We here at Nerdist have been very saddened by the passing of Gene Wilder this week. Between my own remembrance of his best work, Kendall Ashley’s appreciation of Young Frankenstein, or Mikey Walsh sharing a personal story about growing up watching Willy Wonka, we’ve all been pretty bummed at the loss of such a comedy legend. But our sorrow pales in comparison to that of Mel Brooks, whose career has been intertwined with Wilder’s since the two first worked together on The Producers in 1968. On The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon Tuesday night, Brooks shared some wonderful Wilder memories.
Brooks is a consummate entertainer and a brilliant storyteller, always making a talk show appearance into a full stage affair. On the show to promote his new book about the making of Young Frankenstein, the appearance just so happened to coincide with Wilder’s passing on Monday. You can tell Brooks is legitimately broken up about it, saying how, even though he knew his friend would be going soon, it’s still weird that he can’t call him on the phone. Brooks then launches into several great and much more upbeat stories about Wilder, from the pair’s first meeting to Brooks getting the money to make The Producers, to the writing and casting of Young Frankenstein. Brooks, even at 90, is a bundle of energy.
Earlier in the interview, Fallon asked Brooks about growing up in Brooklyn, which led to some fantastic stories about things being thrown out of his apartment window (either a sandwich his mother made for him, or some bodily fluids that needed an outlet when he was a small child and his brother was in the loo). It’s a harrowing tale indeed.
Mel Brooks directed some of the finest comedies of all time, and easily his top three were the ones he made with Gene Wilder — The Producers, Blazing Saddles, and Young Frankenstein — and it’s a collaboration that will go down in history alongside the likes of Hitchcock and Stewart, Scorsese and DeNiro, and Coen and McDormand. Also, can we just listen to Mel Brooks talk all day every day? Please?
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