Posted on | July 4, 2013 | 153 Comments
The best comedy ever made? That’s a tough call, but if it’s not Animal House, then surely it must be Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles — and not just because I first saw it as a 15-year-old with my dope buddies Mike and Dave after we’d toked up some fine Colombian gold bud.
Even without the buzz, it’s one of the zaniest things ever captured on film, but that day in 1974, I quite literally fell in the floor in spasms of painfully hysterical laughter. There was no film tradition Mel Brooks did not mock, nor any taboo he did not violate. The humor was a madcap mix of everything you could possibly imagine — vaudeville innuendo, sight gags, fart jokes — perfectly aimed at an audience that had grown up reading Mad magazine and had more recently graduated to National Lampoon and George Carlin albums.
Kids who see Blazing Saddles today cannot possibly imagine how shocking it was to see it in 1974. Unfortunately, most younger people now have only seen it on cable TV, where it gets chopped to pieces, and younger viewers are jaded by having seen other comedies that followed through the gigantic holes that Mel Brooks punched through the wall of Things You Can’t Say or Do in a Movie.
One of the running gags in the movie is that everybody in the “peaceful town called Rock Ridge,” is named Johnson. After the bad guys have made their first violent raid against Rock Ridge, there is an emergency meeting at the town’s church. One of the speeches — if you can call it that — is given by Gabby Johnson, a grizzled old-timer who jabbers incomprehensibly but with much passion and angry gestures. After Gabby has finished making noises about these sidewindin’ bushwackin’ hornswagglin’ cracker croakers, Olson Johnson then stands up to address the assembled citizenry of Rock Ridge:
“Now who can argue with that? I think we’re all indebted to Gabby Johnson for clearly stating what needed to be said. I’m particularly glad that these lovely children were here today to hear that speech. Not only was it authentic frontier gibberish, it expressed a courage little seen in this day and age.”
For some reason, that came to mind today as I was reading President Obama’s statement about the military coup in Egypt. No, it’s not authentic frontier gibberish, but it is certainly as incomprehensible as anything Gabby Johnson said that day in Rock Ridge:
“Core principles . . . universal human rights . . . legitimate aspirations . . . the democratic process . . . we are deeply concerned . . . an inclusive and transparent process . . . Given today’s developments, I have also directed the relevant departments and agencies to review the implications under U.S. law for our assistance to the Government of Egypt.”
Exactly what the hell does this mean? Have the White House speech writers been replaced by a Random Platitude Generator, a computer program that automatically cranks out empty rhetoric, glittering generalities and vague diplomatic argle-bargle?
The new sheriff . . . Well, he’s failed to answer the critical question we now face in Egypt: “What are we going to do about these sidewindin’ bushwackin’ hornswagglin’ cracker croakers?”
As for me, I say we work up a Number Six on ‘em . . . .
The latest news out of Egypt is . . . well, it’s not really news: The Muslim Brotherhood hates Jews, John Kerry is a liar, and President Obama is a Stuttering Clusterf–k of a Miserable Failure.
Meanwhile, in the comments, I notice that some people are claiming Young Frankenstein is funnier than Blazing Saddles, which is proof some people smoked too much weed back in the day. You could have said Airplane or Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, and I’d have said, “OK, maybe.” But Young Frankenstein? No, sorry.