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San Francisco by Richard Connema

Jackie Mason Brings His Special Brand Of Humor To San Francisco

Also see Richard's review of On Golden Pond

The irascible Jackie Mason recently brought his one man show Prune Danish into the Curran Theatre for a limited run of 12 performances. Mr. Mason is a comic that you either love or hate. I must admit that I have never been a big fan of this person and I have never seen any of this past five two hour shows. I have always found about ten minutes of his comedy was enough for me. That is not to say that Jackie Mason is not a funny man, because he most certainly is a talented caricaturist. He has strong opinions on everything and he is not afraid to share them. His delivery has a certain comic rhythm about it, and much of his appeal comes from the Yiddish-American inflection and body language. The words gush from his mouth during his monologue, which runs a little over two hours with one long intermission.

Jackie Mason takes on blacks, Jews, gentiles, Mexicans, Middle Easterners and gays. He has opinions on all of these groups. The comic says he doesn’t like ethnic jokes: “That’s in poor taste. But I knew you were low enough to laugh,” he says after the audience laughs.

On opening night, the show started out on a completely wrong note with Jackie arguing with members of the audience about the theatre's sound system. He lost his cool several times during the five minute banter. When he finally gets into his act, the opening salvo is about politics. He zaps both left and right, both Israelis and Palestinians. Jackie says that every time he sees Prime Minister Ariel Sharon move his lips, nothing comes out. As for Yasser Arafat, he calls him “a big thief” and says “have you ever seen that towel he wears on his head, look closely it says Hilton.” There are many jokes about the new War on Terrorism and the United States Army trying to find Osama Bin Laden. Jackie says “after this entire hunt, we know Bin Laden has left Afghanistan either by train, plane, or bus. We know he is in a different country. He might be anywhere. He could be masquerading as a Rabbi in Philadelphia.” Jackie takes on George W. Bush and says, “he is a nice guy but he has this look on his face of 'how the hell did I get into the White House?'” and “he’s brilliant, unless you ask him a question.” Clinton comes in for his due about his glad handed ways of meeting people and famous sexual escapades. Even Carter gets a zap when Jackie says “He did nothing as President but he sure is good with a hammer and nails,” based on Carter's project of building homes for the low income people.

Mason takes on ethnic differences between Jews and gentiles, the rich who own Mercedes and poor who own Chevys, the gambling casinos of Atlantic City, the food in trendy restaurants and especially a long hilarious dissertation on Starbucks where coffee in a cardboard cup cost $2.50 and there's no place to sit down.

The gays are zapped also. Jackie said “here I am in the gay capital of the world so I better watch my step about talking about gays.” The comic cannot see why gays cannot be in the military. “What are they afraid of, don’t the heterosexual soldiers have enough confidence in their male sexuality? If a gay soldier asks a straight military man out for the night, the hetero can say 'I am busy' or 'I have a headache.'”

Broadway gets its share of attacks as Jackie talks about the “filth and vulgarity” of Broadway with shows like The Vagina Monologues, The Puppetry of the Penis and Urinetown. He blasts Riverdance by saying that for one solid hour you watch dancers doing just one step and the next hour they turn either right or left and do the same step again. The comic gets his licks in on the musical Titanic when he says how could anyone write a musical where everyone sings and dances while 3,000 people drown?

Jackie does have some great lines about the popularity of Japanese and Cajun food. (“Did you know that the Jews invented sushi? Two Jews bought a restaurant with no kitchen” and “My mother used to burn fish all the time, we just threw it out, now its Cajun food.”)

Clive Barnes of the New York Post says it best: “Jackie Mason is a Jewish leprechaun.” His style is vintage Catskills comic - he is more curmudgeonly than in his early days, but he is the king of Jewish insult humor.

Jackie Mason: Prune Danish ran through December 15 at the Curran Theatre, 445 Geary, San Francisco, Ca.


Cheers - and be sure to Check the lineup of great shows this season in the San Francisco area


- Richard Connema



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