One happy little comedian

By Jenni Frazer
April 27, 2010

So pleased to see that the towering talent that is Mel Brooks has been awarded his very own star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame. Now he's 83, it's not a moment too soon.
I love Mel Brooks. I first met him years ago on a ferryboat between Manhattan and Fire Island, one of the inner beach resorts where New Yorkers regularly take off during the torrid summer months. A friend of mine had taken a house for the season, travelling back and forth to the city when absolutely necessary. I went to visit and on the way back was staggered to see Brooks holding court on the top deck of the ferry, cracking jokes and trading wisecracks with a large audience of fans.
I can't lose this opportunity, I thought, and moved forward to see if I could give him my business card. "Whaddaya want?" he growled. "Er, an interview? When you're next in London?"
To my great surprise, the next time Brooks was in London, we got the interview. I was next in line to see him after the woman from the Sunday Express, who reeled out, shell-shocked, after Brooks had interrupted her allotted 15 minutes, to tap-dance on the hotel table - basically because he was bored. He didn't behave like that with the JC.
Some years later Brooks was back and this time he wanted to know what I was doing over Yom Kippur. I conceded that I was fasting and he seemed astonished. "Really?" Yes, really. "Well, whaddaya doin' later?" I said, perfectly truthfully, that since Yom Kippur was a Wednesday, I was going in after the fast to help finish off the paper.
Sure enough, no sooner was the fast out than Mel Brooks was on the phone. Could he come into the paper to help, too, he wanted to know? Like a fool, I said no, trying hard to imagine my editor's face if I arrived in Furnival Street with Brooks in tow.
I suppose in some ways it's fortunate that he didn't turn up at the JC that night. Otherwise, it may not have been The Producers, but instead, The Editors.


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