by Mark Kennedy | The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Jackie Mason, a rabbi-turned-comedian whose fervent brand of standup comedy took him to Catskills nightclubs, West Coast talk shows and Broadway stages, has died. He was 93 years old.
Mason died Saturday at 6 p.m. ET on Mt. After more than two weeks of hospitalization at Sinai Hospital in Manhattan, celebrity lawyer Raul Felder told The Associated Press.
Irritated Masons were known for their sharp wit and piercing social commentary, often about differences between Jews and Gentiles, men and women, and their own inadequacies. His typical style was a surprise to the people.
“Eighty percent of married men in America cheat. The rest cheat in Europe, ”he once joked. Another Mason line was: “Politics doesn’t make awkward bedfellows, it marries.” About himself, he once said: “I was so self-conscious, every time the football players got confused; I thought they were talking about me.”
Mason was born to Jacob Mazza, the son of a rabbi. His three brothers became rabbis. So did Mason, who once had congregations in Pennsylvania and North Carolina. Comedy eventually proved to be a more frequent calling than God.
“A person has to feel emotionally barren or empty or hopeless to be a comedian,” he told the Associated Press in 1987. “I don’t think people who feel comfortable or happy are motivated to be comedians. You’re looking for something and you’re willing to pay a big price to get that attention.”
Mason started out in show business as a social director at a resort in the Catskills. He was the one who got everyone ready to play Simon Says, a quiz game or shuffleboard. He also told jokes. After one season, he was playing clubs throughout the Catskills for better money.
“No one else knew me, but in the mountains, I was a hit,” Mason recalled.
In 1961, the pint-sized comic got its big break, an appearance on Steve Allen’s weekly television variety show. His success brought him to “The Ed Sullivan Show” and other shows.
He was banned from the “Sullivan” show for two years after he allegedly gave the host a finger when Sullivan signaled him to complete his assignment during an appearance on October 18, 1964. .
Mason’s work also brought him to Broadway, where he did several one-man shows including “Freshly Squeezed” in 2005, “Love Thy Neighbor” in 1996, and “The World According to Me” in 1988, for which he received a special award. met. Tony Award.
“I feel like Ronald Reagan tonight,” Mason joked to Tony Night. “He was an actor all his life, knew nothing about politics and became President of the United States. I’m a former rabbi who knows nothing about acting and I’m getting a Tony Award.
Mason called himself an observer who watched and learned from people. From those comments he said that he got his jokes and then tried them on friends. “I’d rather make a fool of myself in front of two people than a thousand people paying for tickets,” he told the AP.
His humor could leap from computers and designer coffee to then-Sen. John Kerry, former Prime Minister of Israel Ariel Sharon and Donald Trump. He was able to convey the anger of the average Joe, making life’s outrage seem funny and perhaps a little more bearable.
“I very rarely write anything. I just think about life a lot and try to put it in phrases that become a joke,” he said. “I never make a joke that has a point where But don’t believe me. For me, the message and the joke are one and the same.”
On TV, Mason was a reliable presence, usually with a cameo in shows like “30 Rock” or “The Simpsons” or as a credible guest on late-night chat shows. He performed in front of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and his show “Fearless” played in London’s West End in 2012.
He portrayed a Jewish ex-pajama salesman in love with an Irish-Catholic widow portrayed by Lynn Redgrave in a series called “Chicken Soup” in 1989, but it didn’t work out. During the OJ Simpson murder trial, the Scottish Service of the British Broadcasting Corp appointed Mason as weekly commentator.
Mason’s humor sometimes went too far, such as when he touched on a controversy in New York while campaigning for GOP mayoral candidate Rudolph Giuliani against Democrat David Dinkins, who was Black. Mason had to apologize after saying, among other things, that Jews would vote for Dinkins because of the crime.
Felder, his longtime friend, told the AP that Mason had a Talmudic outlook on life: “that whatever you say to him, he will start an argument with you.”
He is survived by his wife, producer Jill Rosenfeld, and a daughter, Sheba.