discovered the Scottish talent. ‘I get angry when I think how I had to move down from Glasgow to London to get work. I did pubs in Glasgow, but there didn’t seem to be any money or anyone interested in entertainment. It seems you’ve got to be known in London before you are accepted up there. If I want to perform in Glasgow, I know I’ll lose a lot of money.’ And before that he was getting angry about having to busk for a living. After a poor Jewish childhood in Glasgow, and temporary jobs, he took to the streets with a vengeance, becoming legendary for threatening crowds with death if they didn’t give him some money. ‘I was being abusive because they were enjoying it and not giving any money. Also because it was raining and I didn’t have anything. It angers me when they think you’re doing it because you enjoy it, like someone enjoys standing at the bottom of an escalator singing. He’s not enjoying it, he’s scraping a living together.’ At that stage his street act was mainly based on magic, the comedy coming later, an off-shoot of his frustration with the world, and an instant hit at London’s Comedy Store where he was first noticed. ‘I got fed up with the magic and a lot of comedy started taking off in my brain. I hate magic, but I love cards and really close-up sleight of hand, but you can’t do much of that on stage.‘ Gerry estimates that he is one of the top six in the country with a pack of cards, having practised his card tricks religiously for two hours a day since the age of eleven. But his
act now contains only moments of genuinely skilled magic, the rest being a parody of the ﬂashiest con-magicians’ tricks using an assortment of the ﬂashiest props you can buy - the next illusion he wants to buy costs a staggering £650, a fact of life that he will be eager to share with his audience if his finances stretch that far.
Despite obvious talent and generally appreciative audiences, Sadowitz feels far from secure in his chosen profession. He is living with the aid of a government enterprise scheme grant of£40 per week, with the future far from certain after he has got through the shows lined up before Christmas. His record entitled ‘Gobshite‘ has hardly amassed him a fortune since its release in October. ‘l’ve sold five copies. Undoubtedly I’ve been hit by the plummeting shares and the fact that people don’t have the money to buy things anymore‘, he suggests. For those who have survived the crash he is ﬂogging it at the end of each performance for five pounds or by post (cheques for £5 plus 90p P&P payable to Tunnel Arts) through his manager, Malcolm Hardy at 101 , Humber Road, Blackheath London SE3 7LM. ‘It‘s got 25 minutes on each side and it’s got a better cover than Sergeant Pepper, or that’s what I tell people’, he adds enticingly.
I’ll be in clerical work
Having seen his act, it is hard to believe he is not famous and signing dozens of record each day. But then life’s not like that. Gerry even manages to make an invitation to the Melbourne International Festival of Comedy in Australia next year sound like a bit of a disaster. ‘It is a question of whether I can cope With the flight. I’m terriﬁed of ﬂying because when I‘m up there I know for certain it is going to crash. I took the shuttle from Scotland to London and I was shaking for days. I don’t know how I’d cope with Australia. With trains and cars I’m all right. I reckon if the entire train keeled over, I’d be one of the lucky ones.’
One of the funniest comics of the new new wave, Sadowitz’ fear of flying goes beyond aeroplanes. Now on his second orange juice and becoming rapidly deafer as the pub ﬁlls up, Gerry gives his honest opinion of where his future lies. ‘I think I’ll be doing a proper job. This time next year I’ll be in clerical work. I had a sales job at 81‘ at one time and that was a really pushy number - something like that again maybe.’ He is entirely serious. ‘Unless you’ve got an act that you can do on TV, there is really not a lot of point. And very few people will take the chance
to book me live. Without television publicity you can really shock people because they don’t know what to expect. I’ve got more going against me than for me.’ Things may happen, he conceded. ‘But I’m not going to ﬁght an uphill battle - I’ll just stop.’ Catch him while you can. Gerry Sadowitz is at the Pavilion Theatre, Glasgow on 28 Nov and the Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh on 29 Nov.
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The List 27 Nov— 10 Dec 1987 9