CHRISTOPHER STEVENS looks back on Jackie Mason’s wit and wisdom

Many of Jackie Mason’s jokes are so politically incorrect that they can no longer be printed. But the former Bronx rabbi, who passed away at the age of 93, would scoff at such a delicacy.

As he might say, he’s dead now – who cares if he gets canceled too?

He delivered his slogans in a Yiddish accent that was thicker than borscht soup. He constantly addressed his audience: ‘Wasser issue, must I explain to you? Are you dead?’

The grosser his insults, the louder the people laughed—because in the end the target of his jokes was always himself, his own weaknesses and the Jewish penchant for self-deprecation.

CHRISTOPHER STEVENS: Many of Jackie Mason’s jokes are so politically incorrect that they can no longer be printed. But the former Bronx rabbi of New York, who passed away at the age of 93, would scoff at such a delicacy

He was never humble. His first LP in 1962 was called I’m The Greatest Comedian In The World, Only Nobody Knows It Yet. He regularly opened shows saying, ‘Thank you so much, this is a great opportunity for you to see me, you must be excited.’

Mason liked to claim he was “the Queen Mother’s favorite comedian.” She certainly admired him and told friends that he was “very smart and very cocky.”

But after a comedy show, he ruffled the feathers by refusing to wait in line and bow to her with the rest of the performers.

Born Yacov Moshe Maza in 1928, Mason rose to fame in the early 1960s on the Ed Sullivan Show in the US during the Kennedy era. And he didn’t care who he offended.

Everyone played fair, including the notoriously sensitive Ed Sullivan himself.

When the TV host once tried to cut his act short, to announce some news, Mason took offense and began copying the host’s hand gestures.

Sullivan held up two fingers; Mason gave him two back. Sullivan showed one finger, which means one minute. Mason showed one finger, which meant something completely different.

Mason (pictured next to Joan Rivers) liked to claim he was 'the Queen Mother's favorite comedian'

Mason (pictured next to Joan Rivers) liked to claim he was ‘the Queen Mother’s favorite comedian’

Later, when Sullivan accused him of obscene behavior, Mason launched a $3 million libel suit. And he was still invited to the show.

His refusal to flatter anyone nearly killed him after knocking Frank Sinatra off. The crooner was so annoyed by Mason’s disrespect in 1980s Las Vegas that he and a bunch of cronies collapsed on his show, interrupting and yelling insultingly at the stand-up.

Mason flared back, “If you need that much attention, you should go to a doctor, not my show.”

Sinatra walked out. Some time later, a gunman opened fire on the comedian’s hotel room. The Vegas police, Mason said, weren’t interested.

Here are some of his funniest lines. If you’re offended… sue Jackie Mason!

IN ENGLISH

“If an Englishman is hit by a truck, he apologizes to the truck.”

“England is the only country in the world where the food is more dangerous than the sex.”

‘I’m a sick man, I just got out of the hospital. You know this, all doctors are scammers.

In America, with insurance, they are open about being scammers. In England, with the National Health, it’s harder, but they’re all crooks at heart and they know it. Why do you think they wear masks when they operate? And let’s be honest, why are they wearing gloves? Fingerprints!’

ON THE IMPORTANCE OF MONEY

“Money is not the most important thing in the world. Love is. Luckily I like money.’

‘People don’t know how to be happy. That is why there are so many books on this subject. Every time you pick up a book, it tells you how to be happy. I saw a book last week entitled How To Be Happy Without Money. This book cost $15.’

“I don’t have to be in show business. Do you think I need this? I have enough money for the rest of my life. Unless I buy something.’

ABOUT GROWING

‘My grandfather used to say, ‘Don’t mind your money; watch your health.” So one day while I was monitoring my health, someone stole my money. It was my grandfather.’

“I was so self-conscious, every time footballers got confused, I thought they were talking about me.”

ON SEX

Eighty percent of married men cheat in America. The rest are cheating in Europe.’

‘Why do they have Bibles in every motel room? Why would a man want to read the Bible when he is alone with a woman in a motel room? Why would he be interested? Whatever he prays for, he already has it!’

‘You can’t please everyone. Take my girlfriend. I think she is the most remarkable woman in the world. I am, but to my wife. . .!

“I always thought music was more important than sex – then I thought if I don’t hear a concert for a year and a half, I don’t care.”

ON HEALTH

“It’s very difficult these days to stay healthy because everything you eat and drink is bad for you. It’s no longer a matter of staying healthy, it’s a matter of choosing a disease that you like.’

“There was a time when some things were good for you, but now it’s all bad. They found that coffee contains carcinogens – that’s right, it causes cancer. And it also contains caffeine. . . so you don’t just die, you lie awake and watch yourself go.’

“Now they discovered that sugar in your coffee causes diabetes. So you have saccharin, but it gives you cancer. So you have it with milk, but milk is liquid cholesterol. You have three ways to die and you haven’t even eaten yet.’

‘I happen to be a vegetarian – except for the pastrami, brisket and salami. I also run three kilometers a day. I lift weights three times a week and I do 300 sit-ups a day. Yes, you heard right – 300. And if I personally don’t have time for that, I’ll let my assistant do it for me.’

“Every corner in America now has a health food store. And if you look at the people in health food stores, they all have one thing in common. They look sick.’

Born Yacov Moshe Maza in 1928, Mason stormed to fame on the Ed Sullivan Show in the US during the Kennedy era in the early 1960s

Born Yacov Moshe Maza in 1928, Mason stormed to fame on the Ed Sullivan Show in the US during the Kennedy era in the early 1960s

ABOUT BEING JEWISH

‘I filmed, took a picture – Lawrence Of Arabia. Unfortunately it didn’t work out. There was a whole fight between the producer and the Arabs.

You see, the producer wanted to take the picture in the desert, and the Arabs wanted to shoot me before we got to the desert.”

‘Did you know that the Jews invented sushi? That’s right – two Jews bought a restaurant without a kitchen.’

“I was a professional boxer. People find it hard to believe because they have never seen a tough Jew. No one ever accidentally walked into a Jewish neighborhood and was afraid because they thought they would be killed by an accountant.

But I was tough because I was from the Lower East Side. I remember my first fight. I entered the ring and men cheered, women screamed. Yes, I forgot to put on my shorts.’

ON THE NEWSPAPER

“I was in Israel during the Gulf War in 1991, I went because of the missiles. Everyone ran to the shelters all the time. No one paid the check [bill] nine weeks in a restaurant. We were all waiting with the check in our hands – ‘Do you hear the siren? Sprint!”‘

Everyone wants the Israeli Prime Minister to return the West Bank to the Palestinians. He wants to return it, but he can’t, it’s in his wife’s name.’

AND FINALLY

‘I still suffer from the shock of the Second World War. I was almost drafted! Luckily I got hurt while taking the physical.

When I got to the psychiatrist, I said, ‘Give me a gun. I will wipe out the entire German army in five minutes.’ He said, “You’re crazy!” I said, ‘Write it down.”

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