After a High Holiday hiatus, Jackie Mason, star of "Freshly Squeezed – One Jew Talking," coming to the Keswick Theatre on Oct. 26, is back on his high horse trampling through the tzuris and travesties of everyday life.
Think of his appearance as a one-man gallop poll as the Borscht Belt-bred comic beats a path to punchlines faster than most comics who don't know a nag from a kvetch.
"Hello, hello, hello," says Mason in that sonorous sing-song voice that gives away his cantorial and rabbinic training.
"So … it's you again," he says with mock disgust of our annual get-together. "What, you don't know enough about me already?"
One knows that to get the best out of Jackie it's best to just let him go – think of him as an unsaddled Jewish stallion chomping at the bit.
And his bit is biting: After many Broadway shows – and a popular Comcast network series airing in Philadelphia as well as elsewhere – he's as witty as ever. As Mason preps for his Keswick gig, he takes a look at the world scene and suggests it take more vitamins.
He's feeling his oats: "Bush … Bush … He should only get a job that's more suitable for him. Obviously, the one he's got is not the best profession for him."
And what is President Bush better suited to fill? "He should sit down and play chess, any board game, where he has to keep busy so he doesn't look at what he can do to the world." A better fit for his cowboy boots? Hilary? It's as if a reporter's just stepped in it: "Hilary … she's no bargain either. Of course, every Jew who's a Democrat loves her or her husband."
Mason loves New York, but not the Clintons. On the other hand, he's had a thing or two for New York kingpin Rudy Giuliani in the past. Would America's mayor also be a good American president?
"Well, I don't think he was such a wonderful mayor, but then after 9/11, everybody liked him. President? Compared to the others, he would be good. His heart's in the right place."
Place your bets on Mason for office?
"Never, I would never run for political office. It's such a filthy, vile, horrible game. You find yourself mired in conflict, deceit, lies and then the press wants to know what did you do to your father, why weren't you nice to that waitress yesterday, when did you make love to your sister and who was that woman you were with … no, not for me."
For him, the comedy of onstage life. But since he's been on the big screen, too, maybe he'd feel comfortable in a larger-than-life role? Producers were, after all, looking for the next James Bond. Is it true he passed on the role so that Daniel Craig wouldn't have to worry?
"To tell you the truth, I don't look perfect for the role," he reasons. "I don't think Pierce Brosnan was saying, 'Do you think they'll get Jackie Mason to replace me?' And, if someone says I should replace him, they're probably saying it from a sanitarium in Philadelphia, not someplace where they'd trust you with a knife and fork."
Speak with forked tongue? Well, Mason's is pronged with punchlines. Not that the smooth comedian would be a hard-sell as a klutzy cop. As a matter of fact … "I'm about to do a movie, to play a detective, like a Jewish Peter Sellers," he says seriously of what may be more Lion of Judah than Pink Panther.
Always on the prowl for a laugh, Mason jars on stage – off, not so much. "I tell my jokes and go home. The crimes I commit … they're none of your business," he kibitzes. But he makes it his business to wish one a happy New Year, feasting on one-liners after a fast for the holiday. Jewish New Year resolutions?
"I wish that people like me help people like you make a better living," he says. "Because to tell you the truth, it's obvious you're not doing so good."