599 South Collier Boulevard, Unit 218, Marco
Capt. Brien’s Off The Hook Comedy Club has done it again bringing in the best of the best performers. From Feb. 1 through Feb. 9 with various time schedules, Jackie Mason, one of the hottest comics in America in the early 1960s, will be doing pre-Broadway performances.
It should be an interesting and funny show because Mason is well known for his long passion about politics and his tough and outspoken position on a variety of issues.
With elections coming up, I can hardly wait to hear what he has to say. Having seen him on Broadway in his one-man show “The World According to Me,” it’s one I’ll never forget and can honestly say I laughed so hard it was difficult to contain myself.
Is he still that funny? Well, my telephone interview was absolutely hysterical. I had personal comedy entertainment.
“I’m running rehearsing wherever I go. Wherever I see a building I stop there. Ask anything you like,” Mason said.
He lives in New York. As a child, Mason was religious but became less religious slowly after he became an adult.
“Even though I became less religious then, I still believed. The idea of religion stripped me of the Orthodox Jew I once was,” he continued.
Becoming an ordained rabbi at the age of 24, he carried on family tradition. His father, grandfather, great-grandfather, great-great grandfather and his three brothers were all rabbis. However, a few years after he became a rabbi, Mason decided he quit his job in a synagogue because, as he put it, “Somebody in the family had to make a living.”
His first gig was in Pennsylvania and a year later, in North Carolina.
“I didn’t tell my family I was becoming a comedian. I had too much respect for my father. I didn’t have the heart to tell him I didn’t want to be a rabbi, so I pretended to be religious while I was going here and there. I did it surreptitiously so not to hurt his feelings,” Mason commented.
“I’ve been a comedian 37 years. I had a couple of lucky breaks that brought me into television exposure. I was playing in a comedy club in Beverly Hills where all the major celebrities came to hang out. Not just to see me. They featured comedians before the comedy club era started. After 20 years or so, there was a huge amount of comedy clubs all over the country,” Mason went on to say.
Steve Allen had a prime time show on Sundays. Mason was seen performing at a comedy club. After his performance, Allen’s people told him about Mason. He was booked the very next day for an audition. According to Mason, before he told a joke or two, Steve Allen said, “Oh, this guy is funny” and hired him immediately. His salary went up from $300 a week to $5,000 for one show.
He reached the top of American entertainment culture when he became a regular performer on the nation’s television variety program, “The Ed Sullivan Show.” If you made it to that show, you became a hit.
However, during a live telecast of the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, Mason allegedly gave Sullivan the finger. His contract of $45,000 was immediately terminated. Mason denied the obscene gesture, saying he flashed numerous
fingers and that the gesture he made was misinterpreted.
After Mason left the stage, the TV camera cut to Sullivan. He apparently looked agitated
with his arms folded tightly as he stared down at the stage.
Mason filed a libel lawsuit against Sullivan. About 18 months later, he reappeared on Sullivan’s show and Sullivan publicly apologized. Mason dropped the lawsuit. But that was his last appearance on the show and also ended Mason’s career for 20 years.
When asked how long he was in the business before the Ed Sullivan fiasco, he jokingly said, “About an hour-and-a-half. It was a very short time. As fast as I had a meteoric lucky rise, it ended after that. Sullivan’s voice put a crimp of my rise to major stardom. His voice at the time was like the laws of a virgin.”
It was in Los Angeles where Mason first emerged from that shadow. 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 and his extraordinary success as a one-man show. I remember it so well.
In December 1986, “The World According to Me” ran for two-and-a-half years on Broadway. He received great reviews and earned himself a Tony Award, an Outer Critics Circle Award, an Ace Award, an Emmy Award and a Grammy nomination. Jackie Mason was back!
After successfully touring Europe for two years, in 1990 he returned to Broadway with “Jackie Mason: Brand New”. In 1991, Jackie closed his show on Broadway during the Persian Gulf crisis and traveled to Israel in a show of solidarity. He was later honored by former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Once again on Broadway, in 1994 he opened with “Jackie Mason: Politically Incorrect” which was later changed to “Jackie Mason: Politically Correct” because of a conflict with a television show. In 1996 he did “Love Thy Neighbor”; in 1999, “Much Ado about Everything”; and in 2002 he did “Prune Danish.”
His success was non-stop and he had a number of nominations and awards including an Emmy and Ace award for his HBO special, “Jackie Mason on Broadway” and his latest show “Freshly Squeezed” in 2005.
Never having been to Marco Island before, he had some comments to make.
“I heard it’s a luxury island where all the fancy families go. I was told it has a beautiful leisurely atmosphere where they do elegant tributes. I’ll have a lot of political comedy to do at the Comedy Club on Marco. I don’t care if 11 people show up. It gives me a chance to try my material,” he continued. “I try to keep up with the latest developments so that when I get on Broadway, everything is relevant in terms of news of people on the scene.”
Mason asked me how Off The Hook Comedy Club gets all the celebrities. I explained it was a difficult process and takes time and scheduling, and that various comedians perform, many from the Improv. I also told him that word has spread nationally about Marco Island and Mason agreed that he had also heard of Marco before he was booked.
Mason had been invited once before to perform at the Comedy Club, but couldn’t perform the dates offered. After hearing so many good things about Marco and the Comedy Club, his office actually called the Off the Hook Comedy Club to book Mason which is finally going to happen.
“I’m not like the old time Jewish comedians who tell the same jokes. When you come to Broadway, you have to have a whole new show because the critics are ready to destroy your career. It’s a lot of hard work,” he continued. “Not only that. When people come to see me, I’m very flattered. I tape all my shows. If I tell a joke somebody has heard before, they look at me like I’m a thief and what right do I have to take their money when they heard the joke before and then they’re ready to sue.”
He not only does stand-up, but acting as well and has been in several films and television shows. “Caddyshack II” gave him a new, younger following, and the television sitcom “Chicken Soup” made him realize that he’s only happy when performing his own material.
In 2005, Mason hosted a national live call-in show on the Comcast network which aired every Friday from 8 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. EST. The show received three Telly Awards and was nominated for an Emmy. He also hosted the weekly PBS talk television series “Crossing The Line” and the BBC radio show “The Mason-Felder Report.”
Jackie currently hosts a nationally syndicated radio show on The Talk Radio Network, which airs Sunday nights from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. EST. covering politics, news and current affairs. Jackie said he interviews many of the most influential people. He stated his guests are from opposite sides of the political arena to keep it fair.
He also has a weekly syndicated radio talk show on Sundays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. where you can call him and speak to him live.
And now, Jackie is conquering a new media outlet. You guessed it — the internet. It’s a combination of current events some of which are humorous and others not so humorous, but more like cantakerous. His blog on YouTube proves that television, movies and stand-up isn’t enough for him. He’s always had his own style and it works for him. But you can also see his video commentaries on NewsMax.com. or his video blog called “The Ultimate Jew” on his website at www.jackiemason.com.
Did you know he is also a writer and has written several books and columns? With his long-time friend Raoul Lionel Felder, they wrote “Schmucks! Our Favorite Fakes, Frauds, Lowlifes, Liars, the Armed and Dangerous, and Good Guys Gone Bad.” “Schmucks 2” will be coming out this spring.
Mason also writes bi-monthly columns with Felder for the internet edition of The American Spectator, as well as jewishworldreview.com and World Net Daily.
If you think his accent is fake, think again.
“I’m not maintaining my accent,” he said to me. “I’m not performing for you. This is the way I talk.”
And where was he going after Marco Island?
“I have no idea where I’m going. Wherever they tell me,” Mason said. “I have record breaking performances for the Royal Family. I’m too Jewish for New York, and somehow just
English enough for the queen. I go back every year for a royal performance.”
Mason will be performing his eighth and last one-man show on Broadway called Jackie Mason: The Ultimate Jew. The limited engagement begins March 18 at New World Stages/Stage 3 Tuesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. with matinees Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. Special Wednesday matinees will be at 2 p.m. on March 26, April 9 and April 23 in the event you happen to be in New York during that time.
Mason’s closing words to me were, “Thank you. I appreciate the thought of you doing a story on me. This is better than an ad that I pay thousands of dollars for. I can’t complain. Okay darling, God bless you.”
Jackie Mason is a comedian who still is somewhat religious, has a great following for close to four decades, is notorious for saying it the way it is, has no qualms about saying what he feels, yet has a beautiful heart.
As a result, some of the honors Jackie Mason has received came from United Kingdom’s Oxford University, South African President Nelson Mandela, and a number of other organizations.
He’s got it all covered. You can see Jackie in action twice every week on his website. New videos are posted every Thursday and Sunday. MP3 downloads are available as well as ipods. Books, CDs, DVDs and cassettes can be ordered through his store. Give it a look-see.
His performances at Capt. Brien’s Off the Hook Comedy Club located in the courtyard at Walk Plaza will be: Friday, Feb. 1 at 8:30 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 2 and Sunday Feb. 3 at 2 p.m. only; Monday, Feb. 4 through Friday, Feb. 8 at 8:30 p.m., and Saturday, Feb. 9 at 2 p.m. only.
For reservations, call 389-6900, visit www.captbriens.com or www.OffTheHookComedy.com.