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Comedian Jerry Sadowitz hits back at Edinburgh Fringe venue over racism claims

Jerry Sadowitz has hit back at the Edinburgh Fringe venue which cancelled his show (Jane Barlow/PA)
Jerry Sadowitz has hit back at the Edinburgh Fringe venue which cancelled his show (Jane Barlow/PA)

Comedian Jerry Sadowitz has hit back at the Edinburgh Fringe venue which cancelled his show, claiming it “cheapened and simplified” his work.

The Pleasance axed the second of his two nights on Saturday after saying it had recieved an “unprecedented” number of complaints and “abuse” was directed at some of its staff.

American-born Scottish stand-up Sadowitz is a veteran of the Fringe and known for his provocative performances, which often include magic.

His latest show, titled Not for Anyone, was billed as featuring “whacky impressions of Greta Thunberg, Frankie Boyle and deep vein thrombosis” and saw the comedian expose himself to the audience.

The venue said his show was “extreme in its racism, sexism, homophobia and misogyny” and the language used on its stage was “completely unacceptable”.

Writing on his Twitter page, 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.

“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.”

33rd Annual London Film Critics’ Circle Awards – London
Comedian Richard Herring cites Jerry Sadowitz as an influence (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Sadowitz said he was “offended” by those who “stormed out” without properly listening to his material.

He added: “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 (director of the Pleasance Theatre Trust) Anthony Alderson.

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

He added in a postscript: “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.”

Sadowitz previously said on Facebook that he had not seen any walk-outs and that he was “truly sorry” for those who had travelled to see his Saturday show.

The Pleasance’s decision to cancel Sadowitz’s second show prompted concern from fellow comics including Richard Herring, Katherine Ryan and Al Murray.

Herring, who has cited Sadowitz as an influence, wrote on his blog that to complain about him being offensive “is like asking the actor who plays Macbeth to be arrested for murder”.

Ryan said it was “very strange” to cancel a performance for “apparent offence” when there was a content warning on the booking page.

The venue’s original listing carried the warning: “This show contains strong language and themes some may find distressing.”

The Pleasance has been contacted for further comment.