Ask Big Chief Cool Daddy
Dear Cool Daddy: OK, so what is it Jewish Indian Chief Mel Brooks is saying to the black settlers in Blazing Saddles? That part where he yells sounds vaguely familiar. …from Spanky, Eugene OR
Dear Spanky: Vaguely familiar, eh? Did you by any chance hang around midways in your misspent youth? Because it’s carny slang, and I’ll get to that in a moment. Yeah, that’s a great scene…but it reminds me of how different it is the first time you see it. Like I was mentioning the other day, the “How am I funny?” scene in Goodfellas…as much as we always get a kick out of it, the very first time you saw it was probably kind of creepy…you just didn’t know what the heck was going to happen, right? There are lots of other examples…the chest-burster in Alien…numerous scenes from Jaws…anybody who didn’t jump when that eye-ball popped out, well, check him for a pulse!
And the Jewish Indian scene…the first time, the thing was just so incongruous, it was wonderful…well, as is the whole movie, when you get right down to it! But I daresay you can’t experience that same surprise upon subsequent viewings. Mel’s speaking mostly Yiddish, and here’s a translation I got off the web…dunno if the spelling is correct, but as you might say, “it’s in da ballpark…”
Chief Mel and 2 braves trot over to the wagon on their pinto ponies…Mel gives them the once-over.
The braves threaten them with tomahawk and spear, but Mel says…
Na, na, seit nicht meshugge. (No, no, don’t be crazy.)
Then comes Mel’s famous yell, which I always thought was a call to prayer or something, but it’s not that…
Los’ im gehen!! (Let them go!) Cop a walk, it’s alright!
They say thank you and start to move out.
A wie Gesund! (Take care…literally stay healthy.) Take off.
Hast du gesehen in deine Leben? (Have you ever seen anything like that in your life?)
They darker then us! Woof!
And you know, to this day Woof! is part of my daily vocabulary…so that’s where I got it from…
Now Lassen ihn gehen as I said means literally “let them go.” Pronounced “loz im gain” or sometimes by Gentiles “lossum game.” It’s carny slang, and it means: quit fleecing the rube, cut the game short, that’s the Sheriff’s son, what are you nuts? In general, people wouldn’t know what it meant, but there’s an old story told about it being said, and the mark, who was Jewish, saying, “Hell, why didn’t you lossum gain me $50 bucks ago!”
Speaking of Blazing Saddles…here’s a hair-raising story, with all due respect to horse-lovers everywhere. Apparently Sid Caesar, beside being sidesplittingly funny, was also a rather violent person. According to his 1982 autobiography, he was once trail-riding with his wife and her horse was giving her trouble. He claims he punched the horse between the eyes and knocked it out cold. This was when he was on TV in Your Show of Shows…and since Mel Brooks was one of the writers, it seems likely that’s where he got it for this Mongo scene, nez pah?
shameless plugs, doing the French Mistake…
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