Reviews: Glasgow International Comedy Festival 2012, week 2

Glasgow International Comedy Festival


Jerry Sadowitz


Stand Up For Palestine


Stewart Lee


All shows King’s Theatre, Glasgow


Reviews by Mark Brown


“Thanks for coming”, says Jerry Sadowitz at the end of his stand-up show, entitled ‘Comedian, Magician, Psychopath’. “Has the most controversial living Scotsman mellowed?”, I hear you ask. Has he f***!

His fond farewell comes at the end of a characteristically expletive-charged rant in which Sadowitz expresses his deep-felt hatred of, in no particular order: Aberdonians, Edinburghians, Geordies, the people of Yorkshire, Mancunians, Liverpudlians, Londoners, the Welsh, capitalists, the Tories, the Liberal Democrats, the Labour Party, black people, Pakistanis, the Chinese, Americans, Billy Connolly, all TV comedians, scientists, journalists, gay people, women, and men.  That is not a comprehensive list, incidentally. The raging misanthropic pessimism of the show (catchphrase, “it’s all f****ed”) also extends to Scots, Jews and, logically enough, himself.

Sadowitz (or his on-stage alter-ego, at any rate) has – like a phenomenally bad tempered cross between Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry (“Harry’s not racist, he hates everyone”) and Lenny Bruce – got angrier with age. Being outraged by his indiscriminate verbal nihilism (as, on Friday night, a young woman in the grand circle was by a particularly obnoxious skit extolling the virtues of rape) is about as pointless as asking Craig Whyte for a character reference. As Sadowitz says himself (while explaining his homicidal hatred of Michael McIntrye), “I’ve gone from being offensive to being unacceptable because that c***’s the f***ing reference point.”

Sadowitz may bust taboos with all the subtlety of an Israeli invasion of Gaza, but his violently unleashed comedy remains as compelling as a hotel fire.

Talking of Israeli invasions, some of Scottish comedy’s biggest names were out for Monday’s night’s Stand Up For Palestine gig (raising cash for the Palestine Legal Aid Fund). Excellent compere Martin Mor had a nice idea when he got the entire audience to stick up two fingers at him, so that he could photograph it for a future “Welcome to Glasgow” advertising campaign (although a request for us to throw “Sieg Heil” salutes was a bit of an own goal, given the pro-Israel lobby’s insistence that Palestine solidarity is fuelled by anti-Semitism).

Frankie Boyle (who’s pro-Palestinian views have been expressed in characteristically controversial style in the past) offered a typically strong set, with material ranging from the death of Whitney Houston (which has busted his accumulator at the bookies, because she went before Paul Gascoigne) to the “Michael Jackson Children’s Hospital”. There was good material, too, from David Kay (part-nerd, part-Chick Murray), Bruce Morton, Fred Macaulay and, the people’s choice, Gary Tank Commander.

If, ironically, there was very little politics in the Palestine gig, Stewart Lee (who is like a fusion of Eric Morecambe and Noam Chomsky these days)went some way to making up the deficit with a typically clever set littered with dubiously “factual” quotes, such as the Norwegian fascist mass-murderer Anders Behring Breivik’s admiration for the work of Jeremy Clarkson. A highlight of the set came in Lee’s sharply satirical attempt to meet the demands of right-wing commentators who insist that every joke should be “balanced” by similar material about Muslims and Islam.

There’s good stuff about wanting to be a successful, dead comedian (like “lazy, dead Bill Hicks”). Oh, and, as evinced by a moment in which he runs around the stage like a prat, smiling inanely and playing with his microphone cord, Lee hates Michael McIntrye too.

These reviews were originally published in the Sunday Herald on March 25, 2012

© Mark Brown

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