Mel Brooks: Make a Noise
Actor/Director/Writer Mel Brooks speaks onstage during the PBS panel for ‘AMERICAN MASTERS “Mel Brooks: Make a Noise” ‘ of the 2013 Winter Television Critics Association Press Tour at the Langham Huntington Hotel & Spa on January 14, 2013 in Pasadena, California.
(Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images North America)
By Lisa Marchbanks
Pasadean, CA (Hollywood Today
) 5/20/13 – In a recent interview with Hollywood Today and other reporters American Masters producer Susan Lacy, director Robert Trachtenberg and comedy great Mel Brooks discussed the new documentary American Masters Mel Brooks: Make a Noise.
Susan Lacy described Mel as a“…comedy giant and a 60-year showbiz veteran who has won more major awards than any other living entertainer. He’s a Kennedy Center honoree and one of a small, elite group of EGOT winners, people who won an Emmy, Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony.” Brooks chimes in quickly, “I’m not such a comedy giant. I’m five six. There are guys not as funny, but they are bigger, and I think that counts.” This new career-spanning documentary features interviews with Brooks, Matthew Broderick, Nathan Lane, Cloris Leachman, Carl Reiner, Joan Rivers, Tracey Ullman, and many others.
Brooks discussing his early childhood explained, “I said to myself, ‘one day I’m going to have a Broadway show! No factories for me, no driving in a cab, no working or renting bicycles. I’m going to write things that are in my soul, that are in my heart and I’m going to be in show business. And I knew it. And I was going to enjoy my life and have fun and live that kind of life.’ And I did.” He goes on to say, “being rather bizarre looking and being rather short, I needed another tool so that I would be accepted. So then, I used comedy.” In the documentary, well-loved Hollywood director Rob Reiner discussed Mel’s craft, “Mel works best when he’s put in a corner. My father has a way of leading him to places that are so uncomfortable and awkward for him that it forces him to have to figure out a crazy funny way to get out of it. And Mel, I think, is his best when he’s with my dad.“
While interviewing Brooks in the documentary Robert Trachtenberg read to Brooks, “you said that your job is spotting the insane and bizarre in the commonplace.” Brooks, with surprised look on his face said, “Did I say that? That’s very good, very good. I’m proud of that. I don’t remember saying it but I’m glad I said it. Spotting the insane and bizarre in the commonplace. I’d give myself a pat on the back for that.” He went on to say, “the difference between comedy and tragedy is: if you walk into an open sewer and die, to me it could be comedy. It didn’t happen to me, what do I care, who gives a shit? But tragedy is, if I cut my finger on a paper cut I’ll look at it for hours. What I think I’m trying to illustrate is the innate, incredible selfishness, the love for ourselves in every human being. We like other people. But, if we look in a mirror and we think about ourselves it’s a deep love. I’m head over heels in love with myself, I gotta tell you that. Every night before I go to bed I try to kiss myself. It’s hard. I’m going to stop for a minute and do it now. Oh you’re so cute, you’re so adorable,” as his kissed his hand and hugged his face with the palm of his hands. Mel Brooks balances his narcissism with comedy, “I gotta admit something though, I don’t really do
anything for the audience, ever. I always do it for me. And most of the time the audience joins me.”
Mel Brooks and Ann Bancroft were happily married for 40 years and had the opportunity to work with each other three times on camera before she died of uterine cancer in 2005. During an interview promoting one of their films To Be or Not To Be
she was asked, “what was it like to work in a movie with this person?” Ann said, “Well it was a lot like being pregnant. Some days were good and some days you feel like throwing up.”
Comedian Tracy Ullman discusses her part in Robin Hood: Men in Tights
, “Why would I not want to play that part, when you do a cameo called Latrine? You know? What a credit for me.” She goes on to describe her love of working with Brooks, “He just wants everyone to feel comfortable and to be as funny as they can be. There’s no angst when working with him, it’s just about things being funny and having positive energy. And there’s so many people that make the whole ‘being funny’ business miserable.”
David Geffen, record executive, film and theatrical producer persuaded Mel Brooks to turn his movie The Producers
into a stage musical. Brooks, at first, fought the idea but once he agreed The Producers
ended up winning a record-breaking 12 Tony Awards and it still holds the record for the most Tony Awards ever won by a single production. In Mel Brooks: Make a Noise
Tony Award winning actor Nathan Lane discussed a conversation he had with Ann Bancroft during the production of The Producers
on Broadway, “You know I can remember Ann coming over after some run through and her saying ‘thank you so much for what you’ve done for the show and for getting my husband out of the house.’ She said the greatest thing ever about him, ‘you know, we’re like any other couple, we’ve had our ups and downs’, but she said, ‘every time I hear the key in the door I know the party’s about to start.’’
In a promo for the American Masters
documentary Brooks says, “I think the American Masters
that Susan Lacy and Bob Trachtenberg did with me is about 73% really good. The rest is in the crapper. I hope they cut that out.” American Masters Mel Brooks: Make a Noise
airs May 20th at 9pm on PBS.