Review: In memoir, it’s good to be comedy king Mel Brooks

Review: In memoir, it’s good to be comedy king Mel Brooks
Review: In memoir, it’s good to be comedy king Mel Brooks


Funnyman Mel Brooks leaves no doubt in his new memoir “All About Me!”

“All About Me! My Impressive Lifestyle in Present Business” by Mel Brooks (Ballantine)

Bagels and Nova Scotia lox for the producing team’s breakfast though punching up the script for “Blazing Saddles.” Earl Gray tea and English digestive biscuits whilst developing Gene Wilder’s concept for “Young Frankenstein.” Cottage cheese topped with fruit whilst hashing out however a further writer’s pitch for “Silent Film.”

In his new memoir “All About Me!” the unmatched self-promoter, now 95, generously shares the credit… most of the time. Seem elsewhere to hear a unique side of the Mel Brooks tale — some of his collaborators have grumbled about being elbowed apart as he grabbed all the glory he could. The very same goes for his individual daily life — his 1st marriage is hardly noted in spite of three youngsters and decades of litigation — and everything else that may possibly forged a shadow on the beloved funny male.

As advertised, “All About Me!” is a narrowly concentrated celebration of a inadequate Jewish child who grew up from Brooklyn avenue corner jokester to develop into synonymous with hearty laughter and naughty chuckles. It is a remarkably light remembrance from a comedian known for mocking anything regarded as sacred in The united states.

The enjoyment planet was an escape for Melvin Kaminsky, the youngest of four brothers whose father died when Melvin was 2 and whose mother labored challenging to get plenty of pennies for a film ticket. His stint at a Catskills resort as a clownish teenager (contrasted with harrowing months defusing bombs in the wake of the the Struggle of the Bulge) followed by a postwar Army assignment to an profession amusement unit served make his heavenly desire more earthbound.

Brooks refined his talent for comedy for the duration of his 1st major split, composing for Sid Caesar’s “Your Demonstrate of Shows” and “Caesar’s Hour” series throughout TV’s Golden Age. Lean decades adopted, but Brooks retained at it, many thanks to his “2,000-Calendar year-Outdated Man” plan with Carl Reiner, co-making TV’s “Get Smart” and producing and directing his to start with film, “The Producers” (1968), which he tailored many years later on into a Broadway juggernaut.

Alongside the way Brooks achieved the likes of Cary Grant (debonair but dull), John Wayne (he assumed the script for “Blazing Saddles” was hilarious but far too soiled for an physical appearance by America’s Favourite Cowboy) and Alfred Hitchcock (the Master of Suspense retained Brooks hanging on whether he considered ”High Anxiety” was insult or homage — he finally despatched a notice with a situation of fine wine). And there was actress Anne Bancroft. Her not likely attraction to Brooks’ off-kilter personality resulted in that exceptional Hollywood generation, a durable marriage.

To keep away from confusing ticket-customers, Brooks stored his title off his creation company’s non-comedies “The Elephant Man,” “Frances,” “The Fly” and other top-notch movies. His all-too-quick discussions about the small business facet of the motion picture business enterprise — he demanded overseas legal rights to his afterwards photos and was rewarded with extra money than he gained domestically — are welcome asides.

Anybody searching for introspection will be unhappy. Although Brooks celebrates his status for “dangerous” comedy, he’s having no chances with today’s warm subject areas. Appear in other places for Brooks to muse about no matter whether “Blazing Saddles” with its liberal use of the N-word would survive in our politically proper culture (no, he has said). Reconsidering the misogyny and homophobia that had been aspect of his generation’s comedy canon just isn’t on the menu.

Indeed, as well significantly of “All About Me!” is self-congratulatory — if Brooks isn’t praising himself, he quotations other individuals praising him — and, certainly, recounting plots and casts for his movies will come off as superficial. His memoir will work most effective, which is extra typically than not, as a appear back in laughter from a person who isn’t by way of hoping to make us gasp for breath.


Douglass K. Daniel is the creator of “Anne Bancroft: A Life” (University Push of Kentucky).


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