‘Unacceptable’ Jerry Sadowitz Edinburgh show cancelled over ‘extreme racism, sexism and homophobia’

Jerry Sadowitz

Controversial comedian Jerry Sadowitz has spoken out against the Edinburgh Fringe venue that cancelled his show due to “offensive” content. 

The comedian had been booked to perform at one of the Fringe’s largest venues, The Pleasance, for two nights starting on 12 August, but on 13 August the show was officially cancelled. 

Although there was an official content warning for “strong language and themes some may find distressing” audience members felt the jokes went too far. 

One audience member told The Scottish Sun: “I was at the show. He called Rishi Sunak a ‘P***’; 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.”

Following the first show, The Pleasance released a statement saying: “Due to numerous complaints we became immediately aware of content that was considered, among other things, extreme in its racism, sexism, homophobia and misogyny. 

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

“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 at The Pleasance, and it was our view that this line was crossed on this occasion.”

Sadowitz responded with his own statement on Sunday (14 August).

He wrote: “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.

“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.”

He continued: “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.”

In response to an accusation of ‘getting his d**k out’, he explained: “There’s a lot of silly, exaggerated irony and nonsense, real fake and exaggerated anger and bile, and even getting my d**k out is for the purpose of the funny line which follows it.”

Many comics have since come out in defence of the show, claiming Sadowtiz is known for offensive material and telling people not to go if it is not their style. 

Comedian Tom Walker who plays the character Jonathan Pie, added: “Going to see Jerry Sadowitz and then complaining he was offensive, is like going to a nudist beach and complaining there were too many turkey skin crotch nuggets on display.”

Another comedian, Simon Evans, wrote: “If you can identify the Iine that got you cancelled then I for one am willing to nick it. And I think every other comic should too. This is our Spartacus moment.”

And comedian Katherine Ryan added: “Very strange to cancel someone’s entire run for apparent ‘offence’ when there’s a content warning right on the booking page. So why….”

This cancellation joins a long-held discourse over comedians and their use of offensive material – particularly toward marginalised communities. 

In recent months, Ricky Gervais, Dave Chappelle and Jimmy Carr have all been called out for offensive jokes against the trans community and the Roma and Traveller community. 

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