Scottish comedian Jerry Sadowitz has hit back at his critics with a lengthy response after his Edinburgh Fringe show was canceled by famed venue Pleasance amid accusations of racism, homophobia and misogyny.
The American-born stand-up, known for his controversial and often shocking antics on stage, allegedly made a racist comment about Prime Minister hopeful Rishi Sunak and was also criticized for exposing his genitals during the Friday night routine at the Pleasance. at the Edinburgh International Conference Center — the venue for the Edinburgh Television Festival next week.
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The Pleasance canceled the following night’s performance after receiving “numerous complaints” and released a statement saying its content “did not align” with its values. He has since released a longer follow-up statement outlining his reasoning.
Sadowitz responded in a post on Twitter saying the venue had taken a ‘victim’ by the Pleasance doubling down on its position, that its 75-minute show had gone ‘pretty well’ and that it had ‘left without any trace of anything. something that was wrong. ”
“In addition to now being made aware that there have been multiple walkouts and ‘staff abuse’, my act is now belittled and simplified as dangerous, homophobic, misogynistic and racist.
“I’m not [vilified British comic Jim Davidson] folk… there is a lot of reflection in my shows and even if I don’t always manage it, especially at the speed at 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 shouted in the first five minutes before storming out without LISTENING to material that I am dumb enough to believe funny, sometimes important and worth telling .
He also admitted to exposing his genitals, saying his actions contained “a lot of irony and silly, over-the-top nonsense, real fake and over-the-top anger and bile, and even getting my dick out is for the purpose of the funny line. who follows him.”
His comments came after The Pleasance released a statement saying: “Due to numerous complaints, we immediately became aware of content considered, among other things, to be extreme in its racism, sexism, homophobia and misogyny. We will not associate ourselves with content that violates the dignity of people and the language used on stage was, in our opinion, totally unacceptable.
In its follow-up statement, the Pleasance said: “Our values must be inclusive, diverse and welcoming. We are proud of the progress we have made in our programming, which includes significant investment and support for Black, Asian and Global Majority artists, LGBTQ+ voices, working class voices and strong female representation. We do not believe that racism, homophobia, sexism or misogynistic language has a place in our rooms.
“In a changing world, stories and language that were once accepted on stage, whether performed or not, must be challenged. There is a line we will not cross at the Pleasance, and we felt that line was crossed on this occasion.
The incident has become the latest battleground over the limits of free speech in the UK, with figures such as satirist Andrew Doyle and Harry Potter novelist JK Rowling criticizing the cancellation as censorship and many others opposing Sadowitz’ routine and supporting Pleasance’s position. Podcaster and stand-up Richard Herring called Pleasance’s decision a “very disturbing development” and wrote on his blog: “Complaining that he is offensive is like asking the actor who plays Macbeth to to be arrested for murder.”
Sadowitz has been on the stand-up circuit for three decades, known for mixing wild performances with magic trick routines. He has performed at The Pleasance several times over the years. The comedian has appeared on UK shows such as Stewart Lee’s comic vehicle and Rab C Nesbittbut remained largely outside the mainstream media.
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