Old Jokes for Old Folks

For the comics who play South Florida's condo circuit, knockin' 'em dead is a disturbingly distinct possibility

Mason laughed, says Man, who took that as a sign of encouragement and pressed onward with the routine. "After about two or three jokes, Jackie is hysterical," Man recounts. "He's looking at his daughter very lovingly."

After about five minutes, Mason checked his wristwatch and said he had to meet friends for dinner. As Sheba turned to leave, however, he called to his daughter. "He looks her right in the eye and says, 'We'll talk it over,'" Man says.

Sheba, who confirms Man's recollection of the event, describes the tàte-…-tàte as "unbelievable, really rad, and outstanding." Though she hasn't heard from her father since, her mother says Mason's child-support payment did arrive ten days earlier than usual this month.

For his part, Man remains obsessed with the career windfall that Sheba Mason, and, by extension, her father, might provide. "What a mistake that I didn't take advantage of my mother while she was alive," he muses regretfully. "I could have easily made it on the Tonight Show with my mother. I really goofed. Well, I've got another chance with Sheba Mason. I'm smarter and I'm not going to goof again. No more mistakes."

Suddenly he breaks into an impression of Jackie Mason. "The most important thing in life is you have to know who you are," says Man as Mason. "Thank God I know. I didn't always know. I'm not ashamed to admit it. There was that time I went to a psychiatrist. I did. Right away he said,'This is not you.' I said, 'If this is not me, then who is it?' He said, 'I don't know either.' I said, 'So what do I need you for?' He said, 'To find out who you are. Together we're going to look for the real you.' I said, 'If I don't know who I am, how am I going to know where to look, and even if I find me, how do I know if it's me? Besides, if I were to look for me, what do I need him for? I can look myself....'"

The bit started off as a good impression, but Man has taken it too far, gone on a little too long. He'll be the first to tell you, though, that persistence is what pays off in this business. And he'll tell you about the time in the early Sixties when Lenny Bruce stopped by to catch the act he was doing with his partner, Jack Eagle: "Bruce told us, 'Hey, you guys got a great act. Don't ever give up, because if you stay in this business long enough, sooner or later people will hear about you.'"

He'll also tell you the condo entertainment business has been good to him: "Someone came up to me the other day, it was an elderly woman. She said, 'Oh, Mr. Man, you're so good. You drove all the pain away.' Bringing that kind of enjoyment to people is what makes it all worth it."

Maybe enough people have already heard of Frankie Man.

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