“Piss on you, I’m working for Mel Brooks!”

So goes Slim Pickens’ most self-aware line in Blazing Saddles, the singularly flawless Western farce by Mel Brooks that could make a strong run for the best comedy ever set to film.

It’s a film with so many best parts that to list them is futile, yet recounting the comic highlights is fun nonetheless. There’s another Pickens gem, when his posse is faced with a tollbooth in the middle of the desert: “Somebody’s gotta go back and get a shitload of dimes!”

There’s the introduction between our two heroes, Cleavon Little as African-American Sheriff Bart and Gene Wilder as the once-great Waco Kid, whom most people call Jim.

“Are we awake?” Bart says to the upside-down drunkard.

“We’re not sure,” Wilder replies, perplexed. “Are we black?”

And of course there’s Madeline Kahn, whose show-stopping “I’m Tired” could rival Network‘s Beatrice Straight for best performance in the shortest time (Straight won a best supporting actress Oscar for her five minutes, 40 seconds of screentime).

But what makes the film a masterpiece is Brooks, who, aside from his roles as a bumbling, oversexed governor and a Yiddish-speaking Sioux chief, co-wrote and directed the greatest 93 minutes of entertainment ever produced.

And it was Brooks who brought a near-capacity crowd to the Kennedy Center on Saturday night for a Saddles screening and onstage conversation with the man himself.

A lackluster interviewer who barely got a word in edgewise began by questioning whether Blazing Saddles — with its propensity for profanity and slew of racial slurs — could be made today. Then again, he said, it couldn’t have been made in 1974 but for Brooks.

Brooks, barely sitting as he took the mic in hand like a standup comic, ran with it. He told stories of casting the leads, from asking Madeline Kahn to show off her legs (“Oh, this is that kind of audition,” he said she remarked) to shopping around for a Richard Pryor replacement the studio could insure.

He told tales of the only scene that ever made Harvey Korman break (it was from History of the World: Part I, Brooks told Korman’s daughter, who was present) and of how exactly the sounds of Blazing Saddles‘ infamous bean scene were made.

During an audience Q-and-A session, he delved into his life before Blazing Saddles, from the near-zero financial success of The Producers and The Twelve Chairs to the time when, as a toddler, he peed out his Brooklyn window (and onto his mother, who was sitting on the stoop).

Responding to a Twitter question from a gentleman sitting in my parterre box, Brooks told animated stories of his time as an Army minesweeper during World War II. He discussed his years as a Borscht Belt comic and recounted a famous story of one exceptionally explicit Cleavon Little line that was left on the cutting-room floor.

And while some of the stories were old ones, like Blazing Saddles, they bear a sixth, seventh or 105th retelling. While there were literally no seats behind me in the concert hall, Brooks’ face seemed not a far-off speck but an old friend telling knee-slappers from across the living room.

Brooks — whether in films or in person — has the unique capacity to command a room, no matter if it’s a cavernous hall at the nation’s stage or a little resort in the Catskills.