by Kidman J. Williams
Jackie Mason has died on July 24th 2021 at the great age of 93 . I was lucky enough to have not only met Jackie, I got to sit and break bread with the legendary comedian who was able to keep the borscht belt comedy style alive throughout his career when many had dropped it.
Jackie was not only a great entertainer, but he was a generous man with a heart of gold.
Before I get to my story, I feel like many of you need to understand his star status. Many only knew him from the bomb-tastic abortion that was Caddyshack II. This was not Jackie Mason’s career! Not only did he have a legendary career as a befuddled comedic genius along with his Broadway one-man hit show, but he had several movies and television show credits (The Jerk 1979, History of the World: Part I, and from 1991 – 2019 he voiced Rabbi Hyman Krustofski on The Simpsons) under his belt.
Mason came from a long line of Rabbis, but that was not his calling. He once told the New York Times, “My humor – it’s a man in a conversation, pointing things out to you.”
That was very much my experience when I met Mr. Mason in 2005.
At the time I was still fronting the metal band, Call to the Wise. We were doing a lot of shows and recording. This night, we were recording our album and the guitarist and myself decided to go get a late-night bite at the Denny’s in Spring Hill, Florida.
We ordered our normal food at the diner bar. It was awfully late, like I said, I heard the door open and a thick Yiddish accent. This was peculiar for Spring Hill.
I looked over my shoulder and there he was with his driver/assistant. It was Jackie Mason. I looked over at Dan and told him. He looked over at Mason and back again at me and said, “Who is that?”
I was in disbelief! “You don’t know who Jackie Mason is? He is a legendary comedian.”
“What would I know him from?”
I started to ramble off all his movies and then I got to Caddyshack II. He looked at me with a sickly look, “Caddyshack II sucked bro!”
“Trust me when I say, that was the worst thing he ever did man.”
I knew I needed to talk to the man. I just did not know what to say. This was a legend! Plus, I was scared to talk to a comedian. If you say the wrong thing to a comedian, you could very well end up the joke of the evening.
I stood up and walked over to the table. I felt like I had something profound to open with. Something that would make him remember me. All I could get out was a fanboy question, “Are you Jackie Mason?”
I felt disgusted with myself.
Jackie looked up and without missing a beat said, “I sure hope so.”
I kind of chuckled for a moment and told him that I was a big fan. Then I asked him, “What are you doing in Spring Hill of all places?”
“I had a show tonight.”
All of the sudden it came out of my mouth, “From Broadway to the swamp of the living dead.”
He chuckled a bit, “That was pretty funny. You’re a funny kid. Why don’t you sit down with us.”
Nervously I said, “Thank you, Mr. Mason.”
We sat down and talked for about an hour together. He was telling me stories about the business and some of the people he met through the years. I found myself hanging on every word that this man had to say. He was engaging and such a sweet soul.
When they were getting ready to go, Jackie’s driver said, “Do you want me to help you to the car?”
I found that puzzling. So I asked, “Why do you need help?”
Jackie said, “I don’t see so well anymore.”
I didn’t realize it. He hid it pretty well. Jackie asked me to help him to the door and the car while the driver went to pull it closer to the door.
He went out and I first helped him to the register. The driver pulled up to the doors and Jackie grabbed my forearm. I walked him to the car and he stopped and said, “If you are half as good a singer as you are a comedian you are going to go places kid.”
He got into the vehicle and they left.
I felt a warm feeling inside my stomach after he left. You know when you have been in the presence of greatness. You can feel it. Not only was Jackie Mason a legend of comedy, he was an inviting man that really cared about people.
That is what I will always remember.
Rest in Peace you are and always will be “The Ultimate Jew.”