Jerry Sadowitz upset someone? What a shocker...

Bill Bruce backs the repeat offeder

There was a moment, reading Bethan Richards recent Correspondents article about Jerry Sadowitz that made me stop, pause for a second, and check I hadn’t stumbled across a Daily Mail piece, written by one of the usual self-appointed moral guardians from atop their high horse. But no, it was written by a 27-year old, and no one under 50 reads, nor indeed writes for, the Mail.

But I come here to praise Sadowitz, not to completely ‘have a go’ at someone who has so spectacularly missed the point, as to cause her blushes later in life.

The opening of the piece explains that despite the warnings on the posters, and his history of offensiveness stretching back to the dawn of time, and other people saying ‘watch out it’s awfully offensive’ Bethan felt herself made of sterner stuff and off she popped along to the Old Queens Head (he must have referenced that surely?) in Islington. Islington, of all places!

And blimey, indeed he was as the young folk of today say, ‘hardcore’. Many of the audience who showed up that night thinking Frankie Boyle is a bit near the knuckle, but all the better for it, were probably unprepared for the unrelenting shitstorm that is a Sadowitz in full flight. I wasn’t there but let me hazard a guess? Casual racism, particularly about Asians? Check. Scatalogical material of vomit-inducing graphicness. Check. Rape and child molestation material so intense it was like watching an episode of Rebus directed by Eli Roth? Yep.

It isn’t that Sadowitz wants to ‘push at the boundaries’. He just doesn’t respect ‘your’ boundaries.

As the mighty George Carlin once put it, ‘my job is to find the line and then cross it’. The real victim that night, dare I say it, was Bethan’s ego. As she herself points out, ‘I’m not a girly girly who likes My Family’. Fair enough, but just where is that line then? Jerry found it and he crossed it. You ended up offended, but wiser. How can that be a bad thing?

Sadowitz does racist material because he’s not supposed to. As one reviewer of Sadowitz once put it more cleverly than I, ‘Someone who hates everyone, ultimately hates no-one’. Sadowitz takes self-loathing just short of self-harming, but to reiterate my point - he isn’t trying to be ironic or trying to offend ‘all races and religions’ he’s just ‘being offensive about them’ because he’s trying to offend you. His audience. Whoever that may be.

Bethan’s article also argues that a joke can be ‘borderline’ acceptable, an example I would give of this being, you might laugh at Jimmy Carr insulting gypsies, but you know it’s wrong. Incidentally I love gypsies, and I have no particular antipathy towards Jimmy Carr. I just thought that joke made him look like an ignorant twat, which is unfortunate because I‘m sure he isn‘t.

But why does a joke need to be offensive so long as it is intellectually stimulating, anyway? Why can’t you just say things to annoy people. Especially if you do in a way that suggests you’re doing it to be funny. What’s the alternative? I’m not sure where Bethan was going with this? Down with this sort of thing?

Bethan might also be surprised at the number of comedians who haven’t much time for Michael McIntyre - if what I hear from many of them is to be believed - but then most of them won’t go onstage and repeat it. As a punter it may not be fun to see a comedian attack another comedian’s work, but as a comic I have to say it can be ‘hilarious’. And if you don’t believe me, go online and find Stewart Lee talking about Joe Pasquale.

I guess it’s also more acceptable for a punter to go online and write an essay about a comedian they don’t like. You can do it to their faces, of course, but that’s called ‘heckling’ and if you do that with a renowned madman like Sadowitz it’s well-known he’ll murder you in cold blood, in front of witnesses. Although, as you point out, the audience member punched him, not the other way round. That still makes it Canadians 1 Sadowitz Nil.

Bethan also keeps harkening back to his earlier work, which she isn’t aware of, as influential and probably better than the rubbish he’s doing now. As someone who has seen him then and now, he’s not exactly mellowed, or suddenly become some late-in-life ‘angry comic’. Are you sure you aren’t mixing him up with Billy Connolly. That’s much-loved, British comedy institution Billy ‘why don’t they just kill Ken Bigley’ Connolly, I mean.

‘Lazy and bitter’ was the theme of the show? If he ever reads the article he’ll probably change it to the title of the show.

At the end of the day, foot patrol in Helmand Province is ‘terrifying‘. Jerry Sadowitz in Islington is a bit uncomfortable for 90mins, but that’s it. Let’s keep things in perspective.

And if you still think he shouldn’t be allowed to stalk the streets of London. I once saw Sadowitz’s eBay page, a place where he mostly bought and sold magic tricks. Some of his feedback caught my eye as it included a couple of lines from a funny magician your mother would like: Paul Daniels remarking that Jerry was ‘a very nice guy and always a pleasure to deal with’.

Now that’s funny.

  • Bill Bruce was described by The List magazine as a ‘polite and inoffensive’ comedian.

Published: 19 Jan 2010

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