(born Yacov Moshe Maza
, in Sheboygan
) is an American stand-up comedian
. He grew up in New York City (on the Lower East Side of Manhattan).
Mason graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the City College of New York and,at the age of 25, was ordained, as his three brothers and father had been, a rabbi in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. Three years later he resigned to become a comedian.
In 1992 , Mason won an Emmy for his voice-over of Rabbi Hyman Krustofski in The Simpsons episode "Like Father, Like Clown" making him the first guest star to win an Emmy for his role. In a 2005 poll to find the Comedian's Comedian, Mason was voted among the top-50 comedy acts ever by fellow comedians and comedy insiders. He was also ranked #63 in Comedy Central Presents: 100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time.
John Byner impersonated Mason for the Aardvark cartoon character in the DePatie-Freleng cartoon series The Ant and the Aardvark.
Mason had several one-man comedy stage shows
over the years. His first Broadway
show was called The World According to Me
, which was well-received. Later, he had a show at the John Golden Theatre
, called Politically Incorrect
, which ran into copyright
problems because it was performed at the same time that Bill Maher
show of the same name
was on the air. Mason eventually changed the name of the show to Jackie Mason: Politically Correct
to settle the situation. Between these shows, Mason played the lead in a short-lived television
show called Chicken Soup
alongside Lynn Redgrave
Mason has been involved in several controversies over the course of his career.
In 1964, Mason allegedly gave Ed Sullivan the finger
on a live telecast
of Sullivan's weekly variety show
. Sullivan terminated Mason's US$45,000.00 contract on the spot. Mason denied that he made the obscene gesture, insisting that he flashed numerous fingers
and that the gesture was misinterpreted. He later retaliated against Sullivan by filing (but later dropping) a libel
suit. A year and a half later, Mason again appeared on Sullivan's show, where Sullivan publicly apologized to Mason. Mason dropped the lawsuit shortly after. That was Mason's last appearance on Sullivan's show.
A video recording of the incident shows Mason talking through his comedy set and then looking to his right (viewers' left), toward Sullivan, commenting on the fact that Sullivan was giving him finger-signals. Sullivan may have been trying to tell Mason to wrap up his segment. Regardless, Mason continued commenting, talking toward Sullivan instead of the audience and thumb one's nose at him with his middle finger slightly separated from the others. The action left Sullivan with the impression that Mason had given him the finger on live TV. From Jackie Mason's viewpoint, Ed Sullivan's finger signals caught the attention of the audience, which distracted them from paying attention to his stand-up routine. As soon as Jackie realized that he was losing not only his audience at the studio but also millions watching him on live TV, he did some quick thinking and began to improvise his stand-up, using his own fingers to make jokes about Mr. Sullivan holding up fingers to signal the number of minutes Jackie Mason had left for his routine. When watching the slow motion replays of this incident it is clear that Jackie Mason's finger movements did not include giving the finger to Ed Sullivan.
After Mason left the stage, the TV camera then cut to Sullivan, who was looking agitated over what had just transpired—his arms were folded tightly and he was staring downward.
Allegations of racism
In 1991, he was criticized by African-American
organizations such as the NAACP
when he called New York mayor David Dinkins
"a fancy Schvartze
with a moustache
." He later apologized. He was later accused of racism
when the American comic Ray Hanania
, of Palestinian
descent, was axed from opening for him at a Chicago
In a January 29, 2003, article in The Jewish Press
, co-authored with Raoul Felder and headlined "Time to Threaten Arabs with Mass Eviction," Mason counselled Israeli leaders to consider the total expulsion of Palestinians from Israel
, the West Bank
, and Gaza Strip
. Mason and Felder wrote, “We have paralyzed ourselves by our sickening fear of World Opinion, which is why we find it impossible to face one simple fact: We will never win this war unless we immediately threaten to drive every Arab out of Israel if the killing doesn't stop.” They added, “We are brain-dead if we accept the idea that we have to guess which Arab is our next killer. We are not obligated to victimize ourselves by letting the Arabs play Russian roulette with Jewish lives. Israelis are constantly asked the same obnoxious question: 'How can you throw the Arabs out? where would they go?' The answer is, if they don't care whom they kill, why are we obligated to care where they go?”
Jews for Jesus lawsuit
On August 28, 2006, Mason filed a lawsuit
against the group Jews for Jesus
for using his likeness in a pamphlet. His image was used next to the tag line "Jackie Mason...a Jew for Jesus!?" Mason said in court papers filed in New York:
While I have the utmost respect for people who practice the Christian faith, the fact is, as everyone knows, I am as Jewish as a matzo ball or kosher salami.
Mason has claimed that the group was using his image and fame to gain attention and converts. The group responded to the suit by saying, "Shame on him for getting so upset about this." The lawsuit was settled in 2006, with Jews for Jesus apologizing.
Mason also co-founded the organization One Jerusalem
in response to the Oslo peace agreement
. Its stated cause is "Saving a united Jerusalem
as the un-divided capital
Selected TV, Film and Radio Roles
- Jackie Mason's The World According to Me! (1988)
- An Audience with Jackie Mason (1990)
- Jackie Mason on Campus (1992)
- Jackie Mason at the London Palladium (1996)
- Jackie Mason: A Night at the Opera (2002)
- I'm the Greatest Comedian in the World, Only Nobody Knows it Yet! (1962)
- I Want to Leave You with the Words of a Great Comedian (1963)
- The World According to Me! (1987)
- Brand New (1991)
- Politically Incorrect
- In Israel
- Live at the London Palladium (1997)
- All New! Much Ado About Everything (2003)
- Prune Danish
- The Unholy Tour
- Freshly Squeezed
- The Ultimate Jew (2008)
- Jackie Mason's the World According to Me! (1986–1988)
- Jackie Mason: Brand New (1990–1991)
- Jackie Mason: Politically Incorrect (1994–1995)
- Love Thy Neighbor (1996–1997)
- Much Ado About Everything (1999–2000)
- Jackie Mason: Prune Danish (2002–2003)
- Jackie Mason: Freshly Squeezed (2005–2006)
- Jackie Mason: The Ultimate Jew (2008)
Mason has appeared in over 200 self-written video blog entries on the popular YouTube Web site where he gives his opinions on current events and politics. This can be found at: www.youtube.com/theultimatejew