Creator / Mel Brooks

"Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die."

Melvin James "Mel" Brooks (born June 28, 1926) is probably one of the funniest men in Hollywood, and Broadway, and life in general.

Co-creator of the James Bond parody series Get Smart (with Buck Henry), and producer and director of many fine films — most of them affectionate parodies — such as Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, The Producers, The Twelve Chairs, Silent Movie, High Anxiety, History of the World Part I, To Be or Not to Be, Spaceballs, Dracula: Dead and Loving It, and Robin Hood: Men in Tights.

Notably, Blazing Saddles, The Producers and Young Frankenstein occupy spots 6, 11 and 13 on the AFI's list of the 100 best comedies of the last 100 years. Did we mention that he's really funny?

He also produced David Lynch's drama The Elephant Man and David Cronenberg's The Fly (1986) but removed his name because he didn't want people to think they were comedies.

His record as writer, producer and comedian has resulted in him being one of the fourteen people to be an EGOT (An Emmy (4 of them), a Grammy (3 of them), an Oscar, and a Tony (3 of them)), the top awards of television, music, film, and theater, respectively), as well as receiving a lifetime achievement award from the AFI.

In the new millennium, he co-wrote and produced successful musical versions of The Producers and Young Frankenstein for Broadway. Following the success of The Producers, he and Anne Bancroft appeared as themselves on Curb Your Enthusiasm, intent on casting Larry David and David Schwimmer in the show in the hope that they'll kill the show and they won't have to bother with it. In other words, it's a Springtime for Hitler. Of course, like all Springtime for Hitler schemes, it fails.

Brooks is responsible for launching and boosting the careers of many comedians. It was he who gave Dave Chappelle his first credited role.

He also rapped as Hitler once. In an interview for 60 Minutes, he stated that his life's goal was to reduce Hitler to a figure of such ridiculousness that no-one would ever take his ideas seriously again. (If the numerous Tonys that The Producers won are any indication, it's working.) Being both Jewish and a World War II veteran, if anyone has N-Word Privileges to joke about Adolf Hitler it's him.

He met Anne Bancroft on a talk show and then bribed a woman in order to create a Meet Cute with her. Proving that being Genre Savvy has its perks, he was somehow able to convince Mrs. Robinson to become Mrs. Brooks. Their union resulted in Max Brooks, probably one of the foremost experts on how to repel and survive the oncoming Zombie Apocalypse. He has three other children from his first marriage to Florence Baum, which only lasted a few years. He attributes this to both of them being too young to know what they were getting into, and they've remained on good terms in all the decades since.

If you were a kid at The Turn of the Millennium, you probably know him best as the voice of Wiley the Sheep on Jakers! The Adventures of Piggley Winks.

And lastly, he is a retired badass World War II vet who used to defuse Nazi landmines for the Allied Forces. Then at the Battle of the Bulge, when the Nazis set up loud speakers to play Fascist Propaganda at the Allies, Brooks set up his own loud speakers and played the works of Jewish musical artist Al Jolson right back at them. He was making fun of Nazis back when they were still relevant ...and lived. It's good to be the king, indeed.

Films of note:

Tropes named by his works:

Tropes associated with his works:

  • Actor Allusion: invokedSeveral of his movies make references to Mel, both as the actor and the director. Most notably, Adolf Hitler in To Be Or Not To Be is introduced in Bronski's play by saying "Heil Myself!".
    • Though that was also a joke in the original film. Its being used again in the Broadway production is a definite allusion, though.
  • Adolf Hitlarious: A life goal of Mel Brooks is reducing Hitler to a punchline.
  • Affectionate Parody: A consummate master of this. He once stated that making fun of a bad movie is easy, but making fun of a good movie is a challenge.
  • Anachronism Stew: He had a tendency to blend the time frame of his works. Blazing Saddles is supposed to be a parody of Westerns, but it ends up the characters running around a movie studio.
  • Arch-Enemy: Adolf Hitler. Brooks' drive in life is to mock Hitler and the Nazis so much that their ideas can't be taken seriously ever again. It's fair to say it's working.
  • Big Bad: A supervillain who makes a fool out of himself is usually present.
  • Black Comedy: His films have made jokes of things like war, execution, terrible history, and even Hitler.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Frequently. Blazing Saddles spends its entire final act with the fourth wall broken, as the characters break out of their own movie to trash a sound stage and movie theater.
  • Casting Gag: invokedFamous mime Marcel Marceau in Silent Movie is ironically the only character to ever speak a word.
  • Creator Cameo: Brooks has at least a cameo in most of his movies, but will sometimes a bigger part. He played the racist governor in Blazing Saddles, and in History of the World: Part I, he played a leading role in a few of the sketches.
  • Double Entendre: Whether it's through Punny Names or incredibly suggestive dialogue, expect a little raunch thrown in.
  • Dumb Blonde: Chances are, if there's a love interest for the male lead in his movies, she'll be blonde, and a complete moron.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: His first two films, The Producers and The Twelve Chairs, are much more low key and are closer to Black Comedy than the parodies he'd later be famous for.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Granted, there's quite a bit that's clearly meant for adults, but a lot of the really suggestive stuff still gets left in from time to time if it slips by the censors.
  • Gratuitous German: Usually spoken by large women.
  • Hurricane of Euphemisms: If Mel Brooks can find a way to make a Visual Pun, rest assured, he'll do it. And the characters in his works will most certainly point it out.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: Not that the characters in his movies think very much of them, but that's never stopped him.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: Expect a cheery sing-and-dance number to show up in less-than-cheery circumstances.
  • N-Word Privileges: Jokes about Jews and the Nazis that would probably be offensive coming from non-Jews are common in his work. On the other hand, there's Blazing Saddles, in which he deliberately overused the N-word (which was always either used in a friendly manner by black characters or in a racist manner by stupid, racist white characters) so much in an attempt to make it less offensive. (Note that while a lot of people assume Richard Pryor wrote those parts of the film, Brooks himself claims he wrote most of them).
  • Overused Running Gag: Very often. The pronunciation of "Hedley Lamarr" from Blazing Saddles and Frau Blucher's name accompanied by a horse's whinny in Young Frankenstein come to mind.
  • Production Posse: invokedA vast majority of his movies had starred not only Mel himself, but Madeline Khan, Gene Wilder (who came up for the original idea of Young Frankenstein), Harvey Korman, and Dom De Luise.
  • Reference Overdosed: Part of his style in parodying a movie or genre is referencing lots of other works in the same genre. Blazing Saddles parodied a lot of conventions of the Western genre, while Robin Hood: Men in Tights references a lot of other Robin Hood movies.
  • Running Gag: All over the place, but a notable one is making some sort of reference to a previous film (such as the Mr. Rental in Spaceballs having copies of every Mel Brooks film released up to that point). Another, particularly in later films, is plugging fake sequels to the movie currently being watched.
    • "Walk this way" is particularly popular, thanks to the numerous spins that can be put on it.
  • Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer: A variation. Mel Brooks was the executive producer of The Elephant Man and deliberately kept his name off the film, for fear people would expect it to be a comedy. He did the same with The Fly (1986). However, in the latter case when it failed, he attended the premiere and handed out toy antennae.
  • Slapstick: Expect the characters in his works to take all kinds of comical physical abuse, all of it played for laughs.
  • Soul Brotha: African-American characters tended to have at least a little bit of this in his comedies.
  • Space Jews: Near the end of History of the World Part I.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: He made it a point to make them as "wacky" as humanly possible. Brooks has stated that it was a lifetime goal to reduce Adolf Hitler, in particular, to nothing but a punchline.
  • Unexplained Accent: Most of the characters in his movies don't even bother with putting on accurate accents. It makes the few characters that do speak that way stand out far more.
  • Visual Pun: My goodness! A shameless user. Radar, about to be JAMMED!