Edinburgh Festival Fringe: Jerry Sadowitz returns to warn that stand-up comedy is ‘last bastion of free speech'
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Controversial Fringe favourite Jerry Sadowitz has warned stand-up comedy is the “last bastion of free speech”, in an uncompromising return to the festival.
The Glasgow-based stand-up and magician hit back at his cancellation at last year’s event during his comeback at the Queen’s Hall, with an attack on the Pleasance, which pulled the plug on his show last year.
Last year the Pleasance cancelled the second of Sadowitz’s two shows at the EICC, citing an “unprecedented" number of complaints over racism, sexism, homophobia and misogyny.
The American-born performer suggested he had benefited from being cancelled last year, as he had completely sold out his run at the venue, and told his audience that he had an “excess of anger”.
Sadowitz lavished praise on Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin in his Fringe show, which saw him rail against a host of politicians, with Nicola Sturgeon, Humza Yousaf, Sir Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak among those targeted for abuse, along with JK Rowling, Ant and Dec, Phillip Schofield and Tina Turner.
He said: “Maybe if I did more shows and you all came along to them I’d gradually water it down and become more acceptable, but I can’t. I’ve saved this s*** up for about two years.
"They don’t want to ban me because of the jokes I say. It's because they want to stamp out stand-up comedy, as it’s the last bastion of free speech.
“I hate every single politician because they are a bunch of lying, self-serving careerists, every single one of them.”
Sadowitz, who has been appearing at the Fringe since the 1980s, said: "I always enjoy doing my work for Cambridge **** masquerading as Scotsmen.
“There are too many comedians in this festival – or **** pretending to be comedians.”
Tackling cancel culture, Sadowitz told his Queen’s Hall audience: "Graham Linehan has been cancelled, of course. He should be cancelled for Father Ted, which was the most unfunny thing to emerge since the Carry-On movies."
Sadowitz, who opened his show with a joke about being "locked up for hate speech”, also performed material about shamed TV stars Jimmy Savile and Rolf Harris, and child killer nurse Lucy Letby.
In the opening few minutes of the show, Sadowitz said: “For those of you who have not seen me before, why not? For those of you who have seen me before, that money has all been spent.
"For those of the uninitiated and curious, which is most of you, normally I come to Edinburgh and get about 20 people coming to see me.
"Now it’s full up because you have read all this s*** about me. You’ve paid your money, so you can be seen to walk out.
"If you’re thinking of walking out, wait till the end, as that’s when the really heavy s*** happens, this is me just warming up.
“Welcome to the Titan submersible of stand-up comedy. There’s enough oxygen in this room to last a couple of hours. You’ll see me implode – don’t worry about that.”
Fred MacAulay, Brian "Limmy" Limond, Katherine Ryan, Richard Herring and Michael Redmond were among the comics to offer support to Sadowitz last year.