Mel Brooks talks to Conan O'Brien about his Jewish roots
Director tells comedian that growing up, he was sure that only Jews could be funny.
On the latest installment of “Serious Jibber-Jabber,” host Conan O’Brien welcomes Mel Brooks, whom he calls “one of the funniest men on earth.”
The web series, in which Conan “talks for a long time with interesting people,” is old school in that it is longer than 10 minutes, making it the perfect format for an old-school entertainer like Brooks, whose career spans over a number of decades and includes cultural treasures such as “Get Smart,” “Blazing Saddles,” “The Producers” and so much more.
The two sit down for over an hour and discuss everything from Richard Pryor to “Spaceballs” to growing up in Williamsburg, a neighborhood so Jewish “you take a wrong step and you step on a Jew,” Brooks joked.
Growing up in such an insulated community, Brooks was convinced comedy was a specifically Jewish medium, and that only Jews could be funny. He also describes his heartbreak upon learning that so many renowned authors did not share his heritage.
“Between Beckett and Yates and James Joyce, these were old Irish writers,” he said. “The best f****** writers in the world not one was a Jew. I had a nervous breakdown. I cried for about a month. I was only restored by when they told me Modigliani was a Jew.”
And that’s all in just the first 10 minutes. Tune in for the rest – it's worth it.