Tuesday, August 25, 2015
No list of the great Jewish comedians can be complete without Jackie Mason. The 84-year-old veteran of stand-up comedy is still performing with bookings scheduled for 2015 and 2016 in New York and in Florida.
Born in Sheboygan, Wisconsin as Yacov Moshe Maza, Jackie Mason was raised on the Lower East Side of Manhattan surrounded by rabbis.
His father, grandfather, great grandfather, and great, great-grandfather were all rabbis, as are his three brothers. No surprise that at age 25, Jackie Mason was ordained a rabbi.
Three years later, he quit his job in a synagogue to become a comedian because, as he says, "Somebody in the family had to make a living."
From humble comic beginnings in New York, the Borscht Belt, and comedy clubs around the country, Jackie Mason rose to be one the hottest comics in America in the early 1960's.
He reached the apex of American entertainment culture when he became a regular performer on the nation's preeminent television variety program, "The Ed Sullivan Show," only to fall into Sullivan's disfavor over the interpretation of a now legendary hand gesture during a live performance in 1962, an incident which cast a shadow over Mason's career for more than a decade.
Mason first emerged from that shadow in Los Angeles, where his one-man show, "The World According to Me" originated in 1984 to wide acclaim. Yet the great triumph was his return to New York a nd his extraordinary success as a one-man show on the Great White Way.
In 2008 he filled a large theater on Broadway with his one-man show, The Ultimate Jew. Here is a video clip from that show in which he shares his observations on how many Jews try to conceal their heritage and blend in to the general population.
(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS: THE VIDEO MAY NOT BE VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY ON SOME COMPUTERS AND TABLETS. YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)