Jackie Mason calls himself "The Ultimate Jew."
Whether or not that's true, there's no doubt he is proud of his Jewish heritage.
He's also rather fond of his comedic touch, which Niagara Frontier Publications discovered when posing questions to the 76-year-old star of stage and screen.
Nowadays, Mason is best known as the voice of Rabbi Hyman Krustofski (Krusty the Clown's father) on "The Simpsons." But the Sheboygan, Wis., native has made a career out of his satirical observations on life and politics. He'll share those musings when he takes the stage Friday at Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel in Niagara Falls.
Mason was at home in Manhattan last week when "Super Storm" Sandy struck. He spoke of that and of his life as a comic in an email to NFP.
NFP: Jackie, can you put into words what the past week has been like for you?
Jackie Mason: I was sitting in my apartment, writing jokes about the weather conditions and the election when the elevator man rang the door to tell us to evacuate. That's the first time I even realized there was a crane that might crash into my building.
Then the lunacy started. A Jewish couple being told to evacuate in eight minutes with no warning is not an easy task. When we go to Florida for the winter my wife packs eight months in advance. Now we have to leave in eight minutes! A Jew can't even go to the bathroom in eight minutes. Do you realize how long it takes Jews to pack up all their pills?
The pills took two suitcases, alone. Then there was the bottled water and food, which my wife and I started arguing about. She said don't take anything fattening and I kept grabbing the cookies. Then there was the decision about which clothes to take and how many sweaters and coats I had to wear. Then we had to find a Gentile to carry the entire luggage to where we were going to stay.
When we finally got down to the lobby, you could tell immediately who were the Jews and who were not. The Jews were mobbed with hundreds of pieces of luggage and the Gentiles had an umbrella and a backpack or a little duffle bag. ...
Then the next four days I spent on the phone with my lawyers figuring out who I'm going to sue for all this. If not for the crane, I would have never even known there was a storm where I live.
NFP: How does a comedian put something like Hurricane Sandy into perspective, and can you use elements of the storm in your act?
Jackie Mason: When you are a genius like me you can put anything in perspective, but I don't like to talk about myself - it's not my nature. Sure, they're always some elements of any news event that can be lampooned and joked about. The only thing not to joke about is tragedy and death.
NFP: Speaking of your act, what can we expect from you this weekend?
Jackie Mason: My motto has always been "if it's in the news, it's in the show." Fresh and topical material has allowed me to have a long and successful career. And I'm not going to tell you any jokes from my show because I don't work for these prices. However, I do have a great Niagara Falls routine.
NFP: What continues to inspire you to do perform live?
Jackie Mason: Cash.
NFP: Is there anything that compares to the feeling of being on stage and making people laugh?
Jackie Mason: Absolutely not. It's really the most gratifying experience someone can experience, especially for an egomaniac like me
NFP: We loved "Caddyshack II" (no, really), and we thought your performance was great (Mason played the affable, country club-crashing Jack Hartounian). Why doesn't that film get any loving?
Jackie Mason: Who says that? The royalty checks I keep getting every month don't say that. Even though the picture didn't do well at the theaters, it's one of the most played on TV. At any time during the week it always on TV somewhere. Plus I have young kids still coming up to me who say they saw that movie and loved it. So it keeps getting me younger fans. Who knew?
Jackie Mason performs Friday, Nov. 9, at 8 p.m., inside the Seneca Niagara Events Center (Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel). Tickets start at $45 and are available at the casino and via Ticketmaster.