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Laughing Gasbag

A burst of inspired vulgarity, Jackie Mason's new show takes aim at Jews, non-Jews, anti-Jews, and everyone in between.


Laugh back in anger: Jackie Mason's fifth act.  

Jackie Mason is one of our funnier comics. Not so funny as Dame Edna (who is?), but still damned funny. He has expert timing, perfectly judged emphasis, minimal fuss (nothing much by way of scenery, costumes, supporting performers), and hilarious material. His range is omnivorous: Politics, culture, race, religion, restaurants, cabbies, performers (he is a devastating impersonator), the Messiah, God, the audience (well-chosen patsies), etc. are grist for his fast-grinding mill. Even so, Much Ado About Everything, his current show, is not quite about everything. But it comes commendably close.

True, some of the targets, such as turbaned taxi-demons, Mason has skewered before, but the jokes and delivery are good enough to bear repetition. Everything about Mason has bounce -- his movements, delivery, even his ogles -- but he can also summon up silences of utmost consternation and looks of shocked despair. He is politically incorrect, and glories in it with ecstatic gloat. Mason's humor should prove irresistible to at least two, admittedly overlapping, groups: anti-Semites and Jews. Jackie gets astonishing mileage out of cannily contrasting Jewish and goyish ways. Though the butt of the jokes are mostly the former, enough spills over onto the latter.

Nobody is spared, including blacks and Hispanics, so that Jewish theatergoers will feel assimilated in this ecumenical contumely. Moreover, the jabs, though sharp, do not aim at the jugular, as witness the names of Jewish legal counsel -- one of them a co-producer -- among the program credits.


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