It Happened to Me

“Since Five I Know From Funny!”

My friend Anne works for Aerial Communications, the PR firm behind the Toronto dates of Jackie Mason’s latest stand-up comedy show, Prune Danish. She always gets tickets to any show promoted by her company and invited me along to see this one.

Mason comes from the great tradition of the comedians of the Borscht Belt, a vacation spot in the Catskills that became a popular destination for Jews starting in the 1950s. The hotels and resorts in the area hired Jewish entertainers to match their clientele, a lot of whom were stand-up comics. From the Belt came the great comic staples of observational humour (think Jerry Seinfeld and even Cory Doctorow) and aren’t-WASPs-funny jokes (think BET) that we take for granted today.

(I was probably the only Asian in the audience. Most of the audience looked as though they came from North York, which means their only encounters with Filipinos are usually with their housekeepers and nannies. I wondered if they thought I had the night off. “Did you press my shirts and get the kids’ lunches made already?”)

Mason put on a good show, starting with his traditional jabs at audience members in the front row and then going straight for the observational humour. While there’s nothing terribly ground-breaking in his material — the standard items from the news and ethnic jokes (there were moments he really sounded like Krusty the Clown, but then again, Krusty’s probably modeled after him, right down to the bit where he quit being a rabbi to go into comedy and making fun of foreign accents) — he still got a laugh out of the audience, who ages ran the gamut from university students to seniors.

I really liked the bit where he said that “only Gentiles think they have to sit in the airplane seat assigned to them”; it’s funny because it’s true.

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