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Jackie Mason (1928–2021), legendary stand-up comedian

by Linnea Crowther

Jackie Mason was a legendary stand-up comedian known for his outrageous ethnic-based humor.

Borscht belt comedy

Mason was ordained as a rabbi, just like his father, before beginning to do comedy sets at the resorts in the Catskills during the summers. After his father’s death, Mason devoted himself to comedy full time, struggling for years before a 1960 appearance on “The Steve Allen Show” gave him his big break. Mason became known for his Jewish humor, based on amazed and annoyed observations of the world around him. His career was at its height in the early 1960s before slumping later in the decade. He came back in the 1980s and later with movie and TV appearances including “History of the World: Part 1,” “The Jerk,” and as Krusty the Clown’s father on “The Simpsons.” His humor didn’t always fit in the modern world; Mason invited controversy in recent years when he used Yiddish ethnic slurs.

Notable quote

“My humor — it’s a man in a conversation, pointing things out to you. He’s not better than you, he’s just another guy. I see life with love — I’m your brother up there — but if I see you make a fool out of yourself, I owe it to you to point that out to you.” —from a 1988 interview with the New York Times


Tributes to Jackie Mason

Full obituary: The New York Times

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