We Need to Watch Blazing Saddles Daily
“Look at Jewish history. Unrelieved lamenting would be intolerable. So for every ten Jews beating their breasts, God designated one to be crazy and amuse the breast beaters. By the time I was five I knew I was that one…” Mel Brooks
I was about ten or so and I knew I was the crazy one when my fellow campers nicknamed me Giggles. I was often reminded of this designation by my father’s constant inquiries about my remarks and behavior when he asked, “What are you, some kind of comedian?”
Yep, Dad I guess I was. I learned at a young age that the only escape from the unpleasantness of life was Milton Berle, Sid Caesar and Jackie Gleason.
My escape always included someone saying or doing something stupidly funny. Milton Berle in a dress, Sid Caesar spouting some outrageous accent, or Jackie Gleason and Art Carney exhibiting their brand of the sublimely ridiculous week after week. Stupid equals funny always worked for me.
“Does anyone of our generation not laugh when they remember Art Carney’s attempt at addressing a golf ball, “Hello, Ball.” Or Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks as the 2000-year-old man or Jack Benny’s alleged stinginess? Perhaps you had your own favorite comedian on The Ed Sullivan Show; Myron Cohen, Richard Pryor, Jackie Mason, Flip Wilson, Jack Carter, Totie Fields, Henny Youngman, Senor Wences, Jack Benny, Godfrey Cambridge, George Burns, Bob Newhart, George Carlin and so many many more.
One could count on little in life except that there would be one of the world’s great comics performing on Ed Sullivan each week.
I’ve been asked countless times why so many Jewish people are comedians and the answer is not all comics are Jewish, perhaps they are just more obvious. Maybe their pain is more palpable than others. While many comics of that era observed the times, Jewish comics observed their own circumstances.
Laughing at their own existence is what made life bearable in a strange new world where so many struggled to feed their families.
For example Melvin Kominsky, AKA Mel Brooks was two years old when his father died leaving his mother with four young boys to feed. She worked tirelessly and suffered for her children and it would be impossible for Mel not to have been affected by his mother’s plight.
So many young Jewish comedians of that era found their release in laughter.
I can’t honestly remember any Rockefellers or Carnegie’s stepping on stage to tell jokes to the masses, can you? Not too many comedy clubs in Newport or Palm Beach back then.
Humor comes from pain and the greater the suffering the higher form the humor.
There is a legacy of suffering in Europe and throughout time that has forced Jewish people to look toward laughter to lighten their load. Humor is one of life’s greatest gifts that can be had for free.
The ability to destroy one’s enemies with a joke is an art that has been cultivated for centuries by Jewish and all people and must continue to be embraced in these harrowing times.
I won’t even get into the fact that anti-Semitism has had a great resurgence, suffice it to say we need our senses of humor now more than ever.
Yet, that is the conundrum we now face as a people.
The Jewish people have throughout time been credited for two healing discoveries aside from their other numerous accomplishments, chicken soup AKA Jewish penicillin and their sense of humor. I’m willing to bet the king’s jesters were the Cohens and Goldbergs in the kingdoms.
If nothing else the Jewish people discovered that laughter is the best coping and defense mechanism and have honed comedy as a method of survival. Sadly, today many lack understanding of the power of humor to heal and restore.
Great comedians like Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock and others have lamented the fact they can no longer work on college campuses because young people are too politically correct and according to Jerry, “Don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.”
This lack of a sense of humor and understanding the true essence of how to do funny has been seriously corrupted.
Today too many comics bring the mean in lieu of the mirth. There is an art to humor and just insults and mean spirited attacks do not “bring the funny” but only add to the anger filling up space. There is a way to punch a hole in what one feels compelled to destroy and letting the air out of a negative balloon.
Being critical and destructive is no substitute for humor. There is a path to hilarity in every unhappy situation in the human condition and true comedians can find and exploit it with wit and skill.
Despots possess no sense of humor but have honed the art of ridicule. Humor should never emulate criticism laced with cruelty and far too many comic posers can no longer discern the difference.
Aside from Mel Brooks, one of the comedians capable of taking someone to the distant outposts of discomfort is Larry David.
Yes, some of Larry’s humor can make you squirm, but if you get his joke it can also make you laugh harder than anything. Great humor must occasionally broach thorny subjects to achieve its goals, but without that bravery humor is only a superficial laugh and no more.
Great jokes dig deep down into your soul where pain lives and exorcise that ache to rid it from your life.
At times winning a war is not always enough to destroy residual pain.
Case in point, “Springtime for Hitler.” Come on, is there anything funnier than a bunch of Nazis singing and dancing about their attempts to take over the world with chorus girls dressed as beer and pretzels? Mel Brooks is the master at doing Hitler but he is not alone.
Charlie Chaplin created the little tramp character to imitate the most evil man on the planet and reduce him to an object of ridicule, and he succeeded beautifully.
Laughing at or mimicking someone plunges a knife into their bubble of evil and contempt puncturing the harmful effects and deflating the injury.
No one can be taken seriously when we are doubled up with laughter at his antics. Not too hard to figure out why becoming the class clown was preferable to becoming the class punching bag.
That’s why kids today miss the point. They mistakenly believe that by not mentioning it they can destroy the bugaboo. They are patently wrong. Hate cannot be eradicated by ignoring or legislating it out of existence.
If there is one thing I’ve noticed over the years it’s that comedy clubs are the great equalizer. People who are laughing together are not shooting one another.
No one screaming in pain at a joke is spouting hateful remarks toward others. Humor creates camaraderie among all people and bonds them in their suffering.
No society can exist without laughter and more than anything else I’m witnessing today that must give one pause is that the lack of humor is palpable. Laughing at our fears diminishes them while anger elevates. Everyone is allowing rage to fill his or her spaces in lieu of hearty laughs.
We need to chuckle together to solve many of the world’s problems, to seek out the tenth crazy among us to entertain with hilarity and we must chill out and let it all go. More than ever it’s imperative comedians bring the mirth not the malicious.
Every laugh lowers the level of hatred and pain, so laugh your asses off daily and encourage everyone else you know to do the same.
Watch Blazing Saddles, The Producers or your favorite comedy or comic and roar hysterically until you’re writhing in pain. If you do this I guarantee you’ll consume less calories and live a far happier and more positive life.
Puffy Chicken Apple Cheddar Bake
6 boneless breasts pounded until thin
Grated cheddar cheese
6 thin apple slices
3 strips of cooked bacon
1 box of puff pastry
Salt and Pepper to taste
½ tsp. Paprika
1 cup of heavy cream
Season chicken and place 1 slice apple, cheese and ½ slice of bacon on top and place inside square of puff pastry. Place egg wash around the square edges and cover with another square. Crimp the edges together with a fork. Brush with melted butter or if you prefer an egg wash and place on cookie sheet and bake according to the package instructions. Before serving pour cheese sauce over the top and sprinkle with grated apples.
Apple Cheese sauce
2 cups of cream
Salt and pepper
1 Teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
½ tsp. paprika
Mix together and pour over pastry or serve on the side.