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Jackie Mason


He's too Jewish!

That's what Jackie Mason says the Jews say about him and his brand of humor. And the Gentiles who understand his schtick say, "Jackie, Oy, you're simply the best!" Everyone loves Jackie Mason!

Mason is appearing in his one man show in Las Vegas at the Sahara Hotel and Casino prior to his fifth return to Broadway. In previous years, titles like The World According To Me and Love Thy Neighbor were on the boards. His next show on Broadway will be called Back To Burlesque, a salute to the off-color baggy pants comics of yesteryear. His shows on Broadway are always fun and he has the distinction of being the only standup comic to have won a Tony Award.

He's been in the business for over 30 years and many may remember the feud he had with Ed Sullivan years ago when Sullivan cut him off during a performance claiming that Jackie threw the finger at him. That incident pretty much blackballed him from performing, outside of the Borscht Belt. Yet, Jackie, the survivor, survived it all, including long gone Sullivan. For those of us attuned to the comedic skills of the great comedians of yesteryear, everyone knew, or at least I did, that Jackie would be back. Why? Well, because, he is simply a genius at comedy, plain and simple. There are only two comics in the past decades that I can think of that even came close to him, Myron Cohen and Victor Borge.

It's been said many times that comedy is serious business, and it is very true. To deliver a line, a joke, or to tell a story takes perfect execution and exact timing and this is where Mason excels. No one does it like he does. True, much of it is flavored with Jewish humor, but in my book, Jewish and Irish humor are the best anyway. Jackie sets his jokes up perfectly with total seriousness and then wham, you've just been hit in the funnybone.

His show is never the same, as he works without a script. His script is the daily newspapers of which he reads six a day plus some magazines. His "act" is a commentary on the world and absolutely nothing is sacred, not even Starbucks. He skewers President Clinton just like he skewered Nixon with his riotous commentary; this time about Monica, and Jessica and all those other women. From the $3.50 cup of coffee at Starbucks to gays in the military Jackie nails them all, but, he's never offensive or vulgar, just downright funny.

Many comics hang around comedy clubs, like the Improv, watching other comics to hone their own acts. I really don't know if you can learn comedy but if there were a school for it, it would be called the University of Jackie Mason. Catch him and get a Master's Degree.

Jackie is performing in Las Vegas until April 11, and then you can catch him out in Westbury at the Music Fair on May 7th and 8th. We'll keep you posted on Jackie's return to Broadway!

Tidbits: The Phantom of the Opera opens today in Chicago at the Civic Opera House for a three month run until June 13th. If you're heading to the windy city, call (312) 902-1500 to see Ron Bohmer as the Phantom and Marie Danvers as Christine.

Birthday greetings today, March 22, to both Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber. And both have shows destined for the Great White Way... Webber's Whistle Down the Wind and Sondheim's Wise Guys are destined for the 1999 season.

Liz Smith, in her syndicated column, reports that Kander and Ebb are very pleased with the revival of Cabaret especially with Natasha Richardson's singing. Head over to http://www.newsday.com/mainnews/lizsmith.htm for more of what Liz has to say about Cabaret.

Michael Jackson in a Broadway Musical? That's the latest rumor about the Australian production of Sisterella which he co-produced. The musical is a twist on the Cinderella story featuring an all black cast. Don't worry about the acting as it's mostly song and dance. The show is scheduled for Broadway next spring.

The Michael Crawford Fan Association is to be commended for their involvement with PBS fundraising. Many volunteers across the country manned the phones during pledge drives making Michael's concert a huge success raising record amounts of money, so much so that many local channels are airing it again in prime time slots. Tickets for his May 23rd concert at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas went on sale yesterday. Better hurry, though, I think the arena only seats 14,000. Call Ticketmaster now.

Liam Neeson stars as Oscar Wilde in The Judas Kiss which opens for a limited run at the Broadhurst Theater beginning April 23rd. Much anticipated, however, the West End reviews were none too kind.

Rebecca Luker has garnered great reviews as Maria in the revival of The Sound of Music. And for those of you who think it's too sweet, Vincent Canby in the New York Times says, "A skillful revival with no excess sugar on top."

Lil Abner opens for a limited run as part of the Encore series from March 26 to 29. Tickets are very scarce, but you may be able to get a single at the box office. In the cast are Alice Side Show Ripley and Lea On The Town DeLaria... two very good reason to see Lil Abner.

Chess Off-Broadway? Robert Evan, Alice Ripley, Brian d'Arcy James, and Christianne Noll are set to perform in a benefit concert on May 10 and 17 at the John Houseman Theater (450 West 42nd Street) in New York City. More information soon...

Last week to see The Capeman. The musical closes on March 28th and the final performance is sold out. We'll have someone at the cast party with a report for you next week.

Grease is still the word! The 20th Anniversary film starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John is digitally re-mastered and starts this Friday in theaters across the country.

And speaking of film, will Titanic break all records tomorrow evening at the Academy Awards? Let's hope so, as it will only keep that other ship on Broadway sailing on and on.


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