In fact, the other day I got
reprimanded for laughing on an airplane. I was told to STOP IT. Stop that
laughing. Evidently it's a new rule: no laughing on airplanes. I'm not
sure if this applies to buses and trains, too, but evidently riding on an
airplane is NO LAUGHING MATTER. What happened is that I got to talkin to
the woman in the next seat, we started tellin stories, and pretty soon . .
. yes, I have to admit it. I'm not proud of it, but I can't lie to you. We
LAUGHED. We laughed quite a bit. We laughed and laughed, gosh darnit.
Unfortunately, after about five minutes of laughing, the flight attendant came up to me and said, "Would you mind being a little quieter? The people behind you are requesting it."
I said, "You mean the people right DIRECTLY behind me?"
She said, "Yes."
"You mean the people who are, like, four feet away, but they SUMMONED YOU to ask me? Is this a way of bringing the whole corporate influence of American Airlines to bear on the situation?"
She said, "They might want to sleep."
It was 7 p.m., and the flight was travelling between Las Vegas and New York City. Neither city is known for residents who retire at 7pm
I peered backwards, between the crack in the seats. A man and a woman, well-dressed, looked away, as though I wasn't peering backwards between the crack in the seats. I told the woman, "Okay, we won't laugh." And then, of course, I immediately STARTED LAUGHING. I couldn't help it. One thing that happens when you start laughing is that, no matter what ANYBODY says to you, you can't STOP laughing. You can't get mad. You can't even be unhappy. Somebody could say, "I just shot your dog," and you'd still have at least half a smile on your face. It takes a while to COME DOWN from laughter. You have to go to Laughter Detox or something. And if someone ORDERS you to stop, you MUST laugh.
So in this case it was, of course, IMPOSSIBLE. I looked at my partner-in-laughing-crime, and as soon as our eyes met, we started laughing EVEN LOUDER THAN BEFORE. She put her hand over my mouth. Of course, this made me LAUGH. Then we started to sputter. Sputtering is what happens when you want to laugh but you're trying not to. You can only sputter for about ten seconds at a time, and then you have to make some loud obnoxious sound, like a snort. And once you hear a snort, that's FUNNY, and so it creates MORE LAUGHTER.
I wonder if the airlines have considered the implications of the no-laughing policy. By its nature, the policy CREATES LAUGHTER. After a while, my new friend and I -- who had now bonded for life -- managed to stop laughing. The silence, of course, brought on a new round of laughs. Maybe 20 minutes later, we REALLY stopped. I said to her, "What are they gonna do? Land the plane in Des Moines and turn us over to the Laughter Police?" Of course, this led to fresh violations of the policy. Who makes up these laws anyhow?
Well, set all those rules aside,
cause tonight we're gonna laugh, as we watch the Mel Brooks comedy,
"Spaceballs." Daphne Zuniga is the princess who's kidnapped by the evil
Spaceballs, led by Rick Moranis as Dark Helmet in a pretty hilarious Darth Vader parody.
And Bill Pullman, filling in for Harrison Ford, is hired to rescue the princess before the Spaceballs . . . well, the plot's not important, so let's just do the drive-in totals. We have:
No dead bodies.
Gratuitous Doublemint twins.
Gratuitous guy who can do sound effects with his mouth.
Gratuitous Alien parody.
In fact, everything in a Mel Brooks movie is gratuitous -- that's what Mel's all about. Three stars. Check it out, and I'll be here with you.
[fading] Remember when your third-grade teacher would say "Wipe that grin off your face this INSTANT"? Did that EVER work? "Wipe that smirk off." [demonstrates] The idea of WIPING something off your face . . . is FUNNY.
You know, that may be an all-time
low, even by Mel Brooks standards. "Jamming the radar" -- hurling a bottle
of jam at a satellite dish [then agian, remember what hit the fan in "Airplane"?]. Followed by "Funny, she doesn't look Druish."
The man has no shame, does he, which is why we love him. Nothing like a green laser ray to the crotch to get me chuckling. "Beam me up, Snotty." John Candy as a half-man, half-dog named Barf -- you can never say Mel is too high-falutin' for his audience. And remember that guy who did all the sound-effects, from the Police Academy flicks? Michael Winslow. Very big in the eighties. "Spaceballs" came out in 1987 . . . let's see, ten years after Star Wars. Nah, that's not too late to do a parody. There was a short film that came out right after "Star Wars" called Hardware Wars, where they used all these household appliances -- I don't know if you guys saw that. But I'd rather WAIT for my parodies, gosh darnit, until I've forgotten the details of the original flick. Like, I'm not sure if Bill Pullman is supposed to be a Luke Skywalker rip-off or a Han Solo rip-off. I guess he's Han Solo, and there is no Luke Skywalker. Anyhow, let's do the ads and get back to "Spaceballs."
[fading] There IS a C-3P0 rip-off -- Dot Matrix, featuring the voice of . . . Joan Rivers. She wrote that movie "The Girl Most Likely To" about a girl who gets plastic surgery then decides to kill everyone who made fun of her when she was ugly. You know who's actually in the gold suit, though? Lorene Yarnell. Remember Shields and Yarnell? Of course you do! The mimes of choice from the seventies! People just couldn't get enough of 'em on "Sonny and Cher," so the network gave em their own show. 1977, same year "Star Wars" came out. And I believe that closes the circle.
The dunes of Yuma, Arizona, standing in for . . . wherever they're supposed to be. It was 115 in the shade when they were shooting out there in the sand, the film melted -- total nightmare. Mel Brooks said "To work like this, you really need a sense of Yuma." He's a cut-up, isn't he? I bet you guys don't know this about Mel Brooks: He was in the army in World War II, and his job was to deactivate land mines before the infantry was sent into action. The first combat he saw was the Battle of the Bulge, 1944. How you go from defusing bombs to being one of the most well-known comedy directors in the world, I'm not exactly sure, but there's prob'ly a link. Not only a director, but an actor, too. And a writer -- writing lines like "I was found on the doorstep of a monastery, somewhere in the Ford Galaxy." Of course, our favorite Mel Brooks role around here is the voice of Mr. Toilet Man in Look Who's Talking, Too! All right, commercials and then back to the flick.
[fading] Joan Rivers' performance is kinda subdued in this movie. Where's that Joan we know and love from the Academy Awards? That's her natural habitat. Bears need to be in the woods, fish need to be in the ocean, and Joan Rivers needs to be at the Oscars.
Am I the only one who thinks Rick Moranis is the funniest guy in this movie? I think he's great as Dark Helmet. The critics PANNED this flick. They all said stuff like "'Spaceballs' has an overdose of bucks and an underdose of yucks." But, of course, the audience doesn't care about stuff like that, and it was Mel's most successful comedy in years. I say "comedy" because, if you recall, Mel Brooks has produced several more serious flicks, like The Elephant Man, "84 Charing Cross Road," and of course, my favorite, "The Fly." Mel has an interesting way to figure out what jokes to use in his movies. It's based on this thing the Marx Brothers used do when they were working out a new film. They'd perform the script in vaudeville houses before a live audience, and if a joke got a laugh, it stayed in, and if it didn't, they chucked it. Mel Brooks and his writing partners, Thomas Meehan and Ronny Graham -- Ronny died just last year on the 4th of July -- they wrote a first draft of "Spaceballs" that was 315 pages long. An average comedy script is about 90 to 100 pages. So they gave this 315-page script to 50 people, and told em to put checks by the stuff they liked, and X's by the stuff they didn't. The first script was mostly X's. Then they did a 240-page version, and finally they got it down to 126 pages, and that's the one they shot. THEN they have what they call the death cut. They screen a rough version of the flick for the secretaries and various people on the studio lot, and whatever they like stays in, and whatever doesn't get a laugh is out. You guys feel closer to the process now? I know I do. All right, ads and then back to the flick.
[fading] When someone asked Mel Brooks if he thought humor today goes too far, he said, "You can't go too far if you're intelligent and your heart is in the right place. You can only go too far if you're stupid and you have nothing to say." But here's my question, Mel. That "comb the desert" joke -- you overruled the committee on that one, didn't you?
I love that stunt-double gag -- that made me laugh. And this movie WAS dangerous to shoot. One time, Dick Van Patten -- who plays King of the Druids, of course -- anyway, Dick was decked out in the king's robes and the whole schmear, and the crown slipped on his head, and cut his eyelid. In fact, earlier the crown had cut his nose. I mean, come on, can we not afford a stunt double for Dick during the crown scenes? Anyway, it's time for for "Joe Bob's Advice to the Hopeless," [enters] with help from someone who has a couple of stunt doubles of her own, if you know what I mean and I think you do, Rusty the TNT Mail Girl.
RUSTY: So how come you weren't around for the last movie?
RUSTY: What do you mean, "what"? You usually host the movie before this, too. From the mansion.
J.B.: I don't know what you're talking about.
RUSTY: Were you not fulfulling your . . . obligations to Miss Verona?
J.B.: No comment.
RUSTY: Did you not have the proper tool for the job?
J.B.: Do you have a letter for me?
RUSTY: Ooh, sore spot. Yes, I have an e-mail from Janet Booth of Connecticut.
"Hey, Dude! I meant to write last week after Dirty Dancing. You probably had lots of answers telling you that the song Patrick Swayze sings is 'She's Like the Wind' (yeah, the sappy one that plays when he drives off looking like he's not going to come back). And as for your other question of the evening, Richard Marx is known for 'Right Here Waiting For You' ('wherever you go, whatever you do, I will be right here waiting for you' - sounds like a stalker) and 'Hold Onto the Nights.' [Note: Edit made.]
J.B.: That's it -- "Right Here Waiting"! One of the great stalker power-ballads of the eighties.
"If we see you this week, it means the world as we know it didn't end at midnight on 1/1/2000 (I doubt it will). But if we all go the way of most drive-ins (down the tubes), it's been nice watchin ya. Happy New Year (or as I like to say Happy Nude Year)! Janet (JB) from Connecticut. Will you be ringing in the new year with Grape Nehi? It will be Korbel for moi."
J.B.: Thanks, Janet, Happy Nude Year to you, too. And yes, this IS Grape Nehi. At least during working hours it is. And I am still here.
RUSTY: At least for the second movie.
J.B.: It was MY choice to leave. The house was too big.
RUSTY: Uh huh.
J.B.: Okay, it was mutual.
J.B.: Has she mentioned me at all?
RUSTY: Um . . . no. [exits]
J.B.: She'll be begging me to come back, you watch. They think they're over you, they get drunk and they call. . . . No, wait, that's what EYE do.
"Use the Schwartz!" You like when the crew appeared in the shot? That's a little gag that runs through Mel Brooks's movies. Kind of ironic that a flick that parodies George Lucas's "Star Wars" used George Lucas's Industrial Light & Magic for some of the special effects. I'm sure you guys know this already, but "Spaceballs" was the first theatrical feature to make use of the Eastman color high-speed SA negative film 5295, with an exposure index of 400 in 3200 Kelvin tungsten light. We all know that, but did you know it featured dimensionally controlled perforations that exceeded PS-ANSI standards? And it matched the sensitivity of the high-speed 5294 film, AND gave the sharpness of the medium-speed 5247. I know, you're all asking, if speed is an issue, why not just use the 5294 emulsion for blue screen? Well? Anybody? That's because, since the beamsplitter is behind the actors, you'd have problems with reflections. I can't believe you guys. All right, commercials and then back to "Spaceballs."
[fading] No, no, you can't use 5247. You'd need, like, 200 footcandles of key for a T 4.5 exposure, and, obviously, WAY more for stop T-8 or T-11. Where'd you guys go to school, anyway? Did you like the laser-to-the-crotch joke? I thought so.
Man, we're just ALL over the lot now, aren't we? Great "Alien" parody there, which then becomes the singing frog from the classic Warner Brothers cartoon, "One Froggy Evening." And I love the circus crew escaping from the Spaceballs' ship. The newscaster on the TV looked vaguely familiar, didn't he? Who was that guy? John Wyner is Colonel Sandurz, I didn't mention him yet. And of course, Mel Brooks plays the dual role of President Skroob -- spell it backwards and you get Brooks -- pretty clever, eh? -- and Yogurt, the three-foot-tall Everlasting Know-It-All. Hey, how come Rick Moranis hasn't been around more the last few years? I mean, he made it pretty big on SCTV doin Bob and Doug McKenzie with Dave Thomas, then they made that movie, "Strange Brew." Then he was in Ghostbusters, Little Shop of Horrors, "Spaceballs," Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, part one AND two, "Parenthood," The Flintstones. For a while he was THE most sought after comedy star in film. Then around 94 it gets pretty skimpy. His wife died of cancer in the early 90s -- I hope that's not why he dropped out or anything, cause that would be really sad. And now that I've brought everybody down, let's get back to the wacky comedy! Sorry 'bout that. Roll the commercials.
[fading] Ooh, come to think of it, John Candy died in 94. He and Rick Moranis were buddies from SCTV. Rick, if you're watching, write in and tell me how you're doin. We'll ask Count Floyd. He'll know. "Very scary."
Mel Brooks always ends with a wedding, doesn't he?, and this movie ends with Bill Pullman and Daphne Zuniga getting married. Bill Pullman actually DID get married during the production of "Spaceballs" -- took a day off and tied the knot with a dancer named Tamara Hurwitz. And by the way, that was Mel Brooks's late writing partner Ronny Graham as the minister. Of course, my favorite part was the homage to Planet of the Apes, which we're showing here two weeks from now. Next week we've got "Future Hunters," a movie that has EVERYTHING: kung fu, midgets with crossbows, amazon women in bikinis, mysterious Filipino horsemen, and the goldang Spear of Destiny, so check that out.
That's it for me, Joe Bob Briggs, reminding you that if the shortest sentence in the English language is "I am," the longest sentence in the English language is "I do."
You guys know all about the Air Force's ultra-high-security, super-secret base in Nevada, "Area 51," right? Well, late one afternoon, the Air Force folks out at Area 51 are surprised to see a Cessna landing at their secret base. They immediately impound the aircraft and haul the pilot into an interrogation room. The pilot's story is that he took off from Vegas, got lost, and spotted the Base just as he was about to run out of fuel. The Air Force runs a full FBI background check on the pilot and holds him overnight during the investigation. By the next day, they're finally convinced that the pilot really was lost and isn't a spy. They gas up his airplane, give him a terrifying "you-did-not-see-a-base" briefing, complete with threats of spending the rest of his life in prison, tell him Vegas was that-a-way on such-and-such a heading, and send him on his way. Next day, the same Cessna shows up again. Once again, the MP's surround the plane, only this time there are TWO people in it. The same pilot jumps out and says, "Do anything you want to me, but my wife is in the plane, and you have to tell her where I was last night!"
Joe Bob Briggs, reminding you that
the drive-in will never die. [fading]
The other night I was gazing at the brilliant full moon -- the same one, I imagined to myself, at which Socrates, Aristotle and Plato gazed. Suddenly, I imagine they have appeared beside me. I tell Socrates about the national debate over one's right to die and wonder at the constancy of the human condition. I tell Plato that I live in the country that has come the closest to Utopia, and I show him a copy of the Constitution. I tell Aristotle that we have found many more than four basic elements, and I show him the periodic table. I get a box of kitchen matches and strike one. They gasp in wonder. We spend the rest of the night lighting farts.
Click here for the themesong to Spaceballs (wav audio, 791k)
Or here to hear Blazing Saddles again (midi). Where are the white women at?
Spaceballs movie theatrical trailer
(click to play clip)
Host segment transcript of 1-15-00 broadcast ©2000 Turner Network Television. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved