Jackie Mason: Freshly Squeezed
(Jackie Mason Website)
The Helen Hayes Theatre
240 West 44th Street
Jyll Rosenfeld, Jon Stoll, and James Scibelli
Jackie Mason, Star, Writer, Director
Lighting Design: Paul Miller
Sound Design: Peter Hylenski
General Press: Larry Weinberg
Marketing: Keith Hurd
Advertising: Echo Advertising
General Management: Theatre Production Group
Production Stage Manager: Don Myers
Company Manager: G. Eric Muratalla
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 29, 2005
Jackie Mason is back, all alone, and this year he’s funnier than ever with an R rated show about sex, low carb-counting, cheesecake, hotel room service, polygamy, political inarticulation, and the front row audience, as usual. Some things don’t change, and those unlucky enough to be seated in the front row (or are they volunteers?) are the targets of humor (homosexuality, stupidity, senility, ugliness, you get the point). But, with Jackie Mason onstage, in a sparkling new set of starry lights on black screens and no extraneous actors/singers/dancers to crank up the vaudeville, the audience laughs on and off cue. In fact, the sound of natural laughter, on a week of endlessly grim news, was refreshing. There was another refreshing sound tonight, that of apologies and humility, yes, humility, as Mason sought general forgiveness for racial or ethnic slurs in past shows.
And, soon after, Mason did his Indian shtick, this time about his doctor and the “pleasant” prostate exams. Mason’s humor targets a middle class, middle age, mostly Jewish audience. However, tonight I noticed a mixed crowd, for a change, and everyone seemed well entertained. When Mason told Bush jokes (“The English language is not his field”), I was surprised, because he’s come across as quite right wing in recent years. Mason’s Kerry jokes were mostly aimed at Teresa Kerry and were blunt as can be. Lieberman seemed to be his new ideal. Another target, the Atkins Diet, seemed a bit overdone, with low carb-counting and steak obsessions and potato phobias as steady subjects of his monologue.
Sex, sex enhancement pills, men’s sex drives, and women’s sex boredom were showcased topics. And, with last year’s actors singing obscenities in French, this year Mason just insulted the French for never winning a war, except the French Revolution (“when they fought against each other”). There were few of the Italian/Polish/Jewish/African American/Latino barbs, and this year’s Mason seemed to actually walk on eggshells not to offend. His body language was similar, with fewer of the Jewish Cantorial chants in Hebrew, except at the end, when he seemed to exhale in a comfort zone. The intermission bathroom/prostate jokes were still there, but as asides, not so forced, and very adorable, in fact.
Adorable is an operative word, as Mason seemed to show his new low-key, near political correctness, with a charming, campy, pantomime effect. Even his hair looked good. I recommend Jackie Mason, Freshly Squeezed as an antidote to grim news and cold, windy nights. It’s good to laugh at ourselves and our foibles, both now and when he was unrestrained. There’s still an edge, but not so sharp (unless you’re Teresa Heinz Kerry). Jackie Mason is just fun to be around.
Photo courtesy of Bill Milne