Comic legend Jackie Mason satirized the tendency of the news media, opinion makers and the general public to focus more on the delivery and presentation of remarks than on the actual policies presented at presidential debates.
“If these debates were held fifty years ago, Groucho Marx would have been the president,” Mason quipped during a radio interview Sunday.
Responding to last week’s Republican primary debate, Mason stated: “You know in these debates, a good joke goes a lot further than a good idea. You can have the most brilliant ideas in the world but nobody will remember it. You know what they remember? Who told the best one-liner. Who came up with the best joke.”
The Borscht Belt comedian was speaking in an interview to air Sunday night on “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio” on New York’s AM 970 The Answer and Philadelphia’s NewsTalk 990 AM.
Mason said presidential debates have become “basically a comedy contest” in which “policies and opinions mean nothing.”
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“The guy who talks faster and better will become the next president,” he told Klein. “If you’ve got good breath control you can become the president in a second.”
Mason continued: “Do you realize this is the only business in the world, the presidency of the United States, where how you talk is more important than anything else? Or the best joke is more important than anything else?”
“Do you know of any other job in the word that depends on how fast you talk or which joke you tell?”
“If you are going to a dentist, do you ever stop to think how good he talks or do you want to know what kind of a dentist he is? I never heard somebody recommend a dentist by saying, ‘You know, he’s a fantastic dentist. Why? Did you ever hear him talk? What a talker? How about his dentistry? This I don’t know. But what a speaker!'”
Klein asked Mason to rate the different candidates.
The comedian said Ben Carson “happens to be a great man and he came up with a couple of great jokes” at the debate.
Mason also had kind words for Mike Huckabee, declaring the former Arkansas governor is “the most passionately concerned about Israel.”
“My rabbi is not half as concerned about Israel as he is,” said Mason. “You meet Jews every day. If you bring up Israel they don’t even care about it. If you meet this man, that’s all he talks about is Israel.”
“You never know he’s even an American citizen,” Mason joked about Huckabee.
Mason, however, was no fan of Sen. Marco Rubio, claiming the politician sounded like a robot.
Stated Mason: “Everything is so perfectly rehearsed and every word is in perfect place. Botta-bum, botta-bum, botta-bum. It sounds like if he left it would still be going on. You don’t even need him to be there talking. Because it talks by itself. Botta-bum, botta-bum, botta-bum.”
“It’s so perfectly organized. It’s like a girl who’s a ballet dancer. And the way they have every step perfected, that’s how he had every word perfected. It sounded like if he missed a word he’d go out of his mind. He’d lose his place and he’d have to give up the business.”
Listen to the interview: