Jackie Mason

An abridged version of a recent Jackie Mason interview....

JCN: What do you think of the Internet?

JACKIE MASON: Obviously this is a big hit. Everybody is talking about it. I don't know the first thing about it. I'm like every other old Jew who hears about it but doesn't know what it represents. Everybody under forty-seven is talking about it. Anybody over fifty doesn't know what you are talking about.

JCN: Why do you think that is?

JACKIE MASON: It's like a whole new toy. They're too backward to get involved in. Now when a new chatchkc like this comes out, youngsters start becoming familiar with a whole new thing.

JCN: What is your most dramatic holiday memory?

JACKIE MASON: My father and family was so religious that I felt like a person who lost his rights and was living in a dictatorship. They move you and turn you in any direction they please. And you have to go there whether you like it or not. I felt more like a prisoner than a worshipper when I was in shul. My father wouldn't allow me to stop davening all day long. A lot of people were taking recesses, walks and sunshine. I had to sit there and keep reading. I felt more confined and imprisoned than any Jew since we got out of Egypt!

JCN: If you could, how would you change the Ten Commandments?

JACKIE MASON: I would leave out anything to do with adultery.

JCN: What do you think about New York Jews?

JACKIE MASON: I think about them in many, varied ways, just like I think about whites or blacks, Gentiles or Polish people. There is no one type of New York City Jew. Certain generalities might be true. Like their preoccupation with restaurants and food. Italians might have some of it. But no one has this lust about restaurants -- a kind of a Jewish sex drive. Show a Jew a cookie, it's like showing a Gentile a naked woman. They don't just eat a cookie. They devour it. They discuss it. They research it. They become detectives about it. They have to discuss where is a better chopped liver. Jews could be preoccupied with this for hours. Somebody else could declare war with less trepidation and uncertainty than a Jew picking a restaurant. Which is the best one, and how to find it, and how much they charge, and what is the main dish compared to the other ones. This one is good, but I don't like their appetizer. This one has a good chopped liver, but I don't like their soup. You watch Jews selecting a restaurant, it's like a family that's choosing a bride.

JCN: We hear your recorded voice in taxis reminding us to buckle up. What is your take on taxis?

JACKIE MASON: Taxis in New York have a bad reputation for reasons that don't make sense. People talk about taxi drivers being inconsiderate, pushy, arrogant. I find that most of this is not true. The only problem I have with taxi drivers is that they usually don't know where they are going. They come from India or Pakistan. They are very nice people but they take a job they know nothing about. It's like just because I'm a nice guy I became a doctor. Shouldn't I find out something about medicine first? You go into any taxi and say, "I'd like to go to thirty-fourth street and Eighth Avenue." And they mumble for thirty minutes, "Kokitee, kokitee." I say, "Do you know the city." They all say, "Sure." I found out -- the city they know is Calcutta.

JCN: You talk about construction and contractors in your new book.

JACKIE MASON: I joke in my act about how Jews can't do anything with tools. A Gentile's house is like a workshop. You can hear it thirty miles away. You'll hear buzzsaws binging and hacking. Everything is busy in a Gentile's house. They don't sit still for a second. A Gentile is not happy unless he is banging something with a hammer or clipping something off with a chotchke or a saw. There are four thousand versions of a screwdriver in a Gentile's house. Ask a Jew if he has a screwdriver. "I have a screwdriver? I thought you had the screwdriver." Anti-semitism is nothing compared to two Jews looking for a screwdriver.

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