Ricky Gervais reminded us recently, as if we'd forgotten, that language can still offend en masse if its use is misjudged.
While connotations and context are key, Jerry Sadowitz, currently “enjoying” his first national tour since he started out a quarter of a century ago, is an ever-present reminder that persona is also a part of the offence equation.
Compared to the crazed and scattergun Sadowitz, more economical and slick comedians such as Frankie Boyle and Jimmy Carr can seem cold, at least to those who are unconvinced they carry jokes with no intent other than wordplay.
The main words that the 50-year old veteran plays with are the f-word and the c-word, key chords in his symphony of misanthropy that has changed little over the years. The repeated use of these words along with race taboos such as the n-word and the p-word are added to a melting pot that overflows with self-loathing. “I'd rather be a second-rate Bernard Manning than a first rate Jerry Sadowitz” he claims.
That the joke is on Sadowitz is lost on some who are seeing his tourettes-like tirades for the first time. The venom of his sometimes unfocused rants, for example a blunt routine on the late Jimmy Saville's personal habits, leaves a few audience members uneasy as to which level of irony they should be processing it all on and so, for example, it would come as a surprise for them to learn that Derren Brown, described tonight as “gay Nazi paedo” was helped in his early career by Sadowitz.
For the initiated more of the same does not breed the kind of contempt that Sadowitz appears to have for everyone and everything, including himself, but the rhythms of his work can brow-beat and the content, from having a go at the Chinese for their lack of consonants before their inevitable global reign begins to the aforementioned Jimmy Saville routine, can seem immaterial.
Ludicrous posturing, baiting and self-loathing is, however, too chaotic a mix not to throw up some memorable moments. Like Stewart Lee, who precedes him at this venue, Sadowitz makes much of his place in the industry, labeling himself “Russell Howard's evil twin” and lamenting Michael McIntyre for talking about “why crumbs coagulate on the top of your toaster.” Self-referential, maybe, but for some these lighter moments will be like safety words for Sadowitz's sado-massochistic ride.
Until 17th December at Leicester Square Theatre, 08448 733433, www.leicestersquaretheatre.comReuse content