Jackie Mason

One Night With Jackie Mason The after-hours clubs that were tucked away in the hidden alleys and basements of Philadelphia’s Center City in 1964 resembled the Speakeasy era. Jackie Mason and I had hit about a dozen or so of them and were heading back to the Jersey side of the river on our way to a much-needed breakfast. It had been a long night. My club date had gone well and, at Jackie’s invitation, I had caught his second show at the Latin Casino in Camden where he was appearing with Eddie Fisher. At the time, the Latin was the largest free-standing nightclub in America with an audience capacity of some 2,200 and every seat had been filled. Jackie was in fine form that night and Eddie...well, it must have been his stoned period, as he blew lyrics all over the place and his sense of time was non-existent. On the other hand, it didn’t seem to matter much. The crowd adored him and as long as he could make it through “Oh, My Papa”, all was forgiven. After the show Jackie introduced us. He seemed like a nice enough guy but I doubt he’ll ever remember the encounter. As Jackie and I traversed the labyrinth of the Philly club scene I marveled at the seemingly endless parade of his avid fans who materialized from the darkness. If he didn’t sign over 500 autographs he didn’t sign one. I mean the guy was hot! I imagine that hanging out with Elvis would have been similar, proving the old adage, ” Any publicity is good publicity”. For those of you who don’t recall, Jackie had been propelled into the national spotlight as a result of his infamous “finger” episode on the Ed Sullivan show. The impact on the public was phenomenal. I never saw anyone cause that much excitement by just showing up. I, however, was quickly beginning to feel like the Invisible Man. O.K., so the guy was a hit; what am I, chopped liver? The Golden Steer in Cherry Hill was jammed and, in the company of a star or not, we had to wait our turn behind the velvet rope to be seated. We were both hungry, a little spacey, and becoming impatient when a loud joyous shriek cut through the late-night cacophony...The charging form of a water buffalo morphed into an old Jewish lady who screeched to a halt scant millimeters before the velvet-rope barricade. She shoved her meaty bejeweled finger at my face and literally screamed, ”Oh, my God! It’s Ari Dane! I saw him in the Catskills, by the Pines!!!” Jackie took this in, smiled, and said with his trademark accent, ”Lady, he’s been waiting for you all night!”

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