King of Comedy, Queen of Sheba

By Laurie Heifetz

Published March 03, 2006, issue of March 03, 2006.

Comedian Jackie Mason’s latest one-man show may be called “Freshly Squeezed,” but his 20-year-old daughter Sheba’s brand of comedy may just be fresher still.

Though now in the same field, the two Masons haven’t been all that close. For one, Sheba’s mother, actress Ginger Reiter, had to sue Mason in order to establish his paternity. (Reiter and Mason dated for 10 years but never married.) As one might expect, the younger Mason’s view of family life is far from rosy.

“My family is pretty dysfunctional,” she joked at a recent New York gig. “I’m at my cousin’s bar mitzvah. I go to use the bathroom, and I could hear my aunt teaching her 12-year-old daughter how to do cocaine: ‘Honey, use a 50-dollar bill. Never use a one. Do you know how many people handle a one-dollar bill?!’”

“My mother is a bit of a nut job,” she said. “She’s one of those leftovers from the ’60s. Other kids would come home from a date to find milk and cookies on the table. My mother would leave a joint and a pregnancy test.”

And her famous father is hardly spared.

“My father’s also a standup comic, on Broadway, and I’m proud of it, I really am, but sometimes I just wish I had a better-looking comedian for a father, like Rodney Dangerfield or Rosie O’Donnell.”

Though relatively new to the comedy circuit, Sheba has been in show biz since she was in diapers. At 6 weeks old, she took part in a mock fund-raiser on Howard Stern’s radio show. (“The Ugliest Baby,” the bit was called.) She was born and raised in Boca Raton, Fla., where she lived with her mother. Five years ago, Reiter married Emanuel Silver, a cantor in Hollywood, Fla. At 17, Sheba starred in the musical “Pickles,” which Reiter wrote about her own relationship with Mason. Reiter also has also written a one-woman show about the Jewish matriarchs, in which she belly dances and invites the audience to join in.

Sheba and her father both took part in the 2004 British television documentary “Watching Jew, Watching Me,” a response to the hate Web site jewwatch.com. The site “keeps a close watch” over prominent Jews, Jackie Mason among them.

Sheba, a petite redhead with hazel eyes, lives in Manhattan and attends Baruch College. She majors in communications. To help make ends meet, she works as a fill-in waitress at comedy clubs and tends bar at Broadway plays.

“I love livin’ in the city, I do,” she said in her act, “but it’s so expensive. You always got to pinch pennies to make it. Like dry-cleaning a dress, that costs $8.50. Forget that! I just donate it to The Salvation Army. They launder it, dry clean it, and I buy it back for two bucks. I save $6.50.”



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