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Jackie Mason Freshly Squeezed

Not nearly as cohesive as his previous shows, "Jackie Mason Freshly Squeezed" often disintegrates into extended, meandering lectures on same-sex marriage, the medical profession, religion, politics and his favorite target ... Jews. The prerequisite Yiddish-tinged one-liners, which are quite often hilarious, tend to come in rapid-fire spurts, as if he were pulling them out from a far recess of his memory banks.

Not nearly as cohesive as his previous shows, “Jackie Mason Freshly Squeezed” often disintegrates into extended, meandering lectures on same-sex marriage, the medical profession, religion, politics and his favorite target … Jews. The prerequisite Yiddish-tinged one-liners, which are quite often hilarious, tend to come in rapid-fire spurts, as if he were pulling them out from a far recess of his memory banks.

Mason opens the evening with a Hebrew prayer song, quickly reminding the audience that he is a former rabbi — a pulpit patriarch for nearly three years. His material is a combination of biased but often cogent contemporary observations, sprinkled with some tried-and-true laugh-getters from several of his six previous Broadway shows. Throughout his two-hour perf, Mason utilizes this chanting devise as a segueing tool. It also serves as a safe harbor: Whenever a routine goes awry, he chants.

Much like a Vegas comic, Mason enjoys bantering with those seated in the first two rows of the theater, often pinpointing one person for a bit of Gentile/gay-bashing. He performs an extended riff on homosexuality and same-sex marriage, but his criticism of government meddling in the affairs of consenting adults quickly runs out of comedic steam.

Mason also turns his jaundiced perspective on the medical profession, observing that in his hometown, New York City, he believed all Jews were studying to be doctors and all Indians (Middle Eastern) drove cabs. But whenever he goes to the hospital, he discovers, “All the patients are Jews and all the doctors are from India.” He then offers a riotous imitation of a thickly accented Indian physician attempting to explain to a patient the nature of his illness.

No matter what the subject matter, Mason underscores the routine with his ongoing love/hate relationship with American Jewish culture. From his point of view, “Gentiles enjoy everything; Jews are not impressed with anything.” He is particularly fond at poking holes through the “foibles, pretensions and contradictions” of his “chosen people,” but he concentrates mostly on his peers, an older Yiddishkeit generation.

If this show is to have legs for its announced March Broadway preem, he needs to put more emphasis on developing a meaningful throughline to what is being billed as “all-new material” and stop relying so much on his old joke trunk or his suspect skills as a cantor.

Jackie Mason Freshly Squeezed

Wilshire Theater; 1,200 seats; $100 top

Production: Broadway/L.A. presents a one-man concert in two acts, conceived, written and directed by Jackie Mason.

Crew: Lights and sound, Mason. Opened and reviewed, Dec. 8, 2004; runs through Dec. 12. Running time: 2 HOURS

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