Mel Brooks is the greatest man I’ve never met. And I’ve not met a lot of people. Almost a few dozen I think.
You see, I’ve always loved movies—and comedy. And if there’s one thing Mel Brooks does well, it’s comedy movies. Growing up, I became obsessed with Mel Brooks. To a point that maybe it wasn’t healthy. When I was younger, I once watched Spaceballs 13 times in six days. Yeah, that happened. I’m a bit ashamed, but at the same time, I’m a little proud. Oh, to be young, carefree and 24 again.
Mel Brooks truly has had more influence on me than he will ever know. But you’ll know, oh, yes you’ll know, because you’re going to keep reading because you’re probably my mom reading this. Hi Mom.
My writing is often heavily inspired by the works of famous funnymen and women, but Mel Brooks is a huge influence, more so than most. A simple, yet hilarious joke in History of the World: Part 1 had a huge impact on me in college. There is adult language so please be advised.
I love this joke. So much so that it inspired me to write what ended up being my first full-length play, a parody of Oedipus Rex, appropriately titled, Mother F*****: The Story of Oedipus. See what I did there?
I’m not usually that vulgar, as my previous posts would suggest, but it can’t be denied that Mel Brooks has had his fair share of adult-themed guffaws. But he’s also had many Jewish-themed guffaws, and that’s what I want to share with you today. These are some of my favorite Jewish moments from what I have dubbed, “The Illustrious Twelve.” That being the 12 movies Mel Brooks had a big hand in directing, writing, producing or starring in.
It’s true that not all his films have outright Jewish moments, but you can always feel the influence. And while these are not necessarily my overall favorite Mel Brooks moments, (I absolutely love every time he breaks the fourth wall. In fact, in my own writing, I like to destroy it.) these are my favorite Mel Brooks Jewish-inspired humor-filled moments … part 1.
The Indian Chief: Mel Brooks played three roles in this movie: Gov. William J. LePetomaine (who I dressed up as for Halloween one year), a random aviator in the criminals line (blink and you’ll miss it), and the Indian Chief. The great part here, that all goyim probably had go straight over their heads, is that the foreign language they are speaking is … Yiddish. Heh heh.
Lili Von Shtupp: Oh Mel Brooks, you sly dog. Subtly putting that innuendo into the sultry character played to perfection by Madeline Kahn. If you are unaware of what the joke is here, I would highly suggest you look it up what shtupp means in Yiddish. Enjoy the song “I’m Tired” where if you listen closely, you can spot Mel Brooks in his fourth role as the voice of one of the soldiers. I sure can spot ‘em.
Princess Vespa: This isn’t so much a moment as the whole character. We have here a Princess from the planet Druidia. So what does that mean our hero’s, Lone Star and Barf are stuck with? That’s right, just what they needed: a Druish Princess. I apologize for the clip, but I could only find it in Lego form. Tee hee.
The Schwartz: Oh there is quite a lot going on here. The obvious is that instead of The Force, we get The Schwartz! The not so obvious is the joke involves the line “I see your Schwartz is as big as mine!” Oh Mel Brooks, you sly dog – again.
The Disguised Jewish Couple: I won’t even get into the fact that the movie is titled High Anxiety. No, the part that stands out for me is when Mel Brooks and Madeline Kahn need to get through airport security without being recognized and disguise themselves as an old, obnoxious Jewish couple. I know it’s not precisely Jewish, but go with me here. I love how Brooks is essentially channeling the 2000-year-old man. The accent is brilliant and I love every moment of this scene. While it’s never actually stated, I’ve decided to call them Harry and Ethel, because I’m the one writing this so I can do that.
Robin Hood: Men In Tights
Rabbi Tuckman: Pretty much the most Jewish character we can get, we have here Mel Brooks playing a variation on Friar Tuck from the original story. He performs circumcisions for “Half-Off,” his payos are attached to his hat, and there’s my favorite line about Robin of Locksley and Maid Marion of Baghel and how, “You know, you two were made for each other. I mean, what a combination. Locksley and Bahgel! It can't miss!” Rabbi Tuckman is great.
History of the World: Part 1
Moses: Wonder what the other five were.
And then there was this.
Josephus avoiding death: Josephus, played by Gregory Hines, is trying not to get thrown to the lions, and to do so, he pretends he’s a Jew. The soldier then pulls his pants open and Josephus responds with, “He missed.”
The Spanish Inquisition: Felt I should throw this in here, more or less for Jackie Mason, the slot machine and the bubble that shouts “Oy!” among so much more. And the song is just oh so catchy. Let’s begin!
And finally, of course, Jews in Space:
So there you have it, my favorite Mel Brooks Jewish-inspired humor-filled moments … part 1! Just like History of the World, there’s probably not going to be a part 2. But hey, what can ya do? But now I want to hear from you! I know I didn’t touch upon every single Mel Brooks Jewish joke so I must have missed some of your own personal favorites. Let me know what I missed and even what your own overall favorite Mel Brooks moments are. I always love to hear what others think. Thanks for reading and may the Schwartz be with you.