Jerry Sadowitz…Comedian, magician and psychopath.
It may have come to your attention that all the comedians afore mentioned in this article have sadly now passed on to the great comedy gig in the sky. Is this a reflection on our current wave of safer more TV friendly jokesters? I’ll let you decide. Thankfully the final master of the macabre monologue in this article is still very much with us and continuing to thrill comedy connoisseurs throughout the lands of the scandalous and scatological.
Jerry Sadowitz is a man who is to be saluted by any aspiring bedroom comedy agitators. His comedy, like some of the finest malt whiskies, can be an acquired taste. This Scots Jewish comedian makes Frankie Boyle look like Mary Poppins. Some more sensitive souls may require a sack load of sugar to help Sadowitz’s medicine go down. However, Jerry Sadowitz is probably the greatest practitioner of exposing society’s hypocrisies working today. If you’re willing to leave moral boundaries aside and view the broader picture of what he does then the rewards of his shtick can at times be life affirming.
Jerry was born in New Jersey in 1961. Following the breakdown of his parents’ marriage, his mother returned to her native Scotland. He was brought up in Glasgow and attended Calderwood Lodge Primary then. The fact that he was the only Jew in a catholic area has often been touched on in his routines.
Jerry first came to prominence in the 1980’s alternative comedy boom. However unlike many of his comedy peers of the time he didn’t toe the line of the right on neo lefty politics that were so popular at the time. One of his earlier comedy techniques would be to take a standard, admittedly nasty racist joke and twist it to reveal a “more considered” punch line. His act also features magic. Done both as send up and seriously. He is a master craftsman of the art and considered to be among the best close up card magicians in the world.
Near the start of his comedy career he became famous for once antagonizing a typical audience of socially conscientious trendies by marching on stage and declaring, “Nelson Mandela! What a c**t.” This declaration on the legend of South Africa’s greatest leader came about after fellow comic Nick Revel bet him that he wouldn’t dare say anything derogatory about the great man. But Jerry was more concerned that the statement didn’t have a punch-line. So the next night he walked out and added, “Nelson Mandela! What a cunt. You lend somebody a fiver then you never see them for years.” (At the time Mandela was still in captivity)
In 1992 Jerry came as close to mainstream fame/notoriety with his own BBC show The Pall Bearers Review. Surprisingly a very different BBC as to what we find today pretty much let him off the leash as far as content went. And the show was a pretty strong reflection of what he did on stage. The first episode opened with the gag, “Ladies and gentlemen welcome to the Pall Bearers Review. I would like to point out this is a non-racist and non-sexist show…Which is a shame because I know a fucking beauty about Tina Turner.”
Sadly such bon mots were not to the taste of all and the show became one of the most complained about in broadcast history, resulting in it never being repeated.
It should be stressed though that to say Sadowitz’s comedy is out and out nihilism would be incorrect. Yes at times he can be right of Hitler, but his routines can also move left of Karl Marx. He covers a wide spectrum of targets in his comedy and the establishment is always very near the top of his hit list. An aspect of Sadowitz rarely covered reviews of the great man is that most of his shows feature large waves of (at times) unexpected compassion. This particular columnist was lucky enough to catch a bit of that in one of his shows in Dundee on the week 9/11 happened. During a routine where he backhandedly “praised” the people of Dundee for being so moronic they built a statue of Desperate Dan in their town center, which in Jerry’s opinion was still better than the more accepted tradition of building statues to war. He then went on to talk about 9/11 and implored the audience not to advocate carpet bombing and the massacre of civilians as a solution to the situation, as it would achieve nothing and only aggravate the problem …He did however then go on to suggest we should drop human shit on them, “and give them time to think about it.” Maybe we wouldn’t be in our current troubles if we did.
Jerry’s controversial style of humor has also influenced a generation of comedians, or “imitators” as he refers to them. Comedians who now use his style of humor include, Frankie Boyle, Jim Jeffries, Jimmy Carr, Roy Chubby brown and Ricky Gervais. Speaking on his “imitators”, he said that “I’m sorry I’ve given some very nasty people a good living.”
Sadowitz’s on-stage misanthropy certainly doesn’t seem faked. In a recent interview with the Guardian he remarked “My stuff comes from the fact that my life has been miserable. I now don’t believe I have the capacity to be happy. I would settle for peace of mind. I’d give anything for that. But it’s been a completely wasted life. Completely and utterly wasted. Everything just seems to get worse and worse. I can’t see that much great stuff going on in the world, you know? I would rather be happy and have no act. Some would say I’m unhappy and still have no act,” At the end of which he managed a smile.
This writer just recently had a chance to meet with Jerry and he turned out (that day) to be an affable, accommodating, generous and charming man. I hope he does achieve a level of happiness. The world would be a much blander and less hilariously thrilling place without him.
I have no monologues or clips I can advise you watch here to find out more about Jerry’s work. He fiercely monitors and unsolicited examples appearing on the net. So Instead I’ve provided a link to his website, where you can find out his current tour dates. I couldn’t recommend enough to any comedy aficionados getting out there and experiencing his unique and masterly talents first hand.