Is there a secret to living well into your 90’s?
Iris Apfel, 95, Mel Brooks, 90, and Carl Reiner, 95, don’t quite have the answer for you — but they’re sure having a hell of a time doing it.
The three stars join on-screen legends Dick Van Dyke, Betty White, Kirk Douglas and Norman Lear, for the upcoming documentary “If You’re Not In The Obit, Eat Breakfast,” a celebration of life in your 90’s.
“I was inspired by Carl, Norman Lear and (the late) Betty Seinfeld,” the film’s producer George Shapiro told Deadline. “Jerry Seinfeld’s mom was so vivacious, and she was always having fun and laughing all the way into her 99th year. We have her in the documentary at the age of 97 dancing with her boyfriend, 92. She was 95 and he was 90 when they met. Dick Van Dyke is still dancing, and Mel Brooks is still touring. It’s all so amazing.”
The documentary, which will air on HBO June 5th, also features 101-year-old Ida Keeling, a track-and-field record breaker, and Tao Porchon-Lynch, a 98-year-old yoga teacher and tango dancer.
Watch the trailer below:
(JTA) — Mel Brooks and the late Gene Wilder — who collaborated in films such as “Blazing Saddles” and “Young Frankenstein” — had a famously decades-long friendship.
When Wilder passed away on Monday, Brooks was one of the first celebrities to offer a Twitter eulogy, calling him “one of the truly great talents of our time.”
Brooks got more specific on “The Tonight Show” Tuesday night, dishing to Jimmy Fallon about everything from how he met the fellow Jewish comedy legend to how Wilder cried when he saw the script for “The Producers.”
Brooks, who is 90 but still oozes energy and a manic sense of humor — for example, he interrupted the interview at one point to stand up and mock Hitler’s mustache using a hair comb — told Wilder about the idea for “The Producers” before he had the financial backing to follow through with it.
“He said…‘You’re doing a play about two Jews who are producing a flop instead of a hit, knowing they can make more money with a flop, and the big number in it is “Springtime for Hitler.” Yeah, you’re going to get the money,’” Brooks said, noting Wilder’s sarcasm.
When Brooks finally did secure the money for the movie, he surprised Wilder in his dressing room, where he was preparing to act in a play, with a copy of the script. Instead of laughing this time, Wilder broke down in tears of joy.
Watch the full clip, which includes more touching Brooks and Wilder stories, above.
Not that it should come as any surprise, but Vulture’s recent list of “The 100 Jokes That Shaped Modern Comedy” merely affirms the widespread assumption that much if not most of what passes for contemporary humor was and remains directly or indirectly forged out of the tragicomedy of Jewish culture. With roots going back to the Old World badkhns through Yiddish vaudeville and Catskills tummlers, today’s comedy is Jewish through and through.
Vulture’s list affirms this. By my count, fully half of the jokes on the list were written and/or delivered by Jewish writers and comics (well, actually, 48 out of 100, but I’m rounding up). Present on the list are of course all the usual suspects, including the Marx Brothers, Milton Berle, Lenny Bruce, Mel Brooks, Woody Allen, Jerry Seinfeld, Sarah Silverman, and Amy Schumer.
The list includes classic routines, lines, or sketches by George Burns (Nathan Birnbaum), Jack Benny (Benjamin Kubelsky), Henny Youngman (Henry Yungman), Jean Carroll (Celine Zeigman), Sid Caesar, Mort Sahl, Nichols and May, Don Rickles, Rodney Dangerfield (Jacob Rodney Cohen), David Brenner, Albert Brooks, Elayne Boosler, Andy Kaufman, Billy Crystal, Joan Rivers, Ben Stiller, Jon Stewart, Andy Samberg, Judd Apatow, and Lena Dunham.
The list also includes a few surprises. For example, the article highlights dialogue from Frank Capra’s screwball comedy, “It Happened One Night,” starring Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable, whose “smart, sexy sensibility” Vulture credits with influencing “a host of other lightly bawdy screwballs and … would-be paramours, from Moonlighting’s David and Maddie to Archer and Lana from Archer.”
As with most of Capra’s films of the 1930s, the dialogue was written by Robert Riskin, a Yiddish-speaking native of the Lower East Side who worked on 14 films with Capra, whose signature protagonists were more a product of Riskin’s leftist sensibility than Capra’s own right-wing ideology. The productive partnership collapsed by the end of the decade due precisely to those political differences, as well as to Riskin’s sense that Capra devalued his creative contribution to their collaboration, famously brandishing 120 blank pages in Capra’s face and saying, “Put the famous Capra touch on that!”
Another famous and perhaps unlikely comedic moment occurred when comedian Ed Ames made one of his frequent appearances on Johnny Carson’s “Tonight” show. This time out, the sketch called for Ames to demonstrate for Carson his newfound skill tossing a tomahawk. Ames threw the weapon at an outline of a cowboy, where it landed — presumably unintentionally — right between the unfortunate cowboy’s legs.
After a long pause for voluminous laughter on the part of the audience, Ames, and Carson, the host improvisationally quipped, “I didn’t even know you were Jewish.” In fact, Ames – born Edmund Dantes Urick to Russian immigrants outside of Boston – was indeed Jewish, which presumably neither Carson nor the audience knew.
Watch the video of the hilarious moment here:
Seth Rogovoy is a frequent contributor the Forward’s arts section.
Among the many iconic lines from Mel Brooks’ “Young Frankenstein,” (“Walk this way;” “Would you like to roll in the hay;” “Frau Blucher”) one always stands out for me. It’s the one spoken by Dr. Frederick Frankenstein when, upon meeting his assistant Igor for the first time, he corrects his pronunciation. The exchange goes as follows:
IGOR: “Dr. Frankenstein.”
IGOR: “You’re putting me on.”
FRANKENSTEIN: “No it’s pronounced Frankensteen.” etc, etc.
Here’s the clip, just for kicks:
Now, compare that to the back-and-forth repartee which takes place about halfway through the trailer for “Victor Frankenstein,” the latest iteration of Mary Shelley’s monster to hit the big screen.
POSSIBLE LOVE INTEREST/ PRETTY LADY: “Are you not afraid to challenge the natural order, M. Frankensteen?”
FRANKENSTEIN (played by James McAvoy): “No. And it’s Frankenstein.”
The new film promises to be a whole new take on the Frankenstein story, but if that’s not a wink to Mel Brooks’ movie, I don’t know what is.
In other MOT news, notice Daniel Radcliffe, cast as a very straight-backed Igor, last name “Strausman.” Mel Brooks jokes and a very possibly Jewish Igor? I’m in.
“Who knows? God willing, we’ll all meet again in Spaceballs 2: The Search for More Money.”
Sadly for Yoghurt, the Yoda-spoof of Mel Brooks’ “Spaceballs” (1986), there was no Spaceballs 2, but the quest for money lives on!
Introducing the “Spaceballs” Lego set submitted to Lego’s “Ideas” crowd sourced suggestion platform. User NvdK offered the concept for Lego versions of Lonestar’s space-Winnebago, the “Eagle 5” or “Spaceball 1” battleship. Does this sound appealing? Vote here.
The Eagle 5 set will include Captain Lone Starr and his Schwartz-saber.
Spaceball 1 fans will have access to two Spaceball soldiers. “WE BREAK FOR NOBODY.” bumper sticker included, of course.
After all, as Yoghurt wisely pointed out: “Merchandising, merchandising, where the real money from the movie is made. Spaceballs-the T-shirt, Spaceballs-the Coloring Book, Spaceballs-the Lunch box, Spaceballs-the Breakfast Cereal, Spaceballs-the Flame Thrower!”
May the Schwartz be with you (and the necessary crowd funding).
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