Oy Vey!

Mel Brooks Isn”€™t Funny

July 28, 2015

Mel Brooks

I call “€œfalse advertising”€ on the Washingtonian. Its July 24 piece by Benjamin Freed promises that we”€™ll “€œMeet the Guy Who’s Protesting a Maryland Theater’s Production of The Producers.”€

But it doesn”€™t quite deliver. The “€œguy”€ in question, one Jeffrey Imm, is described as the leader of an “€œanti-discrimination group”€ saddled with the lumpy handle Responsible for Equality and Liberty (REAL).

That final word in the group’s name must have been picked solely for its acronym-friendliness, in the same way that many a garage band has chosen its drummer because he was the one who had the garage. I say that not only because some of us persist in believing that “€œequality”€ and “€œliberty”€ are patently incompatible but also because it’s surely a funny kind of “€œliberty”€ that tries to shut down a play.

Now, you wouldn”€™t know it from reading the Washingtonian, but this isn”€™t Imm’s first adventure in unapologetic Constitutional violation. A second’s Googling revealed that Imm was one of the jerks who got the 2010 AmRen conference canceled. (Which in turn got him sued.)

“€œIn a career spanning over 70 years, Brooks has made three slightly above average movies, and all three had one thing in common: Gene Wilder.”€

That same search also revealed that, weirdly, Imm had been active in the counter-jihad movement for a few years before that. “€œWeirdly”€ since those folks are typically too busy trying to hold their own conferences without getting killed to consider violating others”€™ rights to do likewise.

My pal Robert Spencer at Jihad Watch told me via email that yes, this was the same Jeffrey Imm, and that since publicly denouncing him and Pamela Geller, “€œhe has gotten nuttier and nuttier, culminating in calling for Mel Brooks to be banned.”€

Specifically, Brooks’ play The Producers, the Tony-winning musical adaptation of his 1968 film about two Jewish losers (sorry: a schnorrer and his schlemiel sidekick) who scheme to make a killing by intentionally staging the worst musical in Broadway history. (See, if a production bombs, hapless “€œangel”€ investors don”€™t get their money back.) And what could be better guaranteed to fail than a revue called Springtime for Hitler, right?

Do-gooder Imm objects that there’s nothing funny about Hitler and the Nazis and the Holocaust. He may want to tell that to the Germans, who, according to this guy, were telling concentration-camp jokes before and during World War II”€”and to the Jews who were telling them in them.

And yet Imm, in his own flaky fashion, is onto something. It’s not that those topics aren”€™t funny.

It’s that Mel Brooks isn”€™t funny.

Yes, I risk my semiannual ZOG check for saying that, but it’s true.

In a career spanning over 70 years, Brooks has made three”€”count them”€”slightly above average movies, and all three had one thing in common: Gene Wilder.

Wilder got a deserved Oscar nomination for The Producers, should”€™ve received another for Blazing Saddles“€”which I”€™ve complained about at some length here before“€”and was perfect in Young Frankenstein. Wilder”€”the Nicolas Cage of American comedy”€”tempered Brooks”€™ otherwise coarse films with his eccentric yet strangely sensitive turns. (Note for instance that all three of his collaborations with Brooks feature weirdly touching portrayals of male friendship beneath all the fart jokes.)

Devoid of Wilder’s inimitable manic gentleness, Brooks”€™ other films range from the mercifully forgotten (The Twelve Chairs, Life Stinks, Dracula: Dead and Loving It) to the unwatchable (Silent Movie, High Anxiety). I hear tell that Robin Hood: Men in Tights and Spaceballs have their defenders among 10-year-old boys, but I don”€™t count many in that cohort among my acquaintances.

It’s bad enough that so many of Brooks”€™ self-indulgent “€œjokes”€ frankly make no sense whatsoever (“€œI”€™m a concierge.“€ “€œFrau Blucher.“€) And that he encourages his actors to mug shamelessly in direct violation of the old comedy rule”€”displayed to perfection in Airplane!“€”that performers should play even the craziest situations dead straight.

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