Me and Jackie

August 5, 2021 by  
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I only met Jackie Mason once.

Jackie Mason

I was hanging out with my American Jewish Comedian buddy, Bruce Smirnoff (not Yaacov), at the Beverly Wiltshire Hotel in 1993, when the Rabbi walked in.

Bruce knew him from the Friars Club, a hangout reserved for only Jewish entertainers.

Jackie Mason was a tiny fellow with bright red-dyed wavy hair and six layers of face makeup.

Bruce introduced me to him describing me as Australia’s biggest comedian.

Mason could’ve cared less.

Friendly and self-obsessed like all of us in this game. He chatted with us for a few minutes and that was that.

Many Jews from all over the planet approached him while we talked asking if he could sign this or that. He was charming to everyone.

The Chabad Shul in Beverly Hills that I belonged to while living there in the 1990s was like most Chabad shtiebls full of mostly young Bal Teshuvniks. There I met this guy called Brooks Arthur (not the name he was Bar Mitzvah’d with) who produced Jackie Mason’s gigantic album “The World According to Me”.

This album ignited his re-ascendancy to prominence after years spent in the wilderness for giving Ed Sullivan the finger.

Austen Tayshus

I loved Jackie Mason for his chutzpah, his pride in being Jewish, his controversial take on the Gentile world without any apologies, his staccato Yiddish-sounding delivery and his spontaneity. He knew about Yiddishkeit and he made you laugh so hard at our behaviour as well as the antics of the Goyim. Jewish assimilation in America which is tragic in so many ways was a favourite topic and you would just be unable to contain yourself. He was a genuinely funny guy. And that is very rare.

My father who was from Łódź and spoke all the time of Dzigan and Schumacher, who were the favourite Jewish comedians in Eastern Europe between the wars and I think Jackie Mason could have been their support act.

It is the end of an era. Only Mel Brooks is still alive And still hilarious at 95. I will miss the Rabbi, Boruch Dayan Emes.

Austen Tayshus

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