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The former first minister of Scotland and now ex-MP made the gag in the second edition of his show on Sunday.
He told the audience: “I promised you today we’d either have Theresa May or Nicola Sturgeon, or Ruth Davidson or Melania Trump, but I couldn’t make any of these wonderful women come…”
Following a drum roll delivered by his onstage band he added: “To the show”.
Critics blasted the former minister for reducing powerful women to “sexualising punchlines” and said he would not be winning any awards for his comedy show performed at the city’s Assembly Rooms.
Labour MSP Monica Lennon said: “It would be wrong to laugh these comments off as a bit of banter, this is a former First Minister degrading politicians.
“Alex Salmond should know that comments like these are simply unacceptable and he should apologise. It would set a horrendous example to young men if he tries to hide behind these sexist comments as risque humour.”
But a spokesman for the 62-year-old ex SNP leader said: “Don’t be absurd. They are green at the gills. Scottish Labour are just miffed they didn’t get a mention.
“It’s the Edinburgh Fringe we are at, not fringe politics with Labour.”
Talat Yaqoo, founder of the Women 50:50 campaign group which lobbies for equal gender representation in politics, said: “We hear time and time again that women are put off entering politics because of the vast sexism they face.
“This attempt at a joke is an illustration of that sexism. Reducing the first minister and the prime minister to a sexualised punchline is unacceptable and we should expect better from someone with the political experience of Alex Salmond.”
The Scottish Tory MSP Murdo Fraser said: “Alex Salmond has gone from being first minister to a bore propping up the bar in the space for a few years.”
He made the gag on the first day of his Unleashed gig, which has been described as “a festival of fun, friends and freedom”, during a two-week run at the world’s largest arts festival.
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