Personnel: Jackie Mason (spoken vocals).
While the borscht belt nightclub circuit may be a thing of the past, Jackie Mason is still around and upholding its noble traditions as America's last great old-school Jewish comic, and 1987's The World According to Me captured the man as he was making a triumphant comeback in a successful one-man show on Broadway. Mason is a comedian who has raised kvetching to the level of an art form, and on The World According to Me he delivers an hour of solid spiel on American Jewish culture and its sometimes uncomfortable relationship with the Gentile majority. A routine called "Jews and Gentiles" covers nearly half the album's running time, and his bits on life in California and the curious state of global politics nudge the same themes now and again (as Mason points out, a Jew in Beverly Hills who can't afford a Mercedes-Benz, rather than admit he's short on cash, will say "You expect me to drive a German car? Those Nazi bastards!"). While Mason's bits on the foibles of Jews and Gentiles are often pointed, he manages to pull away from becoming genuinely offensive, though his material on Hispanics and African-Americans is decidedly less charitable (such as Mason saying he goes to Puerto Rico every year to visit his hubcaps, or discussing his friend who is half Puerto Rican and half Jewish -- if he can't buy something wholesale, he steals it). While Mason's broad Jewish-American accent and rapid-fire singsong delivery border on caricature at times, when he's on a roll he's a master monologist, and the reaction of his audience on this album testifies to his rapport with his listeners -- while Mason apparently doesn't much worry about what people think of his opinions, he takes care to express them with an estimable comic energy, and The World According to Me preserves him at the top of his form. Though how he'd fare in front of an audience of Latinos is another issue entirely. ~ Mark Deming