Jackie Mason: Fearless

Affection and blushes as Jackie says farewell


By John Nathan, March 1, 2012
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Wyndhams Theatre, London WC2

Mason's un-PC humour at times strikes the wrong note

Mason's un-PC humour at times strikes the wrong note

To the Jews watching his final farewell show in Britain, Jackie Mason is family.

He may be embarrassing family, the kind of relative you would not want your gentile friend to meet (for, in his view, gentiles are only good for fixing Jew-unfriendly objects such as carburettors), but he is still family.

And much loved when brilliantly defining every human being on the planet by one criterion - their Jewishness or their non-Jewishness. A non-Jew, for instance, could spend the night on a pavement and get a solid night's sleep. Jews "could be in a seven-million dollar condominium" and would still complain they did not get a wink of sleep.

Fans of the 75-year-old Vegas, Catskills, Broadway and Borscht-Belt veteran will have heard much, if not most of this material before. But then they come not just for the gags but for the deadpan delivery, the nano-second timing and that broad Brooklyn brogue they know so well.

They also know that Mason turns every stage he performs on into a PC-free zone. But political incorrectness only works when what is said out loud by one fearless person (Fearless being the name of Mason's show) is everyone else's secret thought. And when Mason wheels out his creaky old gags about stupid Irish people - well, does anyone really think that the Irish are stupid these days, let alone think it is funny?

A few idiots laughed. I know, I should lighten up. Mason's a legend after all, a master of the form. And I am sure we all are very happy to laugh along with Irish comedians who make gags about miserly Jews. Aren't we?

Although the audience was at least half-Jewish, there were moments when it appeared they knew him a lot better than he knew them. There was a gag about taxes and Harry Redknapp, followed by a quip about how Redknapp's team never wins anything. Yet there was no recognition that there were probably more Jewish Spurs supporters sitting in the stalls that night than in the Wyndhams' entire 100-year history.

It would have been good for this valedictory set to have had some biographical material - there must be millions of brilliant stories. Instead of which Mason generally sticks to what Mason does best - a series of riffs on the theme of how we pay for posh stuff that we do not like because we think it makes us look good. And when he does that, there is still probably no better stand-up in the world.

    Last updated: 11:54am, March 1 2012