FOR much of the interview, Jerry Sadowitz is obstructive, answering questions with as few words as he can.
There are only two topics on which he talks at length. One is John Barry, the Bond film composer who died recently. Sadowitz was a huge fan.
The other is Just The Tonic, Nottingham’s longest running comedy club. Even though he’s only played there once. As far as he can recalls it’s the only time he’s been to the city.
Everything else I ask is given short shrift.
How are you?
I’m told you’re busy at the moment, doing what?
Tell me about your show.
“Stand-up... and maybe some magic.”
Will it be your take on current affairs?
“I’m not really sure. Whatever comes out of my mouth I suppose.”
You have a set though, surely?
“Yeah, I’ve got a set, you know.”
Comedy is huge these days, how do he feel about that?
“I don’t really give it too much thought, really.”
And so on...
It’s no surprise. Sadowitz, whose comedy has been described as “????”, doesn’t like talking to the media.
Prior to the interview his manager tells me not put it on the internet as Sadowitz doesn’t like the internet.
“I’ve yet to find a good reason for its existence,” says the 49-year-old, by way of an explanation.
And yet he does have his own website, albeit unfinished.
“It took a lot of persuasion to put a website up and then I thought you know what?”. He swears, indicating that he couldn’t be bothered to do it properly.
Although Sadowitz has a strong Glaswegian accent, he was born in New Jersey. When his parents split he moved with his mother to her native Scotland. Although he was performing on the circuit at the time of the alternative comedy boom of the early eighties, his material was largely in contrast to the right-on ideologies of the likes of The Young Ones, The Comic Strip and co. Jokes about Nelson Mandela and Terry Waite “I dunno, you lend some people a fiver, you never see them again” kept him outside the rising scene and he’s pretty much stayed underground ever since.
Despite that the likes of Stewart Lee acknowledge his influence. And he’s often listen high in the annual Channel 4 poll of 100 Greatest Stand-Ups, last year at No. 33.
Is he annoyed that fellow controversial Glasgow comic Frankie Boyle is making a fortune these days?
“Look, the guy is now incredibly rich, which doesn’t make him right but he could easily sue us both in to the ground, so...”
Like Boyle he’s had his own TV shows, with a few series on Channel 5 but his last appearance on the small screen was on Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle for BBC 2 in 2009.
Does he get asked to do reality TV shows?
“I’ve been asked to do Big Brother and I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here,” says Sadowitz.
And how long did it take for him to say no?
“It didn’t take too long.”
The first time he breaks in to a conversational sprint is when I ask him about John Barry.
“I guess the only good consistent thing in my life was his music,” he admits.
“I was nine and my sister was 11 and we were baby-sitting my cousin’s kid. The TV wasn’t working and there was a Dansette record player. We went through these singles and there was this piece of music that I thought was really brilliant. It was the b-side of a single. That’s all I can remember. I decided that I was going to listen to everything this guy had ever done.”
Sadowitz met Barry on one occasion.
He says: “I can be very depressed and I was even worse at the time, when I got a call saying he was going to be at a studio in Wembley. I thought I’d go and see if I could get an autograph. It’s great to meet someone you admire who turns out to be a nice person. Which he was. So out of this incredible depression I suddenly meet this guy. It was a strange situation.”
Was he star struck?
“I was an absolute moron, yeah. I was completely gaga. I was like a kid on Jim’ll Fix It or something. I made an absolute idiot of myself.”
Barry, the Oscar-winning composer best known for his Bond themes, died last month aged 77.
“It’s very strange. Maybe I’ve got some psychic vibe or something but I sent him a birthday card in November, saying thanks for the music.”
Although Sadowitz loves music he’s never managed to learn an instrument and never goes to gigs.
“I don’t go anywhere,” he deadpans.
What do you do when you’re not working?
“I spend most of my time looking after my mum.”
That’s at his home in London. So when did she move there from Scotland?
“That sort of stuff, I think, is of absolutely no interest to anybody.”
And it was going so well...
Future plans work wise?
“I’ve learnt not to have any future plans.”
Sensing he’s growing tired of the interview process, I prepare to sign off when he breaks in to another sprint, this time about Just The Tonic.
“I always have a bit of respect for people who book me. Darrell (Martin, Just The Tonic boss) genuinely likes what I do. And he feels there are a lot of people in Nottingham who would like what I do. To show that there’s other comedy out there that is not necessarily mainstream or on telly. I give him a lot of credit for that.
Jerry Sadowitz is at Just The Tonic, The Forum, The Cornerhouse on Sunday February 20. Tickets are £20, call 0115 910 0009 or go to www.justthetonic.com