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Freedom of speech dies at the Fringe
The Children's Crusade comes for Jerry Sadowitz
Just as the coddled, middle-class babies who work as staff for the Old Vic robbed London of Terry Gilliam’s production of ‘Into The Woods’, now staff at the Pleasance theatre have silenced one of Scotland’s comedy legends, Jerry Sadowitz, because he refuses to bend the knee to men in wigs.
I once went into a magic shop in London, thinking of having a browse, and I saw Jerry Sadowitz sitting behind the counter. (Sadowitz is not just an annihilating comedian, he’s also I think the top close-up magician in The UK). I spun on my heel and left the shop. I didn’t think I was ready for a conversation with Jerry Sadowitz. That’s something that needs a run-up. But I’ve always admired him as did most of my old friends in comedy.
I look forward to seeing those old friends….Stuart Lee and other Edinburgh regulars who’ve been kissing his arse for years, stepping up to defend him now. Or not. I suspect they’ll actually continue doing what they’ve been doing for the last four years and pretend it’s not happening so the mob doesn’t trouble their doorstep. As for the rest of us, I think we should #boycottThePleasance until they apologise and return his spot.
And if the other performers at the Pleasance don’t back up their fellow artist, you should return your tickets to their shows and tell them why.
One of the things I’ve always liked about Sadowitz is how he himself looks like something that jumped from a deck of cards. A jester in the classic style, but one who wears the King’s nerves to a dangerous extent. A precious thing in other words, especially in this time of terrible conformity. A conformity that has led to a medical scandal and the worst crisis for gay youth since AIDS.
Sadowitz had Jimmy Savile’s number back in the day so I suspect his insights into the trans movement are similarly on point. This is from 1987.
Savile’s crimes were only revealed after his death in 2011.
In Beatrice Otto’s history of court jesters ‘Fools Are Everywhere’, she has this to say about the ubiquity of jesters throughout much of recorded history.
“I do not say that the jester exists in all times and places. The crux is rather that he is not the product of any particular time or place. The preconditions for the emergence of jesters are minimal. Some court-like institution in the form of a head honcho with a party-dependent entourage, no critical mass of courtiers or pomp is needed. Lear in the wilderness had his fool if little else. This does not, of course, mean that every court-like institution is bound to have a fool. Even if we had access to all records, it would be impossible to prove an unbroken line of jesters, given that records are written by different people with different priorities. That said, I cannot think of one instance of jesters being documented with incomprehension. People do not seem to write along the lines of “the Emperor revived an ancient custom and brought a thing called ‘a jester’ into his court”.
Here’s a tradition stretching across history, across cultures, which has now maybe met its match in these privileged, authoritarian, middle-class, ticket-punching bullies telling us what we can and cannot think.
I stand with Jerry Sadowitz. You should all ask your favourite comedians if they do too.
UPDATE: CREDIT WHERE IT’S DUE DEPARTMENT.
Good for Richard Herring.