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Book Reviews

A Brief Tour of Schmuckdom
By Bernard Chapin
May 23, 2007 - 12:47:12 PM

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ISBN: 0061126128
Title:  Schmucks!: Our Favorite Fakes, Frauds, Lowlifes, Liars, the Armed and Dangerous, and Good Guys Gone Bad
Authors: Jackie Mason and Raoul Felder

It's not everyday that you get to speak to a legend, but that's what happened to me last month when I found myself interviewing Jackie Mason. He was my uncle's favorite comedian and I'd seen him on television numerous times so I was pleasantly surprised to hear his voice on the other end of the receiver. Although not included in my piece, the funniest parts of our exchange were due to my failing to recognize the rhetorical nature of his aside, "Is this understood?" I kept breaking in with "Yes, sir." Hopefully, he got a kick out of that, but there's no need to wonder what readers will think about his new book, Schmucks!: Our Favorite Fakes, Frauds, Lowlifes, Liars, the Armed and Dangerous, and Good Guys Gone Bad, as it's got all the laughs that audiences have come to expect from him.

With the help of co-author, Raoul Felder, Jackie Mason has put together a mostly lighthearted series of vignettes illustrating the schmuckery of 62 persons who have done much to advance the cause of human misery. As one might expect, the principal offenders are mostly found on the left side of the political spectrum and include self-righteous nebbishes like Hillary Clinton, Cindy Sheehan, and Ramsey Clark along with entities like the ACLU, The New York Times, and Jews for Jesus. The entries are brief enough to ensure the attention and pleasure of the average reader.

Mason's not the only famous comedian to lend his skills to political commentary. In recent years, cutups like Dennis Miller and Larry Miller have written articles well-regarded by conservatives, and this is far from a fledgling venture on Mason's part as he has penned numerous columns with Felder for The American Spectator in the past.

Here, in Schmucks!, the wordplay is occasionally as clever as Mason's stand-up bits. In fact, many of his fans of will recognize some of the material as emanating from his act. The shtick about restaurant critics, Cajon food, and Sushi appears in these pages as does his famous spiel about reform Jews. There is no question that all the comedic one-liners, such as, "you tell your boss who is so dumb he received a refund from a mind reader," give the book added oomph. Material like that is seldom found in conservative best sellers and more than a couple of times I found myself laughing out loud.

Perhaps the best turn of phrase involved Al Sharpton, whom they dubbed "the longest, unsustained, unsponsored carnival in America." Halleluiah! Almost as good was their take on the Hilton Sisters, "You can't spell hotel without 'ho,'"and their treatment of the NCAA's ban on "hostile" team nicknames was classic. They point out that none of the team names are truly offensive at all, but if they want to find some that are Mason and Felder are only too happy to oblige them as "Rampaging Wops, Big Heebs, or the Fighting Colored Folk" are exactly the type of nicknames that PC bureaucrats deserve.

There's more here than just guffaws though. It's good to see that at least somebody somewhere remembers the media's false sense of outrage over Rick Lazio. During his 2000 debate with Hillary Clinton the former Congressman walked over and asked her to sign a pledge concerning campaign finance reform. She refused to do so, but a wholly vanilla situation got turned into "the Rape of Sabine Women" by legions of Hillaryophile journalists.

It seems that our country has now confused being placed into an unscripted moment with full frontal oppression. Not in every society does an all-powerful, conquering superwoman insist on being treated like Our Lady of Fatima. If we really want to enhance the marketplace of ideas, we should convince the junior Senator from New York to go toe-to-toe with Mr. Mason in a debate. The venue for that battle would sell out faster than tickets to a Yankees-Mets World Series. Alas, it will never be as Hillary, nor practically any other politician, possesses a sense of humor let alone the ability to ever laugh in their own direction.


Bernard Chapin is a writer living in Chicago. He is the author of Escape from Gangsta Island, and is currently at work on a book concerning women. He can be contacted at


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