My Secret Life: Jackie Mason, 75, comedian

 

My parents were... fantastic. My father was a rabbi, my mother was a typical Jewish mother who fussed over her children and thought they could do no wrong.

The household I grew up in... was filled with love, warmth, and tenderness. It was also very small – we had one toilet for eight people.

When I was a child I wanted to be... a boxer, which I became. I had 18 fights and quit with the 19th, because it was the first time I saw blood. Someone else's is bad enough, but to see your own – forget it.

If I could change one thing about myself... I wouldn't change anything – I would like to be whatever I am, just 42 years younger.

You wouldn't know it but I am very good at... ballet dancing, which, let's face it, I was born to do. But me and white hosiery – not a match made in heaven.

You may not know it but I'm no good at... rodeo competition. Or sumo wrestling. Neither were made for Jewish people. Although, now I think about it, together they would make one terrific event for London 2012: Sumo Rodeo.

At night I dream of... waking up 10lbs thinner (except if I happen to be in my new Olympic event).

What I see when I look in the mirror...Cary Grant, Clark Gable, George Clooney and a touch of Marilyn Monroe.

It's not fashionable but I like... the idea of travelling by horse and carriage. I noticed your Queen seems to do this a lot, so if it's good enough for Her Majesty...

I drive... Despite what I just said, I never use mass transit – I have had the same driver for 20 years.

My house is... my sanctuary and my comfort zone. It is magnificently furnished – if you like newspapers and tapes all over the floor for decoration.

My favourite work of art... is by Fernando Botero, because his paintings prove that you can eat like a horse and still be an artistic masterpiece.

A book that changed me... The Talmud. When I read it, I fully understood the lives chosen by my father, grandfather, great-grandfather and their forefathers.

My greatest regret... That I don't have more hair.

My secret crush... Shirley Temple. Now, I mean, not when she was a girl.

My real-life villain... Anyone who makes more money and who is thinner and younger than me. Also, Mr Ahmadinejad.

The person who really makes me laugh... Most politicians; I think they are all a big joke.

The last time I cried... Paying my taxes.

My five-year plan... is to figure out a way to avoid paying taxes.

My life in six words... Truth, honesty, humanity, compassion, love, cash.

A LIFE IN BRIEF

Jackie Mason was born in Wisconsin, in 1936, and grew up in New York. He was ordained a rabbi at 25 but quit in order to become a stand-up. He achieved success in the Sixties thanks to regular appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show – but was banned after allegedly giving its host 'the finger' on-air. He went on to have a series of successful solo shows in the Eighties and Nineties. His 'farewell' show, Fearless, is at Wyndham's Theatre, London WC2, from 13 February to 17 March

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