There's a dazzling moment with the antagonists of Mel Brooks' comedy classic Blazing Saddles wherein the always-excellent Slim Whitman suggests killing "the first born male child in every household" in order to permit the bad guys to prevail. To this, the great Harvey Korman to deliver the line "Too Jewish" - a line many a magnificent comedic writer has heard in his or her attempts to get a laugh from their audience. One such talent is the one and only Rick Moranis (yes, he's still alive), who stresses in the liner notes of his new album, My Mother's Brisket & Other Love Songs that it was a phrase commonly uttered between he and his colleagues during their earlier days in the business.
But in this instance, the now-retired Mr. Moranis - the comedic film and television legend who helped bring the word "hoser" into the national lexicon in the '80s along with his former SCTV writing partner, Dave Thomas - isn't particularly worries about that. In fact, he seems to have taken this golden opportunity to one-up his former Spaceballs director/co-star Mel Brooks with the aforementioned new album - his first venture into the world of music in eight years. For My Mother's Brisket & Other Love Songs, Moranis (who retired from acting 16 years ago) takes us on a plight into those things that become more important to a fellow in his '60s such as food, faith, family, and forlornness. The tracks vary from folk to jazz, and are all infused with a distinctive Jewish musical vibe.
We begin with "I'm Old Enough to Be Your Zaide," wherein the reclusive comedian croons to a younger suitress: "We're not on the same page / So darling act your age / You're digital and I'm still Beta / I'm old enough to be your Zaide."
As an obsessive Betamax collector and one who is prone to attracting younger individuals, I simply cannot argue with that.
Additional highlights from this relentless comedic assault of Jewish humor include "My Wednesday Balabusta," an ode to the cleaning lady; "My Mother's Brisket," a cleverly-penned ditty about a matriarch's kitchen specialty that you absolutely must force all of your Freudian friends to listen to; "I Can't Help It, I Just Like Christmas," a country-esque (but still quite Jewish) nod to us goyim folk; "The Seven Days of Shiva," which truly must be heard to be believed; "Kiss My Mezuzah" ("Just throw all your things on the bench / Blessed are you, and oh yeah, me too / You're in the home of a mensch"); "Asian Confusion," a track about ordering out (for food); and "Oy, The Mistakes I Made" - a song that could very well become my official theme song any day now.
The album's official track listing is as follows:
1. "I'm Old Enough To Be Your Zaide"
2. "My Wednesday Balabusta"
3. "Live Blogging The Himel Family Bris"
4. "My Mother's Brisket"
5. "Belated Haftorah"
8. "Wiggle Room"
9. "I Can't Help It, I Just Like Christmas"
10. "The Seven Days Of Shiva"
11. "Kiss My Mezuzah"
12. "Asian Confusion"
13. "Oy, The Mistakes I Made"
My Mother's Brisket & Other Love Songs is available at kosher outlets everywhere, such as rickmoranis.com, where you can download a digital copy of the album, or go all traditional-like with items such as The Deluxe Pack - which comes with an inscribed celebratory yarmulke. Seriously.
Too Jewish? Perhaps - especially in today's oh-so-sensitive world of political correctness. But, since Mel Brooks has all-but-retired from filmmaking on account of an advance onset of old age, and since Allan Sherman hasn't been cranking out any records lately on account of an advance onset of precipitated death in the '70s, somebody might as well take a crack at making cracks of this nature. And besides, as the album's chief project rabbi Paul Perlove is said to have uttered in the liner notes: "The Jews have been through much worse."
And anything that gets Rick Moranis - who has been a hero of mine since childhood - out into the limelight is A-OK in my book, to wit I proudly exclaim to him: "Mazel tov, you hoser!"