Jackie Mason was born in Sheboygan, Wisconsin and raised on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.He grew up surrounded by rabbis. His three brothers are rabbis. His father was a rabbi, and so were his grandfather, his great-grandfather and his great-great grandfather! It comes to no surprise that Mason was a cantor until the age of 25 when he was ordained a rabbi. Three years later, he quit his synagogue to become a comedian because, as he says, "Someone in the family had to make a living."
Mr. Mason's first one-man Broadway show, The World According To Me, played to sell-out, standing-room only crowds for two years and was a phenomenal success on its American and European tours. The show earned Mason a special Tony Award for Outstanding Theatrical Achievement in 1989 as well as his first Outer Critics Circle Award, Ace Award, Emmy Award and Grammy nomination.
His next show, Jackie Mason: Politically Incorrect, completed a two-year, standing room only run at the Golden Theatre, then toured for two years around America and Europe.
This was followed by Jackie Mason Brand New, which completed a one-year, standing room only run at the Neil Simon Theatre for which Mr. Mason was awarded a second Outer Critics Circle Award and was nominated for Ace and Grammy Awards.
Following that, Mr. Mason appeared for an unprecedented fourth run on Broadway in Love Thy Neighbor, which opened at the Booth Theatre to rave reviews. In fact, all four of his shows were successful, box office, standing room only hits- an unparalleled achievement!
Mr. Mason won a Emmy and an Ace Award for the HBO special of his show, "Jackie Mason on Broadway" and received Grammy nominations for both of the comedy albums based on his Broadway shows.
And now, with the same skill that Mason has used in the past to examine the problems of personal relations, cultural differences, political and social issues that concern the people of America and the world, Much Ado About Everything again brings Mr. Mason's unique and incisively humorous perspective to the Broadway stage. Jackie was nominated for the prestigious Olivier award in England for his new Broadway show, Much Ado About Everything, which after a successful run at the golden theater in New York is now touring the United States. Unafraid to tackle any subject no matter how controversial, in this new show, Mr. Mason examines everything from sexual harassment to racism to the White House.
Mason has received critical acclaim for all four of his Broadway shows from scores of publications such as The New York Times, Time, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, the Associated Press and by every TV network. "Seeing Jackie Mason in person is Broadway's biggest bargain! In Love Thy Neighbor, he's at his superlative best" said the New York Post's Clive Barnes; "Roaringly funny! A welcome occasion. The wellsprings of Mr. Mason's comedy come from the bile ducts and the spleen, as he harpoons belly laughs in stormy sociological seas. Poking fun and pointing irreverent fingers, Jackie Mason ranks among the all-stars," said the New York Times' Lawrence Van Gelder; and said Associated Press reporter Michael Kuchwara, "Jackie Mason is at the top of his form. The show is very, very funny!"
Mason made his return to American television with "Crossing The Line" an hour long national talk show on PBS. Mason, along with co-host Raoul Felder, left no stone unturned, as they asked questions and investigated topics that other shows would not dare consider- bringing out the best from Felder's legal expertise to Mason's unmatchable sense of humor. Mason first teamed up with Felder to co-host a BBC Radio show, "The Mason-Felder Report", which aired three days a week on BBC Radio in England.
Jackie Mason has often been asked to demonstrate his outstanding speaking abilities and consequently, has lectured in Israel, Britain, New York, and Washington DC. Well known for his strong political stances, Mason has also frequently been asked to join the political arena.
In November 1991, Mr. Mason traveled to London, England for a Royal Variety performance for Queen Elizabeth II. (This was Jackie's second Command Performance- the first being in 1989 for the Queen Mother). In 1995, Jackie was invited to speak at Parliament on American politics. He was the first nonpolitical person invited to do so. In October 1996, Jackie was invited back to England for an unprecedented third Command Performance- this time for Prince Charles. While in England, Mr. Mason was also honored with an honorary degree from the Oxford University Debating Society. It is an honor that has bestowed on only three individuals throughout history: Ghandi, the late John F. Kennedy and former President Jimmy Carter.
During the Persian Gulf crisis, he closed his Broadway show to fly to Israel as a show of support for the troops and people of Israel. Then Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu honored him with an award for "Bravery, Commitment and Valor to the State of Israel." It is the highest honor that the Israeli government can bestow upon an individual.
In April 1993, Jackie Mason was invited to tour South Africa by the African National Congress. While there, Jackie met and was briefed by Nelson Mandela on "how culture must be used as an instrument to transform our society" and was asked by Mandela to encourage other performing artists to return to South Africa.
In September of 1990, the academic world bowed to Mason as prestigious Oxford University established the "Jackie Mason Lectureship in Contemporary Judaic and Hebraic Studies" for Postgraduate study. More recently, in 1995, Mason was awarded with an honorary degree of "Fellow in the Humanities" of Yarnton College at the University of Oxford.
Beyond theatre and broadcasting, Mr. Mason is a published author. In September 1997, Avon Books released The Jackie Mason, Raoul Felder Survival Guide to New York. This is their second book together. In 1996, Dove Books released Jackie Mason and Raoul Felder's Guide to New York and Los Angeles Restaurants, a humorous and witty take on dining out in our nation's two largest cities. Guides are also being planned for Chicago, Washington, and Florida. The authors also contribute a monthly political column in the American Spectator and a bi-monthly column in the magazine's internet edition. Jackie Mason and Raoul Felder co-author an op-ed column for The Washington Times that is featured on the 4th Friday every month.
Adding to his extensive accomplishments, Jackie Mason became a political commentator with his own nationally syndicated radio talk show in late 1997. The show can be heard in over 85 markets around the country. In August of 1998, Jackie started hosting a national radio show in Great Britain, as well.
Mason has been referred to as the Jewish Will Rogers. Neil Simon, Steve Allen, Carl Reiner, George Burns, Bob Hope, Johnny Carson, Art Buchwald and Larry Gelbart (the creator of TV's "M*A*S*H" who has seen The World According To Me 31 Times!) are among the many who have sung Jackie's praises, returning to see him again and again to confirm and agree that he is the funnyman of the nineties. His uncompromising views have also led him to be called an "equal opportunity offender" by some, but no one can deny Jackie's dedication to finding the truth at the heart of an issue and, however painful it may be, presenting it in a way that inspires laughter and understanding.