My mom got this for me for Christmas due to my interest in Frank Sinatra (Jackie Mason was nearly killed due to his jokes about Frank Sinatra, and he was beaten up in a separate incident for the same reason). Mason denies the jokes in this book and says there were a lot of comedians with the last name Mason at the time who could have made them, but I had trouble believing that and the tone of that section was strange. It felt like it was in itself a joke but I have trouble with written sarcasm sometimes, so maybe I was missing something?
Overall, this book was like that — a bit confusing and weirdly structured. This seemed like a bit of a cash grab, as it was written after his career resurgence and is pretty workmanlike in its execution. The book is written as a back and forth between an omniscient narrator (presumably Gross) telling us the facts of Mason’s life and then Mason disputing them and telling his own point of view. This is somewhat discombobulating since we have access to Mason but the book is questioning his narrative and his facts, so we’re getting multiple layers of facts to grapple with. This was a fresh way of constructing an autobiography in a sort of post-modern fashion, and reminiscent of the Talmud, but also perplexing for a celebrity memoir. I never felt like I was really getting at who he was and it felt like a continuation of his stage persona. He also has some scores to settle here (mainly against Rodney Dangerfield) and I didn’t get the sense that self-examination was his driving power. Mainly he wanted to be funny and succeed, and the descriptions of his psychology around that motivator were interesting.
I don’t think I’d recommend this unless you are interested in reading about the Frank Sinatra incidents from his point of view or unless you’re a fan of Jackie Mason or the mid-century Borscht Belt comedian circuit. There is also some generally interesting information here about the beginnings of TV and Ed Sullivan.