Review: Jerry Sadowitz at the Queen Elizabeth Hall

A coherent worldview of abuse

Jerry Sadowitz

Where: Queen Elizabeth Hall, London
When: 7.30pm. Sunday December 14th 2008
How long: Two hours
How much: £20/£25

Jerry Sadowitz (aka Jerry Sadowicz) is a paradox. His name’s easy to forget, yet once you’ve seen him perform, you never forget it. He’s a gifted comedian you almost never seen on TV. He’s also a talented close-up magician, yet is best known for his talent for offensive jokes.

Doing barely one or two gigs a year, Sadowitz isn’t famous. He’s had a few TV shows, including The Pall Bearer’s Revue, which got him the most number of complaints in television history at the time. But if you know him, you want to see him.

Provided you’re over 18, don’t have a sensitive disposition and don’t mind just the odd word swearword or two.

It’s very difficult to describe Sadowitz’s style. It’s something you have to experience really. While performing card tricks of great skill and deftness, he reveals – or fakes – a dark part of his psyche: an insecure, self-hating Glaswegian psychopath with no taste boundaries or morality, who makes jokes about paedophilia, bestiality, rape, murder of children he’s raped and just about any other ‘sensitive’ topic, all accompanied by a constant stream of c*nts and f*cks.

Sample joke: “How do you crucify a spastic? Nail him to a swastika”

Sample story: “Oh, f*ck. I forgot to rape my neighbour today. Still, with all the floods, her body’s probably floating by. ‘Help me, help me!’ [Mimes swimming after her] ‘Not your lucky day, is it?'”

And so on. He even dedicates his last trick of the evening to Robert Mugabe*, while occasionally sitting down to watch hardcore lesbian porn on his giant overhead projection screen.

But unlike a lot of comedians who tell jokes purely to shock, there’s something approaching a coherent philosophy behind it all. It feels like a well developed world view of hate that also draws on human failings, desires and insecurities. ‘Jerry Sadowitz’ hates the world because he’s a self-admitted ‘ugly fucker’ who has to pay for prostitutes. His non-stop stream of invective doesn’t feel like jokes thrown out a random – there’s a narrative stream guiding you from one end of the act to another.

But it’s not all hate. While he’s willing to make jokes at other comics’ expenses (“What do you get if you cross Jimmy Carr with a stand-up comedian?”) he’s also very willing to praise the likes of Stewart Lee and George Carlin and to stand up for what he (seems) to believe in, as well as explaining to the bewildered that comedians might not always be serious about what they say.

Sadowitz is a bit of an acquired taste and usually you can find even the most devoted fan silent for select portions of the act. Of all the times, I’ve seen him though, this had probably the least quiet time, with surprisingly the magic tricks in the middle providing the areas of least entertainment despite their brilliance.

Definitely the funniest thing I’ve seen all year, though. I’ll have to watch out for his gig next year, I suspect.

Rating: 5/5

Audience: Happy to be there. No walk outs that I noticed. Tended to need to pee a lot. Quite a few seemed surprised that he was going to be so offensive. Which is surprising. Why were they there?

Programme: No programme

The Theatre
Not bad. Good acoustics. Weird bar that had two people handling three queues (queues? At a bar?), with one guy pouring and the other guy taking the cash. Very little leg room at the seats, so no one could pass you when they needed to leave.

* On the general grounds of Mugabe’s unwillingness to submit to external demands from the “English ruling classes” and a desire to take his whole country down now rather than spend centuries in fealty. As I said, it does feel like a coherent world view at times.