Sunday 17 November 2019

Mel Brooks: Everything is fine for comedy, apart from gas chambers

The comedy legend has revealed the line he would never cross.

Mel Brooks
Mel Brooks

By Lucy Mapstone, Press Association Deputy Entertainment Editor

Veteran Hollywood comedian Mel Brooks has said he can find comedy in almost everything, but that he would never use “gas chambers” or the death of the Jews in the Second World War for humour.

The producer and director, known for his plethora of acclaimed comedy movies, added he believes “we have become stupidly politically correct” as a society.

He said many of his films – including 1974 comedy western Blazing Saddles, which satirised racism – could not be made today.

Mel Brooks

Brooks told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme when asked if there was anything he would not parody: “I personally would never touch gas chambers or the death of children or Jews at the hands of the Nazis.

“Everything else is OK – naked people? Fine. I like naked people, they’re usually the most polite.”

He said he thinks his 1974 comedy musical Young Frankenstein is among the few of his films that could be made now.

“We have become stupidly politically correct, which is the death of comedy,” Brooks said.

“It’s not good for comedy. Comedy has to walk a thin line, take risks.

“Comedy is the lecherous little elf whispering in the king’s ear, always telling the truth about human behaviour.”

Brooks said he knew he was funny from a very young age, adding: “People would peer down into my crib and laugh.

“And I said, ‘this is good, funny is money’. Somehow I put it together right.”

Brooks has turned Young Frankenstein into a West End stage show, starring comedian Ross Noble and Birds Of A Feather actress Lesley Joseph, and revealed his hopes for the same with Blazing Saddles.

Among his many credits, Brooks – whose directorial debut The Producers won him an Oscar for best original screenplay – is one of only 12 people to have scooped an Emmy, a Grammy, an Academy Award and a Tony.

But he joked that he would like to be remembered for something else – for being taller than he is.

Brooks said: “I don’t want to be remembered as me, because I’m too short.

“Age has cut me down to 5ft 5 and a half, 5ft 6 and a half. I would like to be remembered as 6ft 2.”

PA Media

Also in this section