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Angry Jerry Sadowitz pulled from Edinburgh Fringe lineup for ‘extreme’ racism, sexism

A building with lots of windows and people in business attire going up an escalator
The Edinburgh International Conference Centre, where performance venue the Pleasance is located.
(Scott Heppell / Associated Press)

Comedian Jerry Sadowitz does not approve of a Scottish venue’s decision to remove him from the Edinburgh Fringe festival lineup amid allegations of “extreme” racism, sexism, homophobia and misogyny.

On Sunday, the American Scottish comic shared a lengthy statement condemning the Pleasance for pulling the plug on his second and final set at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe festival. According to Deadline, Sadowitz reportedly made a racist remark about prime ministerial candidate Rishi Sunak and exposed his genitals during his first Fringe performance at the Pleasance on Friday night.

“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,” Sadowitz wrote.

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“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.”

The Edinburgh Fringe launches into three weeks of artistic mayhem on Sunday, staging a record number of shows and sparking fears the world’s largest arts festival may have become too unwieldy.

Shortly after Sadowitz performed Friday, the Pleasance publicly deemed the veteran entertainer’s behavior “completely unacceptable.”

“Due to numerous complaints, we became immediately aware of content that was considered, among other things, extreme in its racism, sexism, homophobia and misogyny,” the Pleasance said in statement obtained Monday by The Times.

“We will not associate with content which attacks people’s dignity.”

Though Sadowitz has played the Pleasance on numerous occasions and the venue has acknowledged his reputation as “controversial,” it argued that this time “a line was crossed.” The Pleasance also cited “subsequent abuse directed at our teams” while explaining its move to cut Sadowitz’s remaining show.

We need laughter now more than ever. Here’s an inside look at our thriving local stand-up scene.

“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,” Sadowitz continued in his Sunday rant.

“Additionally, there’s a lot of silly, exaggerated irony and nonsense ... anger and bile, and even getting my d— 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).”

According to the Guardian, Sadowitz has long been known for his intentionally offensive comedy style and incorporating magic tricks into his off-the-wall routines. Further defending its choice to sever ties with Sadowitz, the Pleasance stressed that its values “are to be inclusive, diverse and welcoming.”

‘We hear you and we are sorry,’ read a statement from First Avenue, a venue in Minneapolis that came under fire for booking comedian Dave Chappelle.

“In a changing world, stories and language that were once accepted onstage, whether performed in character or not, need to be challenged,” the venue’s statement read.

“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.”

On Sunday, Sadowitz implied that he deserved an apology from the Pleasance and demanded that the venue “at least” apologize to “the 300 people who paid for and travelled to see the show on Saturday.”

“I ask nobody to agree with anything I say or do on stage,” the 60-year-old performer said.

“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 want to upset anyone... including [Pleasance artistic director] Anthony Alderson. The show is what it is, for those who enjoy it. The rest of you... please stick to Carry On films.”


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