WARNING! THERE ARE MULTIPLE USES OF THE ‘F’ WORD AND THE ‘C’ WORD IN THIS PIECE… PROCEED AT YOUR PERIL IF YOU ARE OF A NERVOUS OR EASILY-OFFENDED DISPOSITION… OTHER BLOGS ARE WIDELY AVAILABLE TO READ ELSEWHERE…
Yesterday’s blog was an extract from the late Malcolm Hardee’s 1996 autobiography I Stole Freddie Mercury’s Birthday Cake in which Malcolm recalled being, for a time, Jerry Sadowitz’s manager/agent in the 1980s.
I encountered Jerry through Malcolm during that time and later, in 1990, I produced a couple of TV shows for BSB (the precursor to BSkyB) via Noel Gay Television.
One was Malcolm Hardee: 25 Years in Showbiz, a variety show interspersed with various people, including Jerry, paying tribute to Malcolm.
The other was an episode of Noel Gay’s series The Last Laugh.
The Last Laugh with Jerry Sadowitz was recorded to be a 55-minute show though it was later transmitted as a 45-minute show (for general scheduling reasons, not because of content).
BSB had a fairly liberal remit for comedy content.
Comedians were allowed to swear, within reason, and could use the words ‘fuck’ and ‘cunt’ if they were an integral and essential component of the routine – ie if removing or changing the words would weaken the gag.
However, as Jerry tended to have a high level of expletives in his act – and, indeed, at one time used to say, with some justification, that “The word ‘cunt’ is a term of affection in Glasgow”, I thought trying to bar him from using the F and the C words altogether would damage the flow of his delivery of the lines.
So I told him in advance something like (I can’t remember the precise words nor the exact number):
“Try not to swear but we can probably cope with a couple of ‘cunts’ and four or five ‘fucks’. We won’t cut them out or bleep them but, if you try not to use them at all then, if a few slip through in the nature of the act… that’s OK.”
Imagine my surprise when he did the whole comedy and magic act, full-on for 55 minutes without a single ‘fuck’ or ‘cunt’. And he was still able to maintain the offensiveness of the act.
There was one, not really surprising, problem though.
During the show, there were two lesbians in the audience whom Jerry spotted and, inevitably, he started making them the butt of some of his material.
Afterwards they made clear to me and others how outraged they had been by all this “offensive” material aimed at them.
I can’t remember whether Jerry was there when they complained or whether I told him afterwards.
But he was, in my opinion, genuinely taken aback that anyone would or could be actually offended and complain about the content of his comedy show. His reaction was – and again I paraphrase here – “But it’s a comedy show!”
I tend to agree with him.
(The lesbians were cut out of the transmitted show for flow-of-the-programme reasons, not for offensiveness reasons.)