Jackie Mason, the legendary Borscht Belt stand-up whose career spanned decades, died on Saturday in Manhattan, confirmed his longtime friend Raoul Felder to the New York Times. “He died peacefully with several close friends and family at his side,” Felder told CNN. He was 93.
Mason’s comedy was characterized by frantic self-deprecation and anxiety, as well as a distinctly Jewish point of view. “My humor — it’s a man in a conversation, pointing things out to you,” Mason told the Times in 1988. “He’s not better than you, he’s just another guy. I see life with love — I’m your brother up there — but if I see you make a fool out of yourself, I owe it to you to point that out to you.” A former rabbi and son of Belarusian immigrants, Mason started out performing in the Catskills, before becoming a fixture on The Ed Sullivan Show and The Tonight Show. He also earned Tony and Emmy Awards for his one-man Broadway show, The World According to Me, in 1988. Mason earned his second Emmy Award in 1992, for his work on The Simpsons as Rabbi Hyman Krustofski, the father of Krusty the Clown.
Comedians, actors, and writers took to Twitter in the wake of the news to pay tribute to Mason. Simpsons writer Al Jean wrote, “I feel like Krusty. We will very much miss Jackie Mason.” Gilbert Gottfried added, “One of the best. RIP Jackie Mason.”