It's funny, I love your country

By Jackie Mason, March 9, 2012
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I happen to love Britain. I only wish I knew exactly where it was, because I would have come here more often. But I'll be honest with you, Britain is my favourite place to perform, and I've appeared all over the world. It's a fact. I was even asked to perform in Gaza for the Palestinians, who happen to love me. They can't get over me. They actually offered me a half a million dollars for one show. Plus funeral expenses.

The truth is, there's much to admire about your small country, but it can be summed up in one simple phrase: "It's not France". That's not fair; it's too easy to criticise the French for being lazy and arrogant and to say that they wouldn't exist if not for Britain and America saving them in the Second World War and that they planted trees so the Germans could march in the shade - it's too easy, so I won't. It's not in my nature to be rude.

But when it comes to Britain, we in America all know that your country is our greatest friend and ally ‑ everyone knows this, we have a Special Relationship. That means that whenever there is a crisis or a disaster or a hurricane or someone needs to be attacked, or arrested or invaded, our two governments get together and after a long discussion, your Prime Minister does exactly what the President tells him to do. That's democracy, that's friendship, and that happens to be the truth.

There are so many other remarkable things here but one thing stands out. Everyone in Britain is so polite. A man could get run over by a truck and immediately he would apologise - first to the driver; "I hope your truck is OK", then to the paramedic; "I hope I didn't disturb your lunch", then to the other drivers; "Please excuse me, I'll be out of your way in a minute".

Why is it that the British are so polite?

In America it's just the opposite. A man gets hit by a truck, he could be bleeding with three minutes to live, but he won't call a doctor. Instead he'll call his lawyer. Americans are always suing. They don't need a reason, the first question they ask after any disaster is: "Who can I sue?".

But why is it that the British are so polite? Even when your politicians are cursing each other in Parliament, and saying the most obnoxious things to each other - things that in America would get you arrested and sent to Guantanamo Bay for 150 years - even then, they're so polite: "My Honourable Friend… is a schmuck." "The Honourable Gentleman…should drop dead." "The Noble Lord…is a putz." And everyone says "He's right" and then they carry on. Do you understand this?

And everywhere I go people tell me about the Olympics. I want to ask you something, why is everyone so happy to have the Olympic Games? People say: "Oh, it's the prestige, it brings such prestige". London has to be one of the world's most famous cities, do you mean to tell me it needs more prestige? There's about seven people on the whole planet who haven't heard of London, and they live in a swamp in Brazil.

Meanwhile they're digging up the roads, they're building a swimming pool the size of Finland, the whole thing is costing £900 million and you still can't get a seat. Every Jew I know applied for 300 seats for the tennis, the swimming, the running, the jumping. Six months later they got one ticket for an event nobody had ever heard of - Underwater Clapping or Synchronised Archery or Sumo Rodeo. Do what I do, watch the Games on TV in your living room, which has less prestige but at least you get a seat.

And with that advice, I want to say goodbye and thank you to the JC for letting me express myself so freely. I'm very grateful - in fact, I really have a lot more to say, but for these prices this is all you are going to get.

Jackie Mason's farewell show "Fearless" will be at Wyndham's Theatre till 17 March 2012. Tel. 0844 482 5120 or www.delfontmackintosh.co.uk"

    Last updated: 11:06am, March 9 2012