Pleasance releases new statement after cancelling show 'extreme in its racism, sexism, homophobia and misogyny'
The show took place late last week
The Pleasance has released a full statement following its decision to cancel a comedy show presented by Scottish performer Jerry Sadowitz.
The controversy over the show began when Sadowitz tweeted saying: "Did a show last night, 75 mins, thought it went well. Didn't see any walkouts. Today I'm told my show's been cancelled. Great stuff. I'm truly sorry for everyone who travelled to see the show tonight."
Following social media comments and articles over the last 24 hours, venue operator Pleasance today released a full statement explaining their rationale, after stating they had received "an unprecedented number of complaints".
We have printed the latest statement here in full: "As previously stated, the Pleasance chose to pull Jerry Sadowitz's second and final show. Due to numerous complaints, we became immediately aware of content that was considered, among other things, extreme in its racism, sexism, homophobia and misogyny. 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 [contrary to Sadowitz's tweet] 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.
"At the Pleasance, our values are to be inclusive, diverse and welcoming. We are proud of the progress we have made across our programming, which includes significant investment and support for Black, Asian and Global Majority artists, LGBTQ+ voices, those from working-class backgrounds, and the strong representation of women. We do not believe that racism, homophobia, sexism or misogynistic language have a place in our venues.
"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 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."
Comments on social media suggested that the exposure of genitalia took place during the show, despite the fact the Fringe Society's website's copy said: "This show contains strong language and themes some may find distressing", and made no mention of nudity.