Mel Brooks is a legend. And he spent the pandemic doing what writers do… writing. So in addition to The Producers, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, Spaceballs, and many others, you can now add the autobiography “All About Me!: My Remarkable Life in Show Business.”
As much as this is your standard autobiography written by someone famous who came from nothing and made their mark, this is comedy icon Mel Brooks, and while not all of his stories are funny, they all involve funny and talented people. You can’t help but smile as you read it.
If you are interested in reading it, and you’re already a fan of Brooks on any level, you can’t help but read this with Brooks’ voice in your head. Trust me, it makes the book all the more pleasurable to read and even harder to put down.
The book reads like his chronological IMDb page, excepting that he does have a tendency to get ahead of himself and correct himself in the text. But it’s Mel Brooks, so when he gets going telling a story, you’re not going to stop him.
Fans of this book will certainly enjoy the behind-the-scenes and origin stories of their favorite films, but they’ll also get to learn quite a bit more about the man who behind them. Mel pulls back the curtain on his processes, friendships, and inspirations.
Each chapter beginning with Chapter 9 is based on either a title or his work with his production company Brooksfilms, and each serves as a truncated DVD commentary on the respective piece. The first nine chronologically discuss his own origin story from Brooklyn to his experience in WWII through his years with Sid Caesar and Carl Reiner and meeting his wife Anne Bancroft.
If you want to be in the creative space or you just enjoy learning about how people create for the creative space, this book is for you. If you enjoy comedy, this is a must read from a self-described “intellectual meshugenah.”
My absolute favorite part of the book has to be where Brooks’ talks about his favorite part of his own films and shows. Sure we all have our own favorites, but to know the author’s favorites? That’s a treat.
For me, however, the reason to read this book is simple. It’s stated at the beginning and reiterated at the end:
Comedy is a weird but very beautiful thing. Even though it seems foolish and silly and crazy, comedy has the most to say about the human condition. Because if you can laugh, you can get by. You can survive when things are bad if you have a sense of humor.
In between both of those iterations are all of the anecdotes, examples, and reasons that prove that statement from a man who has blessed us all with his talent and the cacophony of our own laughter.