Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony: Mel Brooks, the legendary recipient of all four of these awards, was live onstage here in NYC for a 2 day residency at the Lunt-Fontanne theater on Broadway, and I was fortunate enough to get (nosebleed) seats for yesterday's show.
Mel won his first Academy Award in 1964, so that makes an incredible 55 years of his performing onscreen - and that's not counting his years of comedy writing, stand-up, and live theater and musical work. So what kind of stories does a legend like Mel recount in an evening on Broadway?
Mel began the evening by talking about being born in 1926 and growing up in Brooklyn in the 1930's:
"So whaddya want? The story of my life? I was born in Brooklyn, 365 South Third Street, and my mother already had three boys. She asked the doctor 'is it a girl? is it a girl?" and the doctor said "No, it's another boy, an eight-pound, bouncy boy." And my mother said 'You want him?' So that was my entrance."
Getting his start in the entertainment industry in the "Borscht Belt" at about 15, and how Bing Crosby can pose a serious threat to one's health:
"I was about 15, and I was hoping to get onstage, but the only jobs they had open was busboy. So I worked as a busboy, in the mountains. I had the sour cream station. These stainless steel tubs of sour cream. And you'd take them from the kitchen to the dining room, and they're empty in one minute, and you'd take 'em back. I would do five or six, for lunch, about five or six travels, with a lot of sour cream. The Jews loved sour cream. They used to cut vegetables, put them with sour cream. They'd eat everything with sour cream. They'd eat steak with sour cream. They love sour cream. Anyway, you would think that somebody like the people in the mountains eating sour cream would succumb to some kind of heart trouble, because normal cholesterol, up to 100, 200, is okay. Their average cholesterol was 1856! Anyway, after lunch, they would go on the porch, they would line up on the porch of the hotel, and they'd rock. And then they died. Wait! They didn't die because of the sour cream or the cholesterol. They died because they all loved a song that came out year, in '31 or '32,it was called "Dancing in the Dark," and they tried to sing it like Bing Crosby - it's a very rangy song. It goes up and down. Bing Crosby sings it like this - 'dancing in the dark, we can face the music together, dancing in the darrrrrrrk!" and the Jews didn't know where to start. You gotta start it low - but they'd start it higher, 'dancing in the dark, waltzing in the darrrrrrk, we can face the music TOGETHERRRR!!!' and then - heart attack."