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Jackie Mason shticks it to prez, press, Palin bashers and evildoers
Politically incorrect comic unlikely ever to host annual ‘nerd senior prom’ of White House Correspondents’ Association
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.’
‘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?’
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Ben Birnbaum is a reporter covering foreign affairs for The Washington Times. Prior to joining The Times, Birnbaum worked as a reporter-researcher at the New Republic. A Boston-area native, he graduated magna cum laude from Cornell University with a degree in government and psychology. He won multiple collegiate journalism awards for his articles and columns in the Cornell Daily Sun.
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