THE PLEASANCE has defended its decision to cancel a show by Jerry Sadowitz after comics, writers and artists accused them of censorship.

The controversial Scottish comedian and magician was supposed to play two nights at the world’s largest arts festival but had his second show pulled by the venue. 

Anthony Alderson, the director of the Pleasance said the material "presented at his first show" was "not acceptable and does not align with our values."

He added: “This type of material has no place on the festival and the Pleasance will not be presenting his second and final show.”

According to the Scottish Sun, Mr Sadowitz used a racist term to describe Tory leadership hopeful Rishi Sunak and exposed his penis to a female audience member.

The decision to cancel the show sparked a furious backlash. 

Al Murray posted: “Godammit Jerry I'm sorry.”

Simon Evans said: “If you can identify the line that got you cancelled then I for one am willing to nick it. And I think every other comic should too. This is our Spartacus moment.”

Michael Redmond tweeted: "This is a bloody disgrace. How can one audience one night deprive the audience the following night of a show they clearly wanted to attend."

In a new statement, the Pleasance said they "chose to pull Jerry Sadowitz’s second and final show" after becoming "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."

They added: "A large number of people walked out of Jerry Sadowitz’s show 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."

The Pleasance said they do not "vet the full content of acts in advance" and while they knew that Mr Sadowitz is a controversial comedian, they "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."

The Scottish comedian has long been known for offensive and provocative material. 

Mr Sadowitz was knocked unconscious by a furious audience member at the Just For Laughs festival in Montreal 1991.

Responding to the new statement from the venue, Mr Sadowitz told the British Comedy Guide: "I don't wish to humiliate the Pleasance but they are doubling down on their position and I don't want to be made the victim of that.

"I repeat, I did a 75 minute show for 600 people that went pretty well and left with no hint of anything going wrong.

"In addition to now being told there were multiple walkouts and 'abuse of staff' my act is now being cheapened and simplified as unsafe, homophobic, misogynistic and racist.

"I am not J** D******* folks. A lot of thought goes into my shows and while I don't always get it right, especially at the speed of which I speak, and I don't always agree with my own conclusions, I am offended by those who, having never seen me before, hear words being shouted in the first five minutes before storming out without listening to the material which I am stupid enough to believe is funny, sometimes important and worth saying.

"Additionally, there's a lot of silly, exaggerated irony and nonsense, real and exaggerated anger and bile, and even getting my dick out is for the purpose of the funny line which follows it. No I won't tell you what it is. See the show for yourself, or better still just stay at home.

"I ask nobody to agree with anything I say or do on stage. God forbid they should end up like me. And I have never once courted a mainstream audience to come to my shows because guess what? In real life, I really don't want to upset anyone, including Anthony Alderson.

"The show is what it is, for those who enjoy it. The rest of you please stick to Carry On films.

"P.S. If the Pleasance can't apologise to me they should at least apologise to the 300 people who paid for and travelled to see the show on Saturday."