JK Rowling has joined authors and comedians slamming a decision to cancel a comedian’s Edinburgh Fringe show as ‘beyond shameful’ after it said he made ‘indefensible jokes’ – despite the venue claiming to ‘champion free speech’.
Jerry Sadowitz, 60, was scheduled to play at The Pleasance at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre on Friday and Saturday.
But the American-born Scot took to social media to reveal that his second night would not be going ahead, before the venue confirmed that it had been pulled because his material ‘does not align with our values.’
It came despite warnings prior to his show that it contained ‘strong language’ and ‘themes some may find distressing’.
One female audience member claimed he got his penis out in front of a woman on the front row and used a racial slur to describe Rishi Sunak, the Scottish Sun reported. It was not clear if the allegedly exposed genitals were a prop.
Harry Potter creator JK Rowling was among authors and comedians criticising the decision – made just a day after Salman Rushdie was stabbed on stage.
She ‘liked’ a tweet from lawyer Adam Tomkins saying: ‘The day after the attack on Rushdie, *this* is the action of leading venue at the Edin Fringe?!?
‘To cancel an event because some people may find offensive?!? It’s beyond shameful.’
Broadcaster Jeremy Vine added: ‘I’ve seen Jerry Sadowitz perform four times. Each gig was more offensive than the last.
‘No one complained because that’s what Jerry does. Have a listen.’
Piers Morgan said: ‘Imagine getting a comedian cancelled on the day Salman Rushdie was stabbed? Pathetic. Free speech is being destroyed.’
Comedian Bennett Arron added: ‘I once supported Jerry Sadowitz in a theatre. All I was told was not to speak to him and that I should warn the audience before he came on, that some of them might find his material offensive.
‘When I said it, it received a round of applause. Audiences knew what they were getting.’
A woman who was in the crowd for the comedy gig told the Scottish Sun: ‘I was at the show. He called Rishi Sunak a ‘p***’; said the economy was awful because it is run by ‘blacks and women’.
‘He got his penis out to a woman in the front row. The problem was not the audience – I knew he was an acquired taste. It was his indefensible content’.
The Pleasance has so far refused to confirm what part of the act was deemed offensive, but it said in a statement that ‘opinions such as those displayed by Sadowitz are not acceptable.’