- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 28, 2011

On Saturday, Seth Meyers will headline Washington’s annual “nerd senior prom” or, as it was known in days gone by, the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner. It’s a tricky assignment for the “Weekend Update” anchor - roasting without ridiculing the president of the United States while sharing a dais with him.

In recent years, the beginnings of a pattern are discernible in the choice of featured entertainers - an alternating rhythm of polarizing controversialist, followed by soothing consensus choice. In 2006, Stephen Colbert stunned his audience of journalists (and electrified his fans online) with unbounded mockery of President George W. Bush - and the White House press corps itself for passive coverage of his administration. Mr. Colbert was followed a year later by Rich Little, an impressionist whose career had peaked decades ago with his Nixon impersonation. In 2009, Wanda Sykes crossed the invisible line where satire shades into tasteless (and unfunny) invective with her polarizing bit about Rush Limbaugh. She was followed last year by the avuncular and ever-popular Jay Leno and his Everyman comic sensibility.

One comic you won’t see headlining the dinner or sharing a dais with President Obama is Jackie Mason, who has been unrelentingly skewering the president with gleeful abandon. Say what you will about Mr. Mason’s humor, there’s no denying he’s an equal-opportunity offender - as he proves again in the interview below, with his uninhibited schtick on everything from “insecure” Jews and coddled terrorists to the state of Arkansas and the, er, Austrian language.

Mr. Mason has been slaying sacred cows for nearly 50 years. An ordained rabbi, he left the pulpit for the comedy circuit at 28, slowly working his way up from the Borscht Belt to Broadway with his trademark blend of politically incorrect, quintessentially Jewish humor. During his heyday, he starred in an episode of “The Simpsons,” providing the voice-over for Rabbi Hyman Krustofski, Krusty the Klown’s estranged father - a role that won him an Emmy award.

At 74, Mr. Mason is hoping to recapture his old magic. In his comic universe - impervious to the cultural inroads of political correctness - anyone can be a punch line. Nobody is off-limits, everyone is fair game. Even Jackie Mason.

“I don’t feel like I’m doing you a favor because I could use all the publicity I can get,” he said at the end of an interview with The Washington Times. “If your name’s not in the papers, people forget about you.”

On President Obama’s oratorical skills: “That’s why he got elected. They couldn’t get over what a great speaker he was. You ever hear of any other profession where they judge a person based on whether he’s a good speaker? … Imagine you tell a friend about your dentist.

‘You’ve got to try this dentist.’

‘Why?’

‘He’s a fantastic speaker.’

‘How is he as a dentist?’

‘I don’t know, but why should I care? He’s a great speaker!’

‘But your teeth keep flying out.’

‘So what? Did you hear what a speaker he is?’

‘You have any teeth left?’

‘I got no teeth, but what a speaker!’

On the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.: “If [Sen. John] McCain did the same thing, if McCain went to a Ku Klux Klan meeting every day for 20 years, do you think he could’ve gotten away with it and run for president? Imagine if he came back from a Klan meeting, where they were cursing black people and cursing Jews, and you asked him about it.

‘You’re running for president?’

‘Yeah.’

‘But we heard you were in the Ku Klux Klan for 20 years.’

‘Just because I was there doesn’t mean I was listening. I knew they talked, but I don’t know about what. I happened to be there! I saw sheets, pillowcases, thought I was in a department store, that they were having a January white sale.’ “

On Sarah Palin: “She told a little joke when she said, ‘I can see Russia from my window,’ but because she said that, she became the biggest idiot in the world. Now, Barack Obama has said a million stupid things, and everybody says, ‘Look, how cute, how a genius could make a funny mistake like that.’ Remember when he was in Austria and he apologized because he didn’t speak Austrian? … Or when he thought there were 57 states. Or when he was talking in Iowa and thought he was next to Pennsylvania. Did you ever see a word of criticism for such stupid remarks? But Sarah Palin says something wrong, that proves she’s a moron. And they say she can’t be president because she was just a governor of a broken-down state like Alaska. How come they never said that about Clinton? What, is Arkansas such an exciting place compared to Alaska? You ever hear someone say, ‘I’ve already seen Paris and London, but you know where I’ve never been? Arkansas.’ “

On “mistreating” terrorists: “How come if a guy steals a cup of coffee from Starbucks and is mistreated, nobody cares? But if he chopped somebody’s head off, you got a lot of nerve to put him in a prison where they found out that the temperature was 64 instead of 68. It was always either too hot or too cold; the chicken was too salty or too tasteless; the cup of tea should have been hotter; the chair could have been softer. There’s always something wrong somewhere, all because we don’t have the decency to treat a guy who chopped your head off with any respect.

“Even if he confesses and says, ‘I want to die,’ we still have too much respect for the fact that he chopped somebody’s head off to allow him to die unless he can prove that he did it. If you confess that you killed somebody, they assume that you’re therefore guilty, and they put you in jail for life. But if a terrorist confesses, they say, ‘We don’t have to take his word for it. After all, he’s a terrorist. We can’t take the word of a terrorist.’ But he says he wants to die. ‘Why should you care what he wants? Do we have to make him happy?’ “

On his co-religionists: “Jews are always insecure and are always struggling with their identity and their accomplishments because a Jew by nature was always left out of the mainstream of the economic system and society in general, so he has to prove that he belongs, and he has to prove that he’s successful, so as soon as a Jew looks at you, he’s already got a complex going on in his head.

“He has to prove to himself that he’s smarter than you, he’s taller than you, he’s better than you, he’s healthier than you, he’s going to live longer than you . … And if he sits down, he sits down straighter than you. And he gets up faster than you. And he can’t get over himself, how perfectly he walks compared to you. By the time you reach the corner, you’ll be passing away, and he’ll still be going a block and a half.”

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