Comedian Jackie Mason, who bills himself as “the ultimate Jew,” gave an e-mail interview to The Big Lipowsky ahead of his performance tomorrow night at BergenPAC in Englewood. Mason, who began his career as a rabbi in North Carolina and Pennsylvania before creating his now-famous style of comedy in the Catskills. He’s been in movies, TV shows, and now has a weekly political radio show.
Here now, for your entertainment, is “The Ultimate Jew.”
What led you to go from being a congregational rabbi to a comedian?
J.M.: I became a comedian because my sermons were so funny that more Gentiles than Jews were in the temple when I held services. Infact it got so crowded w/Gentiles that some of the Jews couldn’t get in. I know this sounds like a joke but it true. I always felt that to make a point you need to use humor otherwise people get bored because they feel like they are in a classroom.
How has American Judaism changed since your rabbinical days?
J.M.: Judaism hasn’t changed, Jews have. Today they name their kids Tiffany, Biffy, and Macadamia.
Why do you call yourself the ultimate Jew?
J.M.: What should I call myself, The Ultimate Goy? But i love that title because I’m a vocally proud Jew.
Many see you a controversial figure, why do you think that is?
J.M.: They think I’m controversial, because they are ashamed of my Jewishness or they are so liberal that they are ashamed of my politics. In other words they are nuts, and i say this with the highest respect. In response to them I say, it’s a free country (so far) so I can say whatever I want and they don’t have to listen to it.
How do you keep your material fresh?
J.M.: All my comedy is relevant , if it’s in the news it’s in the show. My pride is to always do new material. I try to stay as current as possible. I love doing political humor but that’s only about 1/3 of my show. My act is always very varied.
How has comedy changed since you began your career?
J.M.: No difference, the rooms are just smaller
Do you have any advice for aspiring comedians?
J.M.: Make sure you have a solid 20 minutes before you go on and build from there.