Jerry Sadowitz show canceled over ‘extreme racism, homophobia and misogyny’ | Jerry Sadowitz

Jerry Sadowitz had his show canceled at the Edinburgh fringe because its content was “extreme in its racism, sexism, homophobia and misogyny,” promoters have said.

The comedian, whose material has for decades been provocatively and unashamedly offensive, had what was meant to be the second of two shows pulled because of an unprecedented number of complaints, the Pleasance theater in Edinburgh said.

The cancellation led to concerns being expressed by fellow comedians at the fringe, including Richard Herring who called it “A very worrying development”. Many people wanted more details about the reasons for canceling a show titled Jerry Sadowitz: Not for Anyone.

On Sunday the Pleasance said: “Due to numerous complaints, 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.

“A large number of people walked out of Jerry Sadowitz’s show as they felt uncomfortable and unsafe to remain in the venue. We have received an unprecedented number of complaints that could not be ignored and we had a duty to respond. The subsequent abuse directed to our teams is also equally unacceptable.”

The Pleasance said racism, homophobia, sexism and misogynistic language had no place in its venues.

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,” it said.

“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. The Pleasance has staged his work numerous times over the years, but as soon as we received complaints from those in the building which caused us great concern, we knew we could not allow the final performance to go ahead.

“The arts and comedy in particular have always pushed the boundaries of social norms but this boundary is always moving. Our industry has to move with it. However, this does not mean that we can allow such content to be on our stages.”

Sadowitz announced his cancellation 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 traveled to see the show tonight.”

The Guardian has been told that about 30-40 people walked out of the Friday night show.

Sadowitz was supported by fellow comedians including Simon Evanswho replied to him: “If you can identify the line 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.”

Fred MacAulay called it “an utterly dreadful development”. Al Murray wrote: “Goddammit Jerry I’m sorry.”

Herring said Sadowitz was “a challenging comedian but that’s the whole point of his act.” He added: “The fringe should not be canceling shows in any case. Very worrying development. Would love to hear the reasoning behind this decision. Or why seemingly no one has explained it to Jerry.”

Sadowitz has long been known for routines that most people would find grossly offensive. He has billed himself as “magician, comedian, psychopath.” The Guardian’s Brian Logan has described him as “the great, twisted granddaddy of abusive comedy.”

In Canada, after he opened his show with the greeting “Hello moose-fuckers,” someone got on stage and knocked him unconscious. Before the punch, he told the audience: “I’ll tell you why I hate Canada – half of you speak French and the other half let them!”

In a 2011 interview with the Guardian, Sadowitz, who was born in the US and brought up in Glasgow, gave an insight into his misanthropy.

He said: “My stuff comes from the fact that my life has been miserable. I now don’t believe I have the capacity to be happy. I would settle for peace of mind. I’d give anything for that. But it’s been a completely wasted life. Completely and utterly wasted.”

Sadowitz has been approached for further comment.

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