Field hollers et work songs

This clip is from Blazing Saddles. Mel Brooks (and very possibly Richard Pryor, who was a writer on the film) created a brilliant segment that manages to cut right to vicious racist heart of the u.s. in ways that only satire can achieve. I hesitated to add this clip in with eminently serious songs, but the songs speak for themselves, and the use of satire is deadly serious. The best satires crush your heart and make you laugh a the same time. Absurd, non?

Mel Brooks

To me, clips are a perfect way to watch a lot of Mel Brooks. If you haven’t seen the film, you may lose a little from not having the total context of the film, but as you will see – if you like the humor – clips work pretty damn well…There are a few exceptions, but the way he wrote lends itself to watching “bits.” After all, comics write and perform bits, so there you go.


orson wells narrates – of course. mel, clearly getting off on playing moses, throws in some yiddish, satirizes religion and belief in a few brilliant seconds – who else can do this? well, many have satirized belief and religion brilliantly, but so much is contained in the dropping of those “extra” commandments…brilliant.


this bit has almost all of the elements that make Mel great. it satirizes and/or pokes fun at bureaucracy, empire, man’s inhumanity to man (and women), philosophy, language, show biz and comedy itself – which is coupled with the inside show biz joke about swifty lazar, and throws in some slapstick at the end for good measure.

Mel Brooks is serious

this is gold. towards the end of the clip Mel talks about how serious his movies are. i have always wanted to hear him say something like this. inexplicably, in all the interviews i’ve heard with him, no interviewer has ever had the presence of mind to ask the question. to me, that was always the elephant in the room. well, here is the elephant in all its glory (starts at 6:55).


the entire BBC doc is in this playlist, along with a whole playlist of Mel.