Suddenly, Mel Brooks is hot … again! At age 86, the writer/director of such comedy classics as The Producers, Blazing Saddles, and Young Frankenstein, is being honored all over the place. PBS featured him in an American Masters Broadcast which will also be released on DVD by Shout Factory. And he was recently honored by Twitter and Comedy Central. After witnessing all the hubbub, we thought, Hey, we want in on this, too! So we called Mel. He’s exactly what one would hope Mel Brooks would be: great company. He also told some good stories.
Mel’s worked with a lot of crazy people
The craziest was Sid Caesar, who I worked for on Your Show of Shows. One day, after a show in a Chicago nightclub, we go to his suite. He’s drinking vodka, smoking cigars, and he’s very unhappy with the way two or three jokes worked. Unfortunately, I wrote them, so… We clean up two of the jokes, but the third one we can’t fix. And he keeps drinking and smoking. Now it’s like three in the morning and the cigar smoke is suffocating me. I say, “Sid, I need air, I can’t breathe.” He says, “Air? You want air?” He throws open a window, grabs me by the collar. Grabs me by the seat of my pants, lifts me up, and dangles me out the window. I’m looking at the tops of taxi cabs going by. He yells, “Do you have enough air? Are you happy?!” And I shout back, “Oh, yeah, plenty, plenty!” He hauls me back in and we finish the last joke. I never complained again.
Sid teaches Mel a lesson:
Next: Then there was Gig Young in Blazing Saddles…