History of Mel Brooks

History of Mel Brooks
Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP

In the 1940s, when Mel Brooks launched himself into comedy, he invented a persona: “Crazy Mel.” Perhaps you remember Crazy Mel: He was exuberant, reckless, loud—a wild, comedic id. Carson loved him. So did his audience. When Crazy Mel wasn’t vamping on TV, he was mugging in photos, including one gloriously zany shot in which he appears wild-eyed and open-mouthed, like a zoo animal hit with a tranquilizer dart. Silently, he conveys shock, fear, and aggression. “Tragedy is when I cut my finger,” Brooks once said. “Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die.”

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