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Comedian Jackie Mason—Who Turns 82 Sunday—Is Still Really, Really Funny

But in an in-depth interview with Tablet Magazine, he also gets serious about Israel, anti-Semitism, and why Italians love him

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How long were you there?

Ten days.

So, you had a tremendous impact.

I would say if it were not for me, they would have lost the war! They were about to lose until I showed up. The whole general staff kept asking me every single day, “What do you think we should do about these missiles? Do you have any suggestions to protect us?” I said, “I’ll tell you what. Next time a missile comes down, give me a call.”

My Italian doctor and my best Italian friends tell me you are their favorite comedian. Why do the Italians love you so much? You told me that Italian audiences are the best.

Because the Italians are not stuck with the pretentiousness and the status-symbol sicknesses that the Jews have. A good percentage of the Jews like to feel that when they’re watching an entertainer that they’re elevating themselves. That’s why they go to an opera they don’t understand. A ballet. You don’t see Italians doing that. Italians go to a show they enjoy. They’re not self-conscious about what appeals to them the most. A certain percentage of Jews are proud to enjoy Jackie Mason, and there’s a certain percentage that like to say that he’s good but not as good as something else. But if he’s that great, then he’s a neighborhood guy who talks like us and that’s all I got and that’s all I know and that’s all I appreciate. It limits them to feel like they’re too Jewish themselves and that’s all they appreciate is a reflection of themselves and that this guy sounds like Brooklyn and I’m from Brooklyn and I’m trying to get out of there and I don’t want to identify myself with him as the main source of entertainment. If you enjoy him too much you’re just like him and it’s embarrassing.

Jackie Mason

In 1996, Mason protested against the Tony Awards in New York when his one-man Broadway comedy show Love Thy Neighbor was not nominated. The Tony Committee did not recognize the format as a play. (Jon Levy/AFP/Getty Images)

An Italian does not have any of these complexes. An Italian is not sitting there trying to imagine that while he’s working for a living the whole thing is a mistake because he really owns the company. He doesn’t have to pretend that he runs the world from a chair here and he’s really someplace in the hierarchy of running our government. Whatever he has, that’s it. So, the Italians enjoy themselves and they enjoy what they are. They don’t have any complexes about me. I’m an extension of themselves and they’re proud of it. As a matter of fact they get a kick out of it, that here’s a guy who sounds just like me, who’s just a Jewish version of me. When you’re out on stage in front of a Jewish audience, the first five minutes they’re evaluating my age and how much money I’m making and they’re evaluating everything except the jokes. They got no time for the jokes for the first 32 minutes. They’re thinking about a million problems; competitive problems, age problems, whatever it is, they relate it to me and I become the thing they have to answer for. Through me they have to answer for everything in their own life. Is he older than me, is he as old as me, is he too old for me? Italians are not competing with me. As soon as there’s a question period, every Jew asks a certain question that no Italian, I think, ever asked me: “How old are you?” Now, why is my age their business and how does it affect them? They came to hear a joke. All their complexes come out as soon as the questioning starts.

Are you referring to a specific segment of the Jews?

Even the Jews who are normal are not exactly normal. The truth of the matter is that there’s no such thing as a normal Jew. It’s no accident that the Jews get further in life than almost any other denomination. Because they’re always competing and trying to prove themselves, that they’ve gotten further and bigger and higher than anybody else. So, if you have such intensity about being someone important, the only way you could become that important is to accomplish something. So, they’re always accomplishing something more than the next person.

At the same time, because they’re so competitive, which is a beautiful thing to get ahead in life. But it’s also the reason they’re so jealous and bitter and a little obnoxious. Because they can’t say hello without telling me how they look better than me and they want my autograph but it’s not for themselves. Every time they give you a compliment they have to take it back. I have a classic thing that happened to me. A woman sits next to me and tells me how good I look. I said, “Do I really look that good?” She said, “You look very good.” I said “No kidding? I didn’t know I looked that good.” She said, “I didn’t say you looked that good.”

Even beyond the Italians, overall you seem to be more popular with the Gentiles than with the Jews.

What is true about the Italians is true about the goyim in general. Goyim in general live with their situation a lot more comfortably than the Jews do. Jews are never comfortable no matter who they are, no matter what their house is, they should have a bigger house. They have a $35 million house, somebody has a$ 40 million house. Always competing and comparing; they never admit to themselves this is the best thing they got. Jackie Mason is not a status symbol for the Jews, like Clark Gable. Except the Hasidic Jews. They love me, a secular Jew, unconditionally. Because they’re not involved with these complexes. They’re great audiences.

How would you define a self-hating Jew?

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In The Coming Possible Dark Ages Of Muslim Domination Israel
Will Be A Light Unto The Nations.

The next war will not be like WW 11; it will be more like an
Enlarged Terrorist War.

Our future: Europe will fall to Islam and large parts of
East and North Africa. America is losing right now but we don’t know how that
will go. It is possible that a new president will make a positive difference.
If America should fall the possibility of a new Dark Ages is Real. It will
depend on the America people if they should wake up and see the danger that
will make all the difference.

Louis Trachtman says:

How can anyone not love Jackie Mason? I laugh out loud just reading what he says, and tears of laughter come to my eyes, hearing him! Thanks for posting that interview!!!!

gwhepner says:


A woman says to Jackie Mason: “You look good.”

“No kidding?” he replies.

“I didn’t know I looked that good.” He would

have proved himself more wise

if he ‘d not said that, for the woman then retorted,

“I didn’t say that you looked that

good,” for any compliment that has been courted

makes fools fall on their faces flat.

Yechiel Gordon says:

Hilarious! Oh, my God, I feel so persecuted by the Palestinians, with their zero planes and their starvation diets in Gaza and their tendency to be tortured by the Israeli government! I feel so persecuted by occupying their land, oh my Gawd! Ha! Ha! Ha! Hilarious!

Oy, Mr. Ariel Sharon, I laughed until I cried when I heard you directed the Qibyah massacre and worked closely with the genocidal Rios Montt regime — now that Montt has been in the dock for genocide, Israel is almost as beloved as when we helped Apartheid era South Africa track the movements of black people all over the country.

And all those self-hating Jews, none of them named here! They hate themselves, so they criticize Israeli human rights violations! Yes! That is what an objective psychiatrist would diagnose as self-hatred! Oy, you are funny, FUNNY!

Yechiel Gordon says:

Hilarious! Oh, my God, I feel so persecuted by the Palestinians, with their zero planes and their starvation diets in Gaza and their tendency to be tortured by the Israeli government! I feel so persecuted by occupying their land, oh my Gawd! Ha! Ha! Ha! Hilarious!

Oy, Mr. Ariel Sharon, I laughed until I cried when I heard you directed the Qibyah massacre and worked closely with the genocidal Rios Montt regime — now that Montt has been in the dock for genocide, Israel is almost as beloved as when we helped Apartheid era South Africa track the movements of black people all over the country.

And all those self-hating Jews, none of them named here! They hate themselves, so they criticize Israeli human rights violations! Yes! That is what an objective psychiatrist would diagnose as self-hatred! Oy, you are funny, FUNNY!

Harry Truman says:

I am closing in 60 years old, and from the moment I saw this guy I never understood the attraction. He is part of this sub-group of American Jews who think criticism of anything Israel does is treason, criticism of any right wing Jew antisemitism, and the notion that Jews as a people are not genetically predisposed to genius heretical. His diction mocks, not honors, the fractured syntax and accent of immigrants a century ago who aspired to speak the King’s, and not pushcart, English. I’ll bet he thinks the prophet Jeremiah, and Yitzhak Rabin, were schmucks for being so down on their own people. The less we hear of Rabbi Mason, the better. He is a living monument to chilul hashem.

mbermangorvine says:

Very interesting. Mr. Mason clearly has a lot on the ball. I think his answer to the question about
anti-Israel Jews is spot on about these people’s
motivations (here’s looking at you, Liel Liebovitz) , though I do have some qualms about the last
sentence–clearly there are Palestinians in Israel and the West Bank whose experience of Jewish power has not been one of “never being bothered.”

Rich Klein says:

Jackie Mason in the interview sadly reinforces the same sick stereotypes Jews have been fighting for centuries. He’s more of a self hating Jew than someone supposedly proud of his heritage. But he’s used the “schtick” to make tons of money. Doesn’t mean it’s funny or even right. In short, he’s capitalized on anti-Semitism.

Son_of_J says:

Is it possible that Jackie Mason is more popular among non-Jews because he lets them laugh at Jews without feeling anti-semitic? His act always seemed to me as giving cover to people laughing at Jews. Even in this (unfunny) interview, Mason says vile things about the Jewish community as a whole, then criticizes OTHER Jews as self-hating.

Beatrix17 says:

In 1953 after numerous incursions by Palestinian infiltrators and the murder of a young mother and her two children, Israeli soldiers, whose nation was only 5 years old, entered the village of Qibyah where 77 civilians were killed. The Palestinians had only killed 24 Israelis.

Because of this, Israel made a vow to only fight back against military targets in the future, which is why Palestinians soldiers always hide among civilians so Israel can always be accused of killing civilians no matter how careful they try to be. If children are killed, the Palestinians insist that young male and female Israeli soldiers kill children deliberately.

The Palestinian propagandists use Israeli conscience against the Jewish people, as Gordon is trying to do here. And according to Gordon, because of
this long ago military excursion that Israel obviously regretted, Jews are not allowed to laugh any more.

Beatrix17 says:

Rios Mont became the dictatorial head of Guatemala in the 1980s as the result of a coup. He in turn was overthrown after which he served in the Guatemalan congress until recently. When he stepped down from office, he was put on trial for massacres, was found guilty 5/10/13, but this result was overturned by the Guatemalan courts 5/20/13.

The anti-Communist Mont was an ally of America. As another ally of America, Israel helped to train Mont’s troops and so, according to Gordon, Israel is responsible for any mistakes Mont made while in office. And because she made peace with Egypt, Israel must be responsible for the Muslim Brotherhood.

Meanwhile, think of all the murderous dictators and war mongering leaders the Palestinians have aligned themselves with, think of all the massacres they’ve participated in, yet their propagandists think its okay to blame Israel for her own and her allies mistakes.

Morrissey says:

At the start of the interview, this lame-brained old schmuck vapors on about intelligence, and decency, and helping people. Then a little later, he sneers at Jews who stand with the Palestinians against the persecution of the Israeli state: “To them a Palestinian is an underdog because he doesn’t have a fancy car and a big house. But how are they the underdog if they persecute the Jews all their lives and the Jews never bother them?”

That’s not only woefully dishonest, it is the kind of abject, stupid ranting that you would have heard from the most intolerant Jew-haters in Poland in the early 1940s. That it comes from someone who pretends to be affected by that horrific legacy is the most brutal irony.

There ARE decent, humane, thoughtful Jews who DO fight for human rights in the United States and in the Occupied Territories; silly old fools like this schlemiel are not part of that honorable, liberal, humanitarian tradition.

Morrissey says:

Israeli conscience is being used against the Jewish people, is it? Congratulations on composing the funniest piece of logical reasoning since this…

Only, yours isn’t funny, it’s repellent.

Mariana Petoom says:

Jackie Mason has never been funny–merely offensive.

Robin Fox says:

Jackie has a very talented and funny daughter who is a comedian- Sheba Mason. She is his child but even with DNA proof he does not have any relationship with her. He has done nothing to support her career as a comic and as far as I know never seen her perform. I used to adore this man but his values are totally messed up. He has a beautiful child and wants nothing to do with her. I know Sheba, she is a very sweet , hardworking and funny young lady . Shame on you Jackie. I lost all my respect for you. How bout you write an article about this….

Beatrix17 says:

Israel, like all countries, has made mistakes, but she’s the best nation the Middle East has produced since WW2.

Like you, I hope the Paletinians form a nation. Unlike you, though I wish Israel could do more, I think inept Palestinian leadership if more at fault that recalcitrant Israeli leaders, some of whom have offered the Palestinians the sun, moon and stars and have been ignored by the Palestinians or have had to suffer intifadas.

I’ve benefitted from liberalism, and conservatives are going to continue to fall flat on their faces if they don’t acknowledge liberal contributions (Social Security and Medicare are not going anywhere).

The drawback to liberals is that they can’t acknowledge people’s adulthood and independence. They think everyone has to be taken care of even in the prime of life. Palestinians, like Israelis, are in their prime, and there is no
reason that Palestinians can’t form their own nation. The problem is
that the Palestinian leaders want Israel to take over half their people (the right of return)—their leaders have no confidence in their own ability to run a nation.
That’s the conservative strong point—independence.

Beatrix17 says:

You know there are Palestinian millionaires and billionaires who are friends with their Israeli counterparts and who would like peace just as the Israelis would. You know that the Palestinians have their own leadership and free
elections, which their leaders don’t want to continue. You know that
Palestinians have their own security force and have had since the Oslo accords.

You know the land the Palestinians are on belonged to Jordan and Egypt not to Palestine. You know that Jordan exiled the Palestinians to the West Bank and Gaza after Arafat tried to overthrow the Jordanian King. You know that Israel won the land in the Six Day War and is the first nation to offer this land to the Palestinians for a homeland. You know that Hamas got Gaza because Sharon removed all the Jewish settlers and gave the land to the Palestinians. I’m sure you know all this and aren’t getting your historical perspective from Arab propaganda.

Morrissey says:

The Israeli occupiers have offered their victims “the sun, moon and stars”, have they?

Maybe they would be better advised to simply obey international law and return all the land they have stolen from the Palestinians, dismantle the illegal settlements, and tear down that annexation wall.

In other words, stop being a rogue state and start obeying the law.

South Africa did it, and so will Israel—eventually.

Morrissey says:

Robin, are you by any chance….Sheba?

Scott Tennis says:

If you don’t find Jackie Mason funny you’ve been born without a funnybone and/or, more likely, you’re one of those pro-arab idiot Jews who immediately recognized themselves in Mason’s characterization of that crew.

Beatrix17 says:

Israel hasn’t stolen land, hasn’t behaved like South Africa, has broken no international laws, and as a legitimate nation established by the UN, she is less a rogue state than America ,taken from the Indians, Australia, started by convicts on land stolen from Islanders, and England, started by people who lived in caves and painted themselves blue.

You really need to lay off the propaganda.

Beatrix17 says:

BTW, as has been said so many times, Israel only wants to keep two large settlements contiguous to Israel and has offered the Pals an equal amount of Israeli land, and the wall was built to stop Palestinians from blowing up buses, discos, and pizza parlors.

Beatrix17 says:

If you were only this clever about parsing Palestinian propaganda.

judahdan says:

Drink some more Kool-aid.

meirmoses says:

Yeah right. Why?

meirmoses says:

He’s a comedian, not a philosopher. He’s spot on about many things and he recognises that Jews find such levels of transparency intimidating.

meirmoses says:

Hilarious. You clearly haven’t even read the interview because clearly he doesn’t think these things in the slightest.

meirmoses says:

But Israel has a higher Muslim population by % than Europe! So how does that work?

Beatrix17 says:

Remember, when Israel helped Mont, an American ally, she didn’t know how he was going to turn out. Neither did we in America. How much can you blame Israel because some of the West’s allies turn out bad?

Mariana Petoom says:

I thought I explained why. His humor was offensive and gross. We don’t all dance to the same fiddler, so you may enjoy him and I found him absolutely not funny.

In a message dated 6/10/2013 8:54:40 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time, writes:

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Sheryl Burpee Dluginski says:

Thanks for this thought provoking interview David and Jackie. Judging from these comments Jackie Mason stirs up strong emotions in people. I hadn’t thought about it much before now, but my father, a gentile, was a big fan of Jackie Mason. He was also an anti-semite. And he took great pride in taking our family for long weekends away at Catskills resorts, especially the Concord, because it was the most expensive one. He said it was where all the rich Jews stayed and he wanted to show them that gentiles could afford it too! Hmmm…Ironic…and very interesting.

for a few short years, Mason’s humor was refreshing. He then degenerated into some pretty crude material and resorted constantly to his own brand of racism.

he’s an idea whose time has long passed with a following that is slowly making its way out to Welwood Cemetery on Long Island

41953 says:

The clip on Jewish husbands was sooooo dated. Assuming those sterotypes once existed, they don’t exist now.
if you wanted to show that Jackie Mason is funny, you made the wrong choice.

Yechiel Gordon says:

Ha! Ha! Ha! You are almost as funny as Jackie Mason himself!

Yechiel Gordon says:

Yes, Israel never looks into the records of the dictators they arm! They were– SHOCKED — to find that Somoza used Galil assault rifles to shoot people! Shocked to find that Idi
Amin used the weapons they had sold, they are still shocked that the illegal occupation of Palestine is illegal! Ha! Ha!

Rios Montt did not kill on purpose! It was a mistake — ha! when Israel provided weaponry to the gentle Suharto, they were surprised he made the mistake of killing 250,000 people.

Jackie Mason should hire you as a writer. Achh, what an imagination you have, my boy!!!!!

Yechiel Gordon says:

Yes, this is why Israel accidentally kills civilians on a regular basis, as for example the 1400 or so people they killed during the Cast Lead slaughter. I can see why you are laughing so hard, now.

Yechiel Gordon says:

Jeremiah and Rabin were essentially opposites — Jeremiah an opponent of state worship and Rabin a mass murderer and war criminal.

Beatrix17 says:

There was nothing accidental about it. Israel was attacked and fought back. As a result, Hamas is trying to stop further rocket attacks by its crazies.

Beatrix17 says:

I don’t blame your mother for you.

Morrissey says:

“Israel was attacked and fought back.” That is the precise opposite of the truth.

You are either a fool or a malicious liar. Probably both.

Morrissey says:

You have failed to mount a coherent response. Of course, there is nothing you can say to justify Israel’s murderous actions, but you don’t even try. You have the intellectual heft of, …oh, Jackie Mason.

judahdan says:

You have failed to notice that you are completely brainwashed.

Beatrix17 says:

Hamas admits to attacking Israel, but says it’s not their leadership that’s doing it, but rouge elements within their society.

Stop with the insults. They can’t replace facts, and all you seem to know is propaganda. Especially calling women names makes you seem like a spineless coward.

Beatrix17 says:

I’m a girl.
The occupation of the West Bank and Gaza only became an occupation because Israel offered this land they won from Jordan to the Palestinians. It has never belonged to the Palestinians and won’t belong to them until they sit down and negotiate a peace treaty with the “occupiers.”
No one said Mont was a good guy only that the West, who backed him, didn’t know at first that he’d be bad.
And you keep copying Morrisey’s ideas and vice versa.


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Comedian Jackie Mason—Who Turns 82 Sunday—Is Still Really, Really Funny

But in an in-depth interview with Tablet Magazine, he also gets serious about Israel, anti-Semitism, and why Italians love him