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The Incredible Mel Brooks: An Irresistible Collection Of Unhinged Comedy

> > Nov 15 2012

The Incredible Mel Brooks: An Irresistible Collection Of Unhinged Comedy
By Kevin ScottIt's hard to imagine a better introduction to comedy legend Mel Brooks than this exhaustively comprehensive collection of short films, retrospective documentaries, musical performances and TV appearances, spanning a whopping five DVDs and one CD. With new interviews with Brooks and his many collaborators over the years, it paints a picture of a man that has spent decades making people laugh and continues to do so today, even into his 80s. From his big break with Sid Caesar on Your Show of Shows to a dissection of his classic films, like Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein, there's much to be discussed. A short doc on his time with Caesar reveals what may have been one of the most talented writers' rooms ever assembled, with Carl Reiner, Neil Simon and a very young Woody Allen just a few of the names providing material. For fans of one of the funniest comedy routines ever performed, "The 2,000 Year Old Man," much time is devoted to its various incarnations, with Reiner and Brooks discussing its genesis and development. There is an emphasis on television contributions, with episodes of shows co-created by Brooks (When Things Were Rotten and Get Smart) included with introductions explaining how they came about. Some of the comedian's best work was done in his many appearances on talk and variety shows, with an old appearance on Dick Cavett juxtaposed nicely with a recent reunion show, both showcasing the light rapport the pair naturally possessed. About the only things missing from the incredible wealth of content, both old and new, are his feature films, though clips from these, illuminated by Brooks's commentary, provide an interesting peek behind the curtain of his canon. One of the prevailing messages embedded in all of this is how respected and genuinely liked Brooks has been for so long. Whether it's watching him sing and dance in Polish with long-time wife Anne Bancroft, the affection exuded in his conversations with best friend Reiner or the kind words at his Hollywood Walk of Fame induction by son Max (author of World War Z), it's obvious his vulgar brand of humour isn't rooted in any mean spirit. The collection's accompanying booklet opens with a quote from Brooks: "Comedy blows the dust off your soul." He's certainly cleaned many over his career.
(Shout! Factory)
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