Pleasance Theatre says Jerry Sadowitz gig was cancelled after ‘unprecedented number of complaints’

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Jerry Sadowitz photographed in 2003 (Julian Makey/Shutterstock)
Jerry Sadowitz photographed in 2003 (Julian Makey/Shutterstock)

Edinburgh’s Pleasance Theatre has put out a new statement addressing the decision to cancel a stand-up performance from comedian Jerry Sadowitz.

Sadowitz had been scheduled to play two nights at the Pleasance at Edinburgh International Conference Centre. However, on Saturday (13 August) the second performance was cancelled at short notice.

The venue previously issued a statement claiming that the comedian’s material was “unacceptable” and “did not align with [the theatre’s] values”.

Now, in a second statement provided to The Independent, the organisation went into greater detail about the reasons for cancelling the show.

The venue said it had received an “unprecedented number of complaints” that “could not be ignored”, and that their teams had subsequently received abuse.

“Due to numerous complaints, we became immediately aware of content that was considered, among other things, extreme in its racism, sexism, homophobia and misogyny,” they said. “We will not associate with content which attacks people’s dignity and the language used on stage was, in our view, completely unacceptable.”

“A large number of people walked out of Jerry Sadowitz’s show as they felt uncomfortable and unsafe to remain in the venue. We have received an unprecedented number of complaints that could not be ignored and we had a duty to respond. The subsequent abuse directed to our teams is also equally unacceptable.”

The organisation said that its values are to be “inclusive, diverse and welcoming”, adding that it was “proud of the progress we have made across our programming”.

“We do not believe that racism, homophobia, sexism or misogynistic language have a place in our venues,” it continued.

“In a changing world, stories and language that were once accepted on stage, whether performed in character or not, need to be challenged. There is a line that we will not cross at the Pleasance, and it was our view that this line was crossed on this occasion.”

“We don’t vet the full content of acts in advance and while Jerry Sadowitz is a controversial comedian, we could not have known the specifics of his performance. The Pleasance has staged his work numerous times over the years, but as soon as we received complaints from those in the building which caused us great concern, we knew we could not allow the final performance to go ahead.”

The statement concluded by saying: “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.”

Sadowitz addressed the cancellation on Twitter on Saturday afternoon. “Did a show last night, 75 mins, thought it went well. Didn’t see any walkouts,” he claimed.

The Independent has contacted Sadowitz for further comment.