A difficult, though fullish Friday night gig, with drunk men chatting throughout (I had to tell them off twice) and occasionally throwing off the timing with a pointless remark. I don't think I was on top form, but the audience seemed a little slow to get the jokes and distant for some of it. But when you're scared that a heckle will be thrown into any gap you leave it is hard to get the timing spot on. It was an OK performance, but hard work and a strange atmosphere hung in the air like a fart that had no smell but could still somehow be sensed telepathically.
It would be nice if I got a sell-out tomorrow, though I think it might just fall short. In the end the last couple of weeks have gone some way to making up for those early disappointments and overall I have sold more tickets for the London run of Christ than I did for the London run of Hitler, even though I have done 5 weeks this time instead of 2. It certainly doesn't feel like I have done 24 shows already. That's the equivalent of an Edinburgh run. I still feel surprisingly fresh and energised and it's been great being able to go home every night.
Afterwards I hung around in the theatre to watch the amazing Jerry Sadowitz. I have been a fan of this disgraceful and criminally underrated comedian since 1987 when I saw him at the Gilded Balloon. He turns profanity and offence into an art form. He will leave you gasping for breath with laughter and then just gasping at the awful things he has said. You will certainly be offended by some of the stuff he says, unless you are a moron and yet in a sense you'd have to be a moron to be genuinely offended. Because once you're on this ride everyone is going to be attacked and you're going to hear stuff that will upset liberal sensibilities, much of which is indefensible and awful, but that's the point, I suppose. I can't exactly pin down why Sadowitz's use of the word "spastic" is funny whilst Frankie Boyle's is not (in my mind at least), although I think it's mostly to do with the raw pain that underlies Jerry's act. It has an honesty that is lacking in most comedy, even though perversely I don't think Jerry honestly thinks the things he says (he is a charming, if frightening man in real life). But even if it's not true it's real, or the anger comes from a real place, even if it is exaggerated. He hates everyone and everything, but mostly himself. He is punching downwards, but managing to punch himself in the face. I laughed til I cried, I felt sick, I watched in awe at the wonderful responses and emotions he elicited from his crowd. You can understand his anger against all other comedians, because compared to him they are all phonies. And whilst at his best Frankie Boyle can use offence as beautifully as this, he is nowhere near as complete a package or as brilliant a comedian as Jerry (and it's hard to think of anyone who is) and he owes a lot to him. Sadowitz made me feel like all other comedy was frivolous and silly and pointless - perhaps only while I was in a theatre watching him - but he is one of those acts who has discovered a new level in comedy, like Kitson and Minchin and pretty much no one else. He discusses layers of irony covering layers of actually meaning it, covering layers of irony and so on, but it works because it isn't pretentious or clever/clever and yet it is truer and more challenging than most if not all drama. Horrible thoughts about immigrants and disabled people and atrocities and gay people pepper the act which also will suddenly have focused and insightful anger towards politicians and hypocrites. Sometimes it is funny because of the paucity of imagination in the insults and sometimes it is funny because of wonderfully chosen language or imagery. His use do the phrase "wearing a hat saying "I love pizza"" made me laugh for about five minutes. Here is comedy as a catharsis and it's not easy to enjoy it all - there were a few disgruntled walk-outs, but that just made you laugh and wonder about what people had expected - but you end up realising that sometimes it is good to offended. And that with certain comics it doesn't matter if you suspect portions of the audience agree with some of the awful ideas that are expressed. Because there is a part of us that feels as aggrieved and confused and angry as him. He really is not fettered by political correctness or worrying about saying the wrong thing. You really don't know for sure what he really thinks or where he is capable of going. There is genuine danger there. Might his supersoaker be full of urine? There is a chance it might. You can imagine him putting a little bit of his wee in there at least. It's nihilistic and destructive, but creative and beautiful. He's 50 and still firing on all cylinders (proving his disgruntled nemesis Boyle wrong on another point) and it's not fair that he isn't better known or that Channel 4 haven't dared to go for the real deal and put him on TV. There's something of Spike Milligan in him. I left feeling like I had been steam-rollered, but elated, with tears running down my face. If you see just one show at the Leicester Square Theatre on Saturday night then see his. It's one man against the world. And the man is a twat. But you'll love him for hating you. Or you might walk out.