Jackie Mason with Emerson College

Comedian


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his one-hour interview for the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College, Jackie Mason talks about where his comedy comes from, and the process of building his act. He describes his start as a Catskill comedian, where he created his persona, and his first television appearance, on The Steve Allen Show. He details the infamous incident where Ed Sullivan believed he’d held up his middle finger, resulting in him being off television for many years. Mason describes the business aspect of show business, and the role of agents and managers in his career. He recounts his career trajectory, including his resurgence in the 1980s with the Broadway show “Jackie Mason: The World According to Me.” Bill Dana and Jenni Matz conducted the interview on April 7, 2005 in New York, NY.

“After the Ed Sullivan incident, my career leveled off, it wasn’t that bad. Everybody who was pitying me was making $40 a week was saying, ‘I'm sorry, geez I feel so bad what happened to ya.’ This guy can't afford to take a bus. I'm flying first class and he's pitying me. He can't afford a hotel, I've been living in the best hotels with $5,000 per week. Everybody was pitying me. It was like the downfall.”

Interviewee(s)
Highlights
Jackie Mason on his infamous middle finger incident on The Ed Sullivan Show
Jackie Mason on using the crowd in his act, and on his relationship with his audience
Jackie Mason on the trajectory of his career
Jackie Mason on developing his on-stage persona, and on his beginnings as a comedian
Jackie Mason on performing live, and on the process of building his act
Jackie Mason on Ed Sullivan being wrong about comedy
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On performing live, and on the process of building his act; on where his comedy comes from; on using comedy as a way to impart knowledge or help people
On comedy and humor as a survival tool; on developing his on-stage persona, and on his beginnings as a comedian; on appearing on The Steve Allen Show
On his infamous middle finger incident on The Ed Sullivan Show; on Ed Sullivan being wrong about comedy
On being careful not to offend or hurt people with his act; on using the crowd in his act, and on his relationship with his audience; on dealing with the business aspect of show business
On the trajectory of his career; on answering the question "Was it worth it?"; on the importance of timing
Shows

Ed Sullivan Show, The aka Toast of the Town

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Jackie Mason on his infamous middle finger incident on The Ed Sullivan Show
Jackie Mason on Ed Sullivan being wrong about comedy

Steve Allen Show, The (1956-61)

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Jackie Mason on appearing on The Steve Allen Show
Topics

Bloopers

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Jackie Mason on his infamous middle finger incident on The Ed Sullivan Show
Professions

Comedian

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Jackie Mason on performing live, and on the process of building his act
Jackie Mason on where his comedy comes from
Jackie Mason on using comedy as a way to impart knowledge or help people
Jackie Mason on developing his on-stage persona, and on his beginnings as a comedian
Jackie Mason on being careful not to offend or hurt people with his act
Jackie Mason on using the crowd in his act, and on his relationship with his audience
Jackie Mason on dealing with the business aspect of show business
Jackie Mason on the trajectory of his career
Jackie Mason on the importance of timing

Performers

View Profession
Jackie Mason on performing live, and on the process of building his act
Jackie Mason on where his comedy comes from
Jackie Mason on using comedy as a way to impart knowledge or help people
Jackie Mason on developing his on-stage persona, and on his beginnings as a comedian
Jackie Mason on being careful not to offend or hurt people with his act
Jackie Mason on using the crowd in his act, and on his relationship with his audience
Jackie Mason on dealing with the business aspect of show business
Jackie Mason on the trajectory of his career
Jackie Mason on the importance of timing
Genres

Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials

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Jackie Mason on his infamous middle finger incident on The Ed Sullivan Show

Talk Shows

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Jackie Mason on appearing on The Steve Allen Show
People

Steve Allen

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Jackie Mason on appearing on The Steve Allen Show

Ed Sullivan

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Jackie Mason on his infamous middle finger incident on The Ed Sullivan Show
Jackie Mason on Ed Sullivan being wrong about comedy

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