Jerry Sadowitz was banned from continuing his Fringe show by the Pleasance.Scottish stand-up comedian and magician Jerry Sadowitz was banned from continuing his Fringe show by the Pleasance.
Scottish stand-up comedian and magician Jerry Sadowitz was banned from continuing his Fringe show by the Pleasance.

Following complaints from venue staff and audience members, Scottish comedian Jerry Sadowitz has had his Edinburgh Fringe show cancelled.

The comic and magician was scheduled to perform at The Pleasance at Edinburgh International Conference Centre on Friday and Saturday (12 and 13 August).

But The Pleasance announced that the second night would be cancelled because his material "does not align with our values."

Jerry Sadowitz: Not for Anyone was the title of the show, and contained "strong language and themes that some may find distressing."

He said on Twitter: “Did a show last night, 75 mins, thought it went well. Didn’t see any walkouts.

“Today I’m told my show’s been cancelled. Great stuff. I’m truly sorry for everyone who travelled to see the show tonight.”

Why was the show cancelled?

Sadowitz, 61, an American-born Scot, is known for his brash stand-up routines - in Montreal in 1991, he was famously knocked unconscious on stage by an enraged audience member after insulting French Canadians.

The Pleasance declined to comment on which aspects of Sadowitz’s material caused the cancellation, but he has been alleged to have used a racist term and exposed his penis to an audience member.

One audience member told The Sun: “I was at the show. He called Rishi Sunak a ‘p***’ and said the economy was awful because it is run ‘by blacks and women’.

“He got his penis out to a woman in the front row. The problem was not the audience – I knew he was an acquired taste. It was his indefensible content.”

The Pleasance’s director, Anthony Alderson, said: “The Pleasance is a venue that champions freedom of speech and we do not censor comedians’ material.

“While we acknowledge that Jerry Sadowitz has often been controversial, the material presented at his first show is not acceptable and does not align with our values.

“This type of material has no place on the festival and the Pleasance will not be presenting his second and final show.”

In a further statement on Sunday, The Pleasance said: "We became immediately aware of content that was considered, among other things, extreme in its racism, sexism, homophobia and misogyny.

"We will not associate with content which attacks people's dignity and the language used on stage was, in our view, completely unacceptable.

"We received an unprecedented number of complaints that could not be ignored and we had a duty to respond."

What has Jerry Sadowtiz said in new statement?

Last night (14 August) Sadowitz issued a new statement of his own, saying he “did a 75 minute show for 600 people that went pretty well and left with no hint of anything going wrong”.

His statement continues: “In addition to now being told there were multiple walkouts and "abuse of staff" my act is now being cheapened and simplified as unsafe, homophobic, misogynistic and racist.

“I am not J** D******* folks… a lot of thought goes into my shows and while I don’t always get it right, especially at the speed of which 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 dick 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).

“I ask nobody to agree with anything I say or do on stage... God forbid they should end up like me... and I have never ONCE courted a mainstream audience to come to my shows because guess what??? In real life, I really DON'T don’t want to upset anyone… including Anthony Alderson*.

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

“P.S. If the Pleasance can't apologise to me they should at least apologise to the 300 people who paid for and travelled to see the show on Saturday."