A Lesson From Mel Brooks

“Those who are creating humor and parody claim specific common experiences with those who are laughing at the joke.”

(Jenkins, Ford, and Green)

Yes, Mel Brooks, a man that everyone should definitely know at some point in their lives. For me, I was introduced very early with Young Frankenstein, which made it to my top childhood comedy influences in film. Although I love Mel Brooks with all my heart and consider him to be a genius and one of the greatest writers and directors out there, some people don’t appreciate his work. Why is that?

A lot of people don’t like the sense of parody in film, the idea that a film is mocking one thing or another. However, if I could play devil’s advocate for a moment, I would like to go against those that say that. Are there bad parody movies? Oooooh yes, and I’m sure we all can name a handful of ones we’d like to lock away forever. In Brooks’ terms though, a parody is a work of art. Parodies allow us to let loose for a brief moment, get us laughing, while also reflecting on what the movie is parodying. Young Frankenstein? Mary Shelley’s classic novel. Spaceballs? Star Wars. Blazing Saddles? Westerns and the culture surrounding them.

Blazing Saddles is always the one to get the controversy. Even Mel Brooks claims it would never get released in today’s society. Yes, the language is crude and inappropriate at times, but I would argue that Brooks’ writing and directing help us reflect on how African Americans were treated and how they still are treated in the country, and this all happens as he makes us laugh hysterically. It’s genius. To use humor in order to have those reflect on themselves and the behavior of others. All from a parody. Mr. Brooks is and will always remain a hero of mine. His decades of making people laugh are ones that I can only dream of being able to have as well.

“Life literally abounds in comedy if you just look around.”

-Mel Brooks

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