Sunday, September 11, 2011

Mel Brooks and Dick Cavett in Conversation - a Must See for Brooks and Reiner Fans


On October 7, 2010, Mel Brooks and Dick Cavett got together for an hour-long conversation at the Saban Theater in Los Angeles.  HBO is featuring this event this month, and we just finished watching the Friday night premiere that we recorded on our DVR.  If you are a fan of Mel Brooks (and Carl Reiner), this is a must see.

Why Carl Reiner?  Although he isn't on stage, about 10 minutes into the show, when a question comes up about the 2000 Year-Old-Man, an audience microphone is passed to him, and he just about steals the show with some very funny reminiscences about the origin of the famous sketch in 1950. 

As Brian Lowery wrote in his review of the show in Variety,
Guffawing through "Mel Brooks and Dick Cavett Together Again" -- a joint stage appearance by the pair, selectively edited down to a little under an hour -- you wonder why they don't do things like this more often. After all, nothing could be cheaper than taping such an event; all you need is two raconteurs as skilled as Brooks and Cavett, plus a cameo by Carl Reiner from the audience. Sit back, relax and savor a genuine treat infused with Hollywood nostalgia, riotous storytelling and only a few easily forgiven drops of mutual admiration.
Brooks, 84 when the spec was shot last year, and Cavett, 11 years his junior, own the stage and the audience from the moment they sit down. Exhibiting an obvious rapport born from a long association, they simply swap stories about great luminaries from the past, from Brooks' hilarious dinner with Alfred Hitchcock (to whom he paid tribute with "High Anxiety") to Cavett's limousine ride with Fred Astaire.
Throw in an anecdote about Chico Marx propositioning Tallulah Bankhead (punch line: "And so you shall, you old-fashioned boy"), George Burns insulting Jack Benny, a young Cavett seeing Bob Hope perform, Frank Sinatra refusing to croon "Springtime for Hitler," and you'll dine out on the stories for weeks.
Are they true or mostly apocryphal? Frankly, who cares?
The pair also devote considerable time -- with an assist from Reiner -- to recalling the genesis of "The 2,000 Year Old Man," the party joke/writers' room exercise Reiner and Brooks parlayed into one of the most famous comedy routines of all time. In that context, Brooks still displays a quickness and dexterity of wit that should instill men half his age with envy and which surpasses most of his films.
During the conversation, Brooks calls Cavett "an amazing gentile", and cracks up when Cavett calls "chopped up liver" a Jewish expression.  When telling of the decision to go ahead with the 2000 Year-Old-Man CD, Reiner says that he took an early copy to London to give to the queen mother in Buckingham Palace.  He says that he knew he had to proceed with the project when "the world's biggest shiksa" liked it.

Here are a few clips from the show, which will be repeated on HBO Cablevision tonight (Sunday) at 10 pm and Monday at 11 pm.  Enjoy!

(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS:  THE VIDEO IS NOT VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY.  YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)


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