A small moment of appreciation for Jerry Sadowitz

Jerry Sadowitz is as far as I’m concerned one of the best comedians these islands have produced in my lifetime. The problem is with this post of appreciation is that there’s virtually nothing online to show the range of Sadowitz’s talent as a comedian, but this is this video on his YouTube channel of his card tricks.

I first became aware of Sadowitz as a young lad in Glasgow where the buzz was for a pair of local comedians. One was Sadowitz, the other went by the name of Bing Hitler which was the stagename for Craig Ferguson, now a chatshow host in America. What helped create the buzz were allegations that Ferguson was ”borrowing” large chunks of Sadowitz’s act and making it palatable for a more mainstream crowd.

Because the thing was the first time I saw Sadowitz as a young man I felt assaulted because he was utterly and totally relentless. He did not stop hammering at the audience and challenging us in our beliefs, so you’d have a serious atmosphere of aggression but Sadowitz made me realise that comedy has to have no limits and it can challenge you. Ferguson’s live act was fine but it felt like he wanted you to like him so he desperately craved  the  approval of us in the audience. Truth is I saw both acts and never noticed too many lifts but Ferguson’s act did feel like a calmer version of Sadowitz’s and although I enjoyed it, I didn’t get the same visceral impact from it because Sadowitz didn’t want to make you love let alone like him. He wanted to make you feel something and you certainly did.

After moving from Glasgow to Leicester I never managed to see Sadowitz again til the early 90’s when by this time Sadowitz was enjoying some fame outwith Scotland, and even had a BBC 2 programme (The Pall Bearer’s Review), to play with. I saw Sadowitz during Leicester Polytechnic’s anti-racism week which was a deliberately provocative booking that ended up getting the sort of response the Poly wanted as protests sprung up against Sadowitz calling him a ‘racist’. Yet Sadowitz was not a racist. He used racist language yes, but people missed the point he was making as he had contempt for all, not to mention how he used language often challenged the audience.

At the start of the gig a lone protester started heckling him which prompted a five or ten minute discussion about racism that ended up with Sadowitz abusing the heckler in a way that I’d not seen in any comedy gig I’d ever seen. In fact I know a lot of people were uncomfortable with it, and indeed, many left, but the key to Sadowitz is understanding his misanthropy. As this article points out, Sadowitz often starts a gig by attacking his Scottish and Jewish heritage before then going on to attack every group you can imagine before setting his sights on you and there’s the thing. Can you laugh at yourself? Last time I saw him in a venue in Bath a couple of years ago there were some people there laughing a bit too hard at some of Sadowitz’s abusive jokes, but were then made to feel uncomfortable when he started attacking British soldiers calling them ”baby-killers’. I’ve heard of similar stories elsewhere when a new audience that discovered Sadowitz thanks to the Jimmy Savile story, something he was talking about back in the 1980’s when I first saw him in Glasgow.

It now seems that Sadowitz has settled down to doing the odd tour, doing his magic and very occasionally popping up on TV when you least expect it. However as said, there’s virtually nothing of Sadowitz online. No stand up, no BBC material, no Channel 5 material, not even the Just For Laughs appearance where he called the Canadian audience ”moose fuckers’.

So all I have to say is trust me. The man is a genius. He’ll challenge you and you may end up horribly offended but there’s the point. This isn’t Peter Kay talking about garlic bread, but something that makes you look at what is offensive to you, and how you’re able to draw a line in the sand for what you find offensive to you. If like Sadowitz you’re just wanting to rage at the world while making a point then he’s for you. There’s not an ounce of ironic racism or sexism here that makes you complicit in the comedian’s own bigotry. This challenges the bigotry in you.

He starts a series of gigs in London next week. If you’ve never seen him then do so now because we’ve never needed people like Sadowitz more than we do now.

She Was Asking For It-Sexism in Comedy

Last time I spoke about Tommy Cooper and how he was just funny, while having a wee moan about the sort of processed student comedy that passes for funny in the 21st century. One of the other things that’s astonishing about this rise of tedious comedy is the sheer amazing amount of things that are suddenly considered funny again like racism and rape jokes.

This isn’t to say that within a certain context these types of subjects don’t work in comedy. They do, as anyone familiar with Lenny Bruce or Jerry Sadowitz can testify. If you’ve ever heard a Derek and Clive album you know how extreme comedy can be, and that’s the thing with all these examples; they broke taboos for reasons or just to offend people and I’ll defend to my last breath the right of people to offend others.

However the fact that rape (among other subjects, but for this blog it’s this subject) has become an easy way for ‘edgy’ comics to show how ‘adult’ their material is. It’s the same as comic books show how ‘edgy’ and ‘mature’ they’ve made superheroes by having them rip each other apart…


It’s as if someone was inspired by The Godfather and ditched all the characterisation, plot development and dialogue to just concentrate on the violence and gore because that’s ‘mature’.

It’s the juvenile nature of the rape jokes that’s so bloody annoying, but it’s also tied into the fact for many people it’s a direct way to attack female comedians as you can see by reading this piece by Lindy West which peels off the blackened scab to allow the pus of sheer fucking misogyny that runs through a lot of comedy fans.

Why do people think that Tweeting this:


Is acceptable?

It’s just horrendous and shows the people saying this probably really do genuinely hate women in comedy, and probably  piss themselves laughing when Jimmy Carr cracks a few gags about rape, when really it’s sad because all Carr is doing is pandering to a section of mouth breathers who see rape jokes as ‘edgy’ because you’re not a comic now unless you’re ‘edgy’. Being funny for funny’s sake, or making a valid point, or forcing the audience to confront uncomfortable truths about themselves tend not to create bestselling DVD’s at Christmas, or get you that guest slot on panel shows.

However it’s the attacks upon women that’s shocking as just when you think we’re past all this you realise we’re onto a new generation, and they’re hiding behind their keyboards because attacking women online is just a laugh isn’t it?!

It’s the normalisation of rape that’s the worst aspect of this though. It’s the fact these scum don’t realise that rape is a crime of violence, and these attacks on female comics are acts of violence but social media gives teenagers and men the chance to do this without fear of reprisal.

There’s a scene in Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell’s wonderful From Hell where men across the UK suddenly start writing fake Jack the Ripper letters to the early versions of Tabloid newspapers in order to get whatever is in them out in the open, The Ripper gave them that chance and Moore touches upon this wonderfully. The same principle is here with these Tweets and attacks upon female comedians because it says how much rape especially has become ‘normal’ by a generation who see women as objectified and not people as can be seen in not just this article I linked to, but generally across comedy forums and if you go to comedy clubs, especially the large ones like Jongleurs where the lowest common denominator often isn’t low enough.

Like I said, I will defend anyone’s right to offend other people. I will not however defend someone being a twat, or in this case, using rape as a threat to scare and intimidate women because some want to be comedians as some people still want comedy to be a male only territory.

It’s frankly pathetic and a sign of how we as a society need to start making things very clear to younger generations where the moral line is drawn.  You’re not a real man if you’re throwing around rape as a threat, you’re just a piece of shit.

That said, I do like how Isabel Fey dealt with those people who did the same to her.

Just Like That…

In a complete change to what I was going to write about, I’m going to tell you why Tommy Cooper is the single funniest man I’ve seen in my life.


Cooper always made me laugh because he looked bloody weird. Even as a kid I thought ‘this is a giant is a fez doing stupid things and being stupidly funny and letting the audience laugh at him?’ It was remarkable when I was growing up in the 1970’s to see Cooper stand out for not being racist, or cracking dubious jokes about women but just being funny for the sake of being funny. It’s an art which is getting lost in the wave after wave of acts who treat the audience with contempt, or treat the art of comedy as just a stepping stone for a presenting job on BBC Three or a Channel Four panel show.

Part of the problem is that comedy is such a huge industry now, and many getting into comedy think they can just learn to be funny and make people laugh but you can’t. Well, you can if you’ve got the skill and you can’t learn comedy by doing courses at university to teach you stand up. You have to learn to read people in an everyday situation and many of the best comics worked up through the ranks after working in crap jobs, or in Cooper’s case, being part of World War 2.

There’s a lack of realism in say, a Jack Whitehall compared to a Tommy Cooper. Now it’s unfair of me to single out Whitehall as he’s far from the worst example of this age of student comedy, but he’s the apex of bland, safe middle class student humour that makes all mainstream comedy all seem the same.

In Cooper’s day there was a variety. You had a difference and you could empathise with Cooper bathetic routines. I look at the likes of Whitehall and just think ‘you’ve not got any real skill have you?’ as he tries hard to deconstruct his routines as if he was trying to make an essay on modern economics funny.

Cooper deconstructs comedy without even trying because he’s just trying to make you laugh and of course to love him. What performer doesn’t want to be loved, unless of course you’re Jerry Sadowitz.

Really though this isn’t a ‘olden times is better than now’ rant. It’s more pointing out that Cooper was a bloody genius and the bland university stand ups who dominate the scene are just, well, crap.