Stand-up Gags on Broadway
JACKIE MASON: BRAND NEW One-man show written and performed by Jackie Mason. Executive producer: Jyll Rosenfeld. At the Neil Simon Theatre. AT first sight, the brand newest thing about ``Jackie Mason: Brand New'' is the glossy JMTV studio set. Designer Neil Pater Jampolis has adorned the stage with conference table and chairs, overhead lights, and multiple monitors flashing pictures of everything from simians to celebrities - all to the sound of taped music. Will the compact Tony winner (for ``The World According to Me'') be able to compete with all this high-tech paraphernalia? Not to worry. From the moment Mr. Mason makes his first entrance, he dominates the stage and delights the customers.
``It's a pleasure to see me in person,'' he announces matter-of-factly, an opinion shared by the admiring audience at the Neil Simon Theatre. The ``brand new'' of the material turns out to be typical Masonian handling of familiar subjects. His comments on public figures are typical. Of prosecutor Rudolph Giuliani ``Guilty or not, you're in jail.'' Jesse Jackson ``never goes any place without a disaster.'' And every Jewish kid is called ``Tiffany Schwartz. The only people left with Jewish names are black people like Whoopi Goldberg.''
Mr. Mason is endlessly informative on the subject of Jews and gentiles. For instance, ``Every gentile wants to be a Frenchman. Every Jew wants to be a gentile.'' Apart from ethnic matters, he ranges the field in the best stand-up comic tradition, taking well-aimed pot shots at a large cast of notables. When Gorbachev came to Bush for a loan, the President replied: ``See my son.''
The formidable funnyman is as much an authority on crime in the streets as on Donald Trump, William Buckley (a notable takeoff), TV news anchors past and present, the Middle East, the North, the South, and points in between. He can be equally astringent about New York City luxury housing or haute cuisine. He discourses on ``comparative culture.'' For many of his jokes, of course, you really had to be there. Which is not a bad idea.
Jackie Mason, the physical comedian, also deserves more than passing mention. Granted that he has mastered more miscellaneous information than Gilbert's Major-General Stanley.
He could also give John Cleese's Ministry of Silly Walks a few pointers on perambulation. For a final touch near the end of the entertainment, the onetime cantor kicks up his heels in a Jackie Mason two-step and raises his robust baritone in what a management representative called ``cantorial chanting.'' It's among the pluses of ``Jackie Mason: Brand New.'' When he finally takes a seat in one of the two well-upholstered easy chairs on the set, he has earned the relaxation.