Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Can anyone crack the mystery that is Mr. Lou Mason?

We have collected so many comedy albums over the past couple of years that at times, it has felt as if they were the only kind that Jews ever recorded... from Rodney Dangerfield's quintessential Shlemiel, The Loser, to the "Bawdy women of Jewish comedy," Belle Barth, Pearl Williams, Totie Fields, and Rusty "Knockers Up" Warren, not to mention the Yinglish maestro, Mickey Katz, and the Jewish jazz tones of Lenny Bruce. Time Magazine, that veritable newssource, had a 1970 lead article dedicated to exploring why "nearly 80% of the top comedians in the country are Jewish." They focussed on the work of clinical pyschologist Samuel Janus who studied 76 different Jewish comics concluding that a life spent in poverty and despair was the crucial step on the road to entertainment success. "What makes them funny, says Janus, is their pain." You don't say... But even we were stumped by this album which has just come in... by Lou Mason, the self-styled "Master of Lafter." His tailored velvet jacket says superstar, but we had never heard of him and can't find a trace of him on the internet. Our first thought was the obvious one -- that he was Jackie Mason's brother. The Dan Swayze to the more famous Patrick, if you will. But we have found no evidence of that, and frankly he looks too self-condifident for that to possibly be. Listen to his sweet repartee. This is his "take my wife, please" bit, which he calls Wives Stories. If any of you can shed light on this mystery, we would be indebted. Please be in touch...

21 comments:

Lis Riba said...

Checking newspaper archives, I've found several mentions of him in the Hartford Courant, mostly regarding events where he's performing (all Jewish organizations).

The earliest article I found was from 1949, the most recent from 1973.

An Oct 18, 1957 article describes him as "a well-known Jewish humorist" and "Lou Mason of New York, known as a master story teller and entertainer."

A March 9, 1967 article calls him "Jewish humorist of stage, radio and television ... Mr. Mason has become recognized as being a one-man show and is well known for his wit and humor which stems from the comedy of everyday life."

None of the articles mention Jackie Mason (or much biographical info at all).
I've also seen a few references to a Lou Mason involved in the American Symphony Orchestra League, but that may be another man by the same name.

Leah said...

Please forgive me-- I'm changing the subject, and I couldn't figure out another way to reach you. I just wanted to know if you already have a recording c. 1935 of the Inwood Hadassah performing Der Shirtz-- which is Gilbert and Sullivan's HMS Pinaforein Yiddish, sung, of course, by an all-female cast. I inherited the 78s from my aunt, who had seen the performance live and told me that the Ruler of the Queen's Navy was played by someone who was about fifty, five feet tall, and built like Mae West.

I haven't listened to it in a long time; I do remember Buttercup is Putterschissel.

If you're interested, you can let me know by posting a comment here-- I'll check in a couple of days.

sconstant said...

http://books.google.com/books?q="lou+mason"+jewish

shows he's listed in a 100-or-so person list in the intro to The Big Book Of Jewish Humor, published 1981. Of course, I don't recognize a lot of the other people either.

Apparently the album is half routine, half singing. How's the other half?

http://projectsx.dartmouth.edu/djsa/action.lasso?-database=djsa.fp5&-layout=data&-response=search/results.html&AlbumCollection%20title=Lou%20Mason&-sortfield=AlbumCollection%20title&-sortfield=Track%20title&-search

Anonymous said...

he was a member of my synogogue. Married and had two daughters, lived in Hollis Hills, N.Y. He performed in the catskills mts. He was always able to tell a great joke. He had a very sweet voice and would sometime take jobs for High Holidays and Passover. He died approx. ten years ago or more.

And You Shall Know Us By The Train of Our Vinyl said...

leah... please email us at trailofourvinyl AT gmail.com we would love to speak to you!!!

Corey Breier said...

I worked with Lou Mason in the 1970's at the Lebowitz Pine View Hotel in Fallsburg ,NY..He was one of the funniest comedians of the Borsht Belt style..i loved his routine..and he was such a nice,fun guy off stage too...he was also a great singer and cantor..i remember that he worked at Arele's Kosher Night Club in Flushing performing many weddings..His wife Lorraine is a member of my organization...May G-d bless the memory of this great talent who brought so much laughter to thousands..

Corey Breier, President
Yiddish Artists & Friends-Actors Club
CIB41@aol.com

mortsegal said...

Lou worked for my dad (Jack Segal) who booked many of the catskill resorts. He is well remembered by many vacationers for his Jewish style story telling vs the typical comic with the one liners.

Anonymous said...

I have a lou mason Lp Album Signed by lou mason its called if its lafter you are after listen to lou mason and i need to know how much it is worth it was back in the 60's

kamagra said...

I received a complimentary copy of this book in order to review it and let me tell you that I am WILD for Joel Goldman and Lou Mason! I would have never found Mr. Goldman, and I have fast become a fan. This book started quickly, grabbing the reader's attention, and never stops. The characters are full-fleshed and made me want to spend time with them, especially Lou and Mickey.

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Warren Schein said...

I knew Lou. His daughter and I went to school together. He was a wonderful entertainer. Many times we would go to see see him perform. He was always so funny, great comic timing and what a beautiful voice he had.

Larry Farkas said...

My father booked Lou to perform at my and my brother's bar-mitzvahs at The Fountainhead in New Rochelle in 1964 and 1965. Still have the old reel-to-reel tapes....he was great!

Paul Anisman said...

He acted as master of ceremonies for evening entertainment at Singers Hotel in Soring Valley, NY in the early 60s. My family would to spend summers there. His daughter, Marcy, went to day camp with me there.

Anonymous said...

Just found a copy of the album at a thrift shop in Baltimore. It's still sealed but Lou took off the corner of the plastic in the back and signed it, and stuck his mailing address sticker on it. 19-10 Parsons Blvd., Whitestone, NY 11357 That might help with further research :)

Parabolan online said...

My Grand Father always listened it and its stays in my ears when a came to his House ... Nice artist - nice times - nice artickle - Thx for remember Him.

Anonymous said...

He was my uncle and his real name is Louis Mashioff, who my daughter is named after. He was a cantor from New York, too. He was known for his beautiful voice, humor, and wit. Lou comes from a family of 8 children- 5 brothers and 2 sisters- my father was the last and the youngest that passed at 98 years young.
Now you all know a little more of the history of this great family.