At 96, Mel Brooks Is ‘Deliriously Happy’ to Still Be in the Game
As the saying goes, if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life — so Mel Brooks hasn’t been working for a very long time.
The 96-year-old comedy legend couldn’t possibly have anything left to prove at the tail-end of a career that’s spanned a staggering nine decades, but he’s still sticking with it for the love of the game. The first episode of his new series, History of the World, Part II, launched today on Hulu, and the show’s narrator and self-described “Jewish Advisor” is as excited as he’s ever been to make people laugh.
“There’s no greater payment for somebody in comedy than the audience breaking up,” explained Brooks, who presumably will get a percentage of laughs on the back end for the project.
When Nick Kroll began development on the 40-years-late sequel show to Brooks’ 1981 film History of the World, Part I, he brought in Wanda Sykes, Ike Barinholtz and David Stassen to help him honor an oft-forgotten classic — but Kroll needed the man himself to weigh in. Kroll invited Brooks to join the writers’ room via video chat, but Brooks had some immediate concerns, telling Variety, “It was a long-distance call, so I wanted to establish who was paying for it.”
Brooks was more than happy to help Kroll steer the ship on History of the World, Part II, calling himself “the Jewish advisor, ready to advise them on everything.” Brooks compared the collaboration process to his time on Sid Caesar’s Your Show of Shows many decades before his new writing partners had even been born. “I am deliriously happy to still be writing comedy, and every once in a while, hearing people laugh,” Brooks said of his experience working on the new series. “It’s just thrilling. There’s nothing like comedy. You don’t think about the time or throwing up or falling off the horse. You don’t think about bad things. You think about whether something is really funny and if it makes you laugh. It’s a bit of a miracle. I love it.”
Any 96-year-old artist would be excused for simply lending their name and a few minutes of narration to a new project, but Brooks isn’t just any 96-year-old artist. Brooks is comedy manifest, a living embodiment of the power of laughter that refuses to take a day off. Here’s to many, many more non-work days for comedy’s reigning king.