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The 20 Funniest Quotes From Mel Brooks Movies


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Mel Brooks comes from a long line of Catskill stand-up comedians, many of whom jumped to careers as writers and performers on television in the 1950s. For Brooks, that meant a writing job working on Sid Caesar’s shows, then eventually helming his own series Get Smart, which began airing in 1965.

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Only two years later, Brooks went on to direct his first film, The Producers, which touched off a 30-year filmmaking career as a writer-director-actor. Brooks’ superpower was his unforgettable comedy dialogue, which brought the self-deprecating Jewish humor from his stand-up act directly to the screen.

When Blazing Saddles became Brooks’ first major hit in 1974, his funniest lines became regularly-repeated at office water coolers, on schoolyards, and even made it into the speeches of heads-of-state. Brooks was brimming with shpilkes throughout the ’70s and ’80s, producing his most famous films, but some of his best lines also came from undersung comedies like Dracula: Dead and Loving It! and the inimitable Robin Hood: Men in Tightsin the ’90s.

Undeniably sharp and witty, here are the 20 funniest quotes from Mel Brooks’ films.

20 “She’s Nosferatu.” “She’s Italian?” — Dracula: Dead and Loving It

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Sony Pictures Releasing

Dracula: Dead and Loving It went over many heads upon its 1995 release, losing close to $20 million despite the incredible pairing of deadpan funnyman Leslie Nielsen and Mel Brooks’ stupendously stupid script. Unfortunately, it wasn’t exactly a big moment for vampire movies, slapstick comedies, or Nielsen himself — who’s never gotten his just due from younger generations.

The Origin of the Line

When Van Helsing (Brooks) explains that Mina Seward (Amy Yasbeck) suffers from the ghoulish affliction, Jonathan Harker (Steven Weber) mistakes “Nosferatu” for an Italian provenance. Seward essentially took over for Madeline Kahn in Brooks’ femme fatale roles, characterizing the hilarious, buxom boneheads that Kahn had earlier portrayed in Brooks’ films Young Frankenstein and History of the World, Part I.

19 “Why didn’t anybody tell me my a** was so big?!” — Spaceballs

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MGM/UA Communications Co.

Brooks always found a fitting role for himself in his movies — often one of the more reprehensible characters. In the case of Spaceballs, that was President Skroob, who suffers an unfortunate transporter accident that leaves him staring at his own ample derrière.

Poor Skroob Had Too Much Junk in the Trunk

Horrified, Skroob does what he usually does — blame one of his henchman for not informing him of his bubble butt. To be fair, it would take some serious cojones to tell your boss that his tushy was pushing the boundaries of his suit pants — especially given Skroob’s fascist air and wicked temper.

18 “Oh, allow me to introduce Nurse Diesel, my right-hand man… woman!” — High Anxiety

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20th Century Fox

Hands down one of the funniest comedy actresses of all time, Cloris Leachman had a penchant for characters of ill-repute that were more often than not shading somewhere between off-putting and utterly repulsive. Nurse Diesel was no exception in High Anxiety, donning a Nurse Ratched-like persona that was rough-and-tumble.

Cloris Leachman Pushed the Boundaries of Female Comedy in the ’70s

Don’t get it twisted, Leachman was actually something of a sex symbol in her day, but later in her career never shied away from playing self-deprecating roles to highly comedic effect. She became a mainstay for directors like Brooks and Rob Reiner throughout a largely underappreciated career.

17 “Ah, but the servant waits… while the master baits.” — History of the World, Part I

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20th Century Fox

Gregory Hines blessed the Mel Brooks comedy History of the World, Part I with one of his greatest movie performances. As the eunuch Josephus, Hines finds himself in a game of sexual cat-and-mouse with his mistress, Empress Nympho (Madeline Kahn).

Related: History of the World, Part I: Remembering the Cast

Why the Line Was Truly Tasteless But Hilarious

Kahn issues one of her many caste-based decrees to the comedically-uncastrated eunuch, who obliges her demands, lest he face a punishment no worse than the loss of his “member.” The wordplay is classic Mel Brooks — pun-ishing.

16 “We’re men (manly men) we’re men in tights! We roam around the forest looking for fights!” — Robin Hood: Men in Tights

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20th Century Fox

The musical portions of Brooks’ films were often his best moments as a writer, fashioning cuttingly-hilarious lyrics that lampooned many a previous film.

Brooks Always Used Musical Numbers to Delirious Effect

In the case of Robin Hood: Men in Tights, that meant some spandex-clad hilarity when Robin and his men sing in chorus to the benefit of the comedy’s exposition. Don’t let their effeminate attire fool you, these were truly manly men!

15 “Oh, you’re nuts! N-V-T-S nuts!” — History of the World, Part I

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20th Century Fox

Only Mel Brooks could reconstitute the Greek Alphabet as a comedic opportunity, doing so in The History of the World, Part I. Twisting and turning his way through Latin, English, and, naturally, the Yiddish language was always Brooks’ most savant-ageous quality, in this case using Ron Carey as Swiftus.

The Impetus for the Line

A look back at ancient times provided the diminutive comic with his greatest opportunity to poke fun at archaic languages and the uptight behavior of the proto-fascist Roman Empire. Schmucks! Who spells “Nuts” with a V, anyways?

14 “We didn’t land on Sherwood Forest, Sherwood Forest landed on us!” — Robin Hood: Men in Tights

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20th Century Fox

Long before he became the self-proclaimed stand-up comedy GOAT, Dave Chappelle combined Morgan Freeman’s all-knowing version of Azeem from Prince of Thieves with the recently-released Denzel Washington version of Malcolm X from Spike Lee’s unforgettable biopic. Leave it to Chappelle to glorify one of America’s greatest Civil Rights figures, while side-splittingly parodying him at the same time.

The Clothes Make the Man

All it took was Azeem’s keffiyeh and a pair of Sirmont glasses for Dave Chappelle to look like a Nation of Islam man during medieval times. Chappelle rose to the occasion, crafting a highly-insensitive character reminiscent of his highly-insensitive comedy act. Still, his Malcolm X speech inspired Robin’s men to heed the call of war against the Sherrif of Nottingham.

13 “The Lord Jehovah has given unto you these fifteen [drops tablet]… Oy. TEN! Ten commandments for all to obey!” — History of the World, Part I

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20th Century Fox

The modern tenets of Jewish humor were practically invented by luminaries like Brooks and his good buddies Carl Reiner and Norman Lear. Brooks took it all the way back to the Old Testament with this cackle-inducing scene from History of the World, Part I. When Moses descends from Mount Sinai with the 15 Commandments, he unfortunately makes the klutzy error of dropping one of the three tablets.

Why the Line and Bit Are Memorable

Lucky for us, it spared us 5 of Adonai’s basic instructions before leaving earth. Unfortunately, both Lear and Reiner have passed away in recent years (Lear at an impressive 101 years old). Though Brooks is about as old as Moses himself now — we’re guessing his career isn’t quite finished yet. And thankfully, Mel didn’t mention the burning bush!

12 “That’s my virgin alarm. It’s programmed to go off before you do.” — Spaceballs

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20th Century Fox

If The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel didn’t alert enough people to the intrepid genius of Joan Rivers, Spaceballs certainly did. As Dot Matrix, Rivers delivers some of the film’s funniest dialogue, as she’s given the unenviable task of looking after the incredibly-entitled Druish Princess, Vespa (Daphne Zuniga).

Related: These Are Some of the Funniest Sci-Fi TV Shows and Movies

Why We Miss The Brooks Comedy Era

When Vespa gets cozied up with Lonestar (Bill Pullman), they trigger Dot’s virgin alarm, designed to keep Vespa’s chastity intact at all costs. Ah, the ’80s — that glorious time when people weren’t so uptight about sexual humor.

11 “I see your Schwartz is as big as mine!” — Spaceballs

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20th Century Fox

Speaking of sexual humor, Spaceballs delivered one of its greatest lines, uttered during just about every adolescent lightsaber battle thereafter, when Dark Helmet (Rick Moranis) notices Lonestar’s saber measures up well against his own. Instead of “The Force,” Brooks’ space opera parody gave us “The Schwartz,” a decidedly more nebbish version of the Jedi Order’s magic power.

May the Schwartz Be With You

While the Schwartz is powerful — it does kind of sound like a niche Jewish dish, or a urologist you’d find at a clinic on Long Island. Nonetheless, Lonestar used his Schwartz to great effect, telekinetically acquiring a bottle of shaving cream to battle Dark Helmet when his saber goes limp.

10 “Shut up! I’m having a rhetorical conversation!” — The Producers

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Embassy Pictures

In retrospect, The Producers was pretty racy fare for 1967. Brooks’ first film barely turned a profit — perhaps because audiences weren’t quite ready to make light of WWII in the way Brooks was. In the film, Max Bialystock is a producer who, along with cohort Leo, hatches a plan to produce a “love letter to Hitler” on Broadway, after discovering that a failed production could net them a bigger profit than a hit.

Why Zero Mostel Was the Perfect Bialystock

Few actors could be more perfect for the role than Zero Mostel, who came from a New York theater background. Mostel encompassed all the kvetching necessary to sell his role as the down-and-out, wannabe producer.

9 “Now you see that evil will always triumph. Because good is dumb.” — Spaceballs

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20th Century Fox

Rick Moranis was on a serious hot streak in the 1980s after coming out of the Canadian comedy incubator known as SCTV. A three-year run saw him garner some of the greatest laughs in Ghostbusters, Little Shop of Horrors, then as the Napoleonic Dark Helmet in Spaceballs.

The Context of the Infamous Line

Helmet overcompensated for his shortcomings by donning his ridiculous costume, an homage to the slightly more formidable Darth Vader. Helmet delivers this line after kidnapping Princess Vespa and squaring off with the “Honest-to-God” Prince Lonestar, making his evil intentions as clear as day.

8 “Marry me and you will never have to take your clothes off again.” — Silent Movie

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20th Century Fox

One of Mel Brooks’ greater box-office successes, Silent Movie, was released to critical fanfare during America’s bicentennial year, as the entire country seemed suddenly nostalgic for the days of yore. For Brooks, that meant looking back towards the Silent Film Era, where he plays a producer who hatches an idea to produce a modern-day silent film.

Silent Movie Was an Extension of Blazing Saddles

Brooks found a niche within his historical pretenses, crafting comedies that spoke to his own anxiety about his heritage. In Silent Movie, that meant some tongue-in-cheek dialogue about the nature of marriage, a topical right-of-passage for any Jewish comic.

7 “Unlike some other Robin Hoods, I can speak with an English accent!” — Robin Hood: Men in Tights

Cary Elwes as Robin Hood in Robin Hood: Men in Tights
20th Century Fox

When Kevin Costner broke all rules of human decency by attempting to adopt a British accent in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Mel Brooks was left with no choice but to do his parody bidding with Robin Hood: Men in Tights, combining Errol Flynn’s proto-action movie Robin Hood with several thinly-veiled jabs at Costner’s star vehicle that came out a year earlier.

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves Was Asking For It

Did we mention the Costner film was set to the decidedly soft rock sounds of Bryan Adam? Yikes! The original film still managed to amass an absurd box-office take, making $390 million thanks to some ubiquitous marketing and Coster’s much-discussed and epically-awful attempt to drop a Locksley accent. Listen, we still love the Costner Robin Hood movie, if only as the inspiration of one of Brooks’ greatest musicals.

6 “I’m a Mog! Half-man, half-dog. I’m my own best friend!” — Spaceballs

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20th Century Fox

Sometimes at MovieWeb, we just sit around and imagine what John Candy’s next decade would have looked like had he not died tragically in his sleep at the too-young age of 43 in 1994. He shot to fame as a member of SCTV, then had arguably the most successful ’80s run of any comedy actor.

Spaceballs Solidified John Candy’s Legacy

That included his role as Barf in Spaceballs. As the film’s resident mog, Barf shows utter loyalty to his master, Lonestar, including by lugging Princess Vespa’s matching luggage up a physics-defying ladder to the rescuing Eagle 5. “Gimme some paw!”

5 “I was having… a day-mare.” — Dracula: Dead and Loving It

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20th Century Fox

So you’ve never seen Dracula: Dead and Loving It? Nobody’s perfect! Should you ever choose to correct your misled ways, you’ll discover one of Leslie Nielsen’s greatest/stupidest performances. Nielsen plays Count Dracula, who, in one scene, finds himself frolicking in the daylight.

Dracula + Daytime = Bad

Dracula is practically doffing hats during his first stroll al fresco, “Drinking vine und eating chicken” — before he’s suddenly set ablaze thanks to his nocturnal requirements as a vampire. Thankfully, he was only having a “day-mare.”

4 “It’s good to be the king.” — History of the World, Part I

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20th Century Fox

Apparently, Louis XVI was the Bill Clinton of his day — as Mel Brooks lampoons the French king’s lust for… the finer things in life. That includes a beauty mark that looks like a Raisinette, and some creepy behavior towards the damsels in his court.

Brooks Saved His Least-Redeeming Roles for Himself

When there was a role in his films too unspeakable for struggling comedy actors, Brooks would fall on the grenade and heighten the character as much as possible. That included the highly disrespectful Louis XVI, a role tailor-made for his brand of humor.

3 “No sir, I didn’t see you playing with your dolls again!” — Spaceballs

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20th Century Fox

If there’s one thing Dark Helmet loves, it’s playing make-believe with his dollies while confined to his quarters. Unfortunately, Colonel Sandurz invades his play-station during a vulnerable moment, just when Helmet is leaning in for a fantasy kiss with Princess Leia — er… Vespa.

Spaceballs… A Tale of Unrequited Love

Spaceballs‘ intensity is ratcheted up a few notches when we witness Dark Helmet’s tender love for Vespa. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be — as even using the Schwartz can’t force Helmet’s love upon the unwanting and Kardashian-esque princess.

2 “How could this happen? I was so careful. I picked the wrong play, the wrong director, the wrong cast. Where did I go right?” — The Producers

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Sony Pictures Releasing

In the early-2000s, Mel Brooks adapted his original film The Producers into a Broadway musical. Unlike the original film, the musical was a smash hit, leading to another film adaptation in 2005, with stars Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick leading in both the stage and film version.

Nathan Lane Slotted Right Into the Bialystock Role

Lane gave an incredible turn as Max Bialystock in the musical film, delivering the film’s most famous lines with plenty of aplomb and theatricality. Alas, his play was a success.

1 “We ain’t found sh*t!” — Spaceballs

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20th Century Fox

After all these years, there is still one line repeated more than any other from the pantheon of Mel Brooks comedies. That came in Spaceballs, when, while combing the desert for Lonestar and Vespa (literally), the black Spaceball troopers (who are using an afro-pick) get grilled by a safari-fatigued Dark Helmet.

Why the Line Resounds

Responding to his boss’ impatient inquiries, the Spaceball Trooper (Tim Russ) proclaims “We ain’t found sh*t!” How this has become Brooks most oft-repeated line is generally a mystery, but a recent podcast appearance by Russ provided some insights, as despite his 7-season run on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, he explained that he’s still more recognized for this hilarious single line in Spaceballs.

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