Mel Brooks Digs The Good Wife; Carl Reiner Thinks John Oliver Is 'Incredible'

Stars discuss comedy, television, and the legacy of Sid Caesar.

by | July 17, 2014 | Comments

The stage at the Beverly Hills Paley Center for Media still stands today, even after holding up the comedic weight from Wednesday’s night tribute to the late Sid Caesar.



Billy Crystal, Carl Reiner, and Mel Brooks told stories about their close friend and TV icon for over 90 minutes at the Paley Center’s salute to Sid Caesar, who passed away in February. Eddy Friedfeld, the co-author of the autobiography Caesar’s Hours: My Life in Comedy, With Love and Laughter, moderated a program that was funny, touching, and illuminating.

Twelve-time Emmy winner Carl Reiner (The Dick Van Dyke Show) worked on Caesar’s Your Show of Shows, alongside Mel Brooks and Neil Simon from 1950 to 1954. He also wrote on Caesar’s Hour, which aired from 1954 to 1957.

“My favorite memory of Sid is being on stage with him and hearing roars of laughter over things that weren’t planned,” Reiner told Rotten Tomatoes during the program’s red carpet. “If he heard a laugh, he could milk it more than any other comedian I’ve ever seen. If he knew the audience was enjoying it particularly, he says, ‘You let them enjoy it a little longer.’ I learned something from that: go with the audience. If they like it, give them more of the same.”

Mel Brooks (Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles) whose tenure with Caesar’s Your Show of Shows launched an illustrious movie career, wishes Sid Caesar had followed his lead onto the big screen.

“The trouble with Your Show of Shows and Sid Caesar and the reason it’s not living on is because it was captured on inferior material, like cellophane and kinescopes, but had Sid Caesar made movies, he’d still be a giant in comedy today,” Brooks told Rotten Tomatoes. “People would know because movies last. We go to see Charlie Chaplin movies, and we go to see Buster Keaton movies. There are no Sid Caesar movies, and that’s terrible. But his comedy was eternal and it’s a pity that it wasn’t captured on materials that would let it live.”

Reiner, who was first cast in Your Show of Shows in 1950 by producer Max Leibman, said the secret to enduring comedy is truth. “If a comedian is telling the truth — telling the truth means talking about what he really, really, feels deeply — you can’t fail. It’s when you’re trying to be something you’re not. The audience knows it in a second. But all the great comedians now, from Richard Pryor down to Louie CK, they talk about what they know about and they talk about the real.”

The realness of comedy also extends to political satire in Reiner’s opinion. “The political comedians like Jon Stewart and John Oliver — he’s incredible — and Colbert are just wonderful. Those are worthwhile comedians. They’re funny. Colbert may be the most original of all because he’s doing a right-wing gentleman and he’s not right-winged. He’s doing a satire and he’s making himself look like a fool, but doing it so honestly. He’s playing an honest fool.”

For Mel Brooks, finding current-day comedy on television that he enjoys is a bit more difficult.

“There are a lot of shows that I like, but, honestly, there’s not a lot of comedy that I’m crazy about,” Brooks said. “I like The Good Wife; I’d like to meet her. Breaking Bad was incredible. Justified with Timothy Olyphant is a wonderful show. I like mostly hour drama. It seems to be superior in intelligence and in writing ability than half-hour sitcoms that just don’t thrill me. I like Modern Family; it’s funny — especially when my old friend Nathan Lane is a guest star. It’s adorable. Otherwise, I like Chinese food. Peking duck.”

For info on upcoming Paley Center events, visit www.paleycenter.org.

For more TV news, visit the Rotten Tomatoes TV Zone.

Tag Cloud

docudrama DC Universe 21st Century Fox TCM series adaptation canceled TV shows TLC award winner Valentine's Day APB HBO period drama MCU Masterpiece Creative Arts Emmys Song of Ice and Fire TNT Countdown Music discovery WarnerMedia Paramount ESPN Mudbound ABC sitcom Christmas PBS television cars Fox News Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Sci-Fi Anna Paquin Certified Fresh Ovation golden globes Musicals Vudu biography Character Guide Grammys Pixar Disney slashers Opinion social media Disney streaming service Martial Arts harry potter CMT SXSW GoT BBC The Witch zombies NYCC Comics on TV The Purge Peacock Columbia Pictures Apple Kids & Family Spectrum Originals YouTube Premium romantic comedy cooking singing competition war Logo justice league foreign transformers Star Trek romance crossover Classic Film Writers Guild of America based on movie anthology YouTube Red finale TV A&E Elton John RT21 renewed TV shows independent Animation Pop Apple TV+ spanish language mutant diversity Interview Esquire aliens President Mindy Kaling vampires Food Network boxoffice movies Video Games Pride Month Shondaland Sneak Peek Winter TV X-Men DGA spinoff Bravo science fiction Chernobyl hist Women's History Month politics Winners CW Seed Oscars Sundance Now spy thriller Schedule game of thrones jamie lee curtis comic PaleyFest ITV technology LGBTQ unscripted Emmy Nominations historical drama Year in Review Star Wars FXX cancelled TV shows TBS 2017 SDCC USA Network Podcast Apple TV Plus Country nature what to watch Teen binge game show Super Bowl Premiere Dates AMC crime drama The Walking Dead Lionsgate free movies natural history 24 frames dragons Awards The Arrangement Crunchyroll TruTV Walt Disney Pictures cops Television Academy 45 DirecTV breaking bad indie Heroines Dark Horse Comics cats doctor who teaser DC streaming service adventure CBS Infographic true crime ABC Family Sony Pictures CBS All Access Calendar green book miniseries 20th Century Fox children's TV Crackle 71st Emmy Awards E3 Holidays San Diego Comic-Con Polls and Games Cartoon Network BET Paramount Network Lifetime GIFs FOX HBO Max werewolf Turner Classic Movies Reality Competition Binge Guide First Look Musical disaster Film Festival American Society of Cinematographers TV renewals toy story GLAAD Turner Reality Photos cancelled TV series Summer cartoon Arrowverse travel Tomatazos Comedy Rocketman Amazon Prime Video cults elevated horror Stephen King Nickelodeon Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt latino USA WGN Fall TV Acorn TV CNN Trailer Mary Poppins Returns zero dark thirty The CW 2015 blockbuster Action See It Skip It 2019 canceled cancelled television Fantasy spain E! Superheroes TIFF Best and Worst Tarantino joker anime VH1 Warner Bros. robots Spring TV YA Election IFC festivals mockumentary ghosts Brie Larson sequel zombie Tumblr batman Lucasfilm hispanic Emmys Cosplay animated Nat Geo video Box Office Marvel Studios stand-up comedy revenge National Geographic richard e. Grant Superheroe Disney Plus comiccon versus TCA 2017 Mystery Red Carpet Awards Tour cancelled Syfy psychological thriller Thanksgiving YouTube Universal TCA spider-man LGBT Rock Showtime MTV crime thriller police drama supernatural New York Comic Con Family Starz sports DC Comics Rom-Com cinemax Mary poppins RT History First Reviews Ghostbusters Britbox dceu quibi Horror 007 Marvel Set visit Pirates Trivia facebook Quiz Cannes Sundance Shudder Black Mirror Toys Mary Tyler Moore political drama Drama thriller dc talk show medical drama Freeform Amazon Prime theme song TV Land south america Ellie Kemper SundanceTV strong female leads blaxploitation Adult Swim crime VICE dramedy El Rey composers Biopics Watching Series Comic Book tv talk OWN witnail space History halloween book kids Disney Channel MSNBC Hulu Epix Trophy Talk Western BBC America Pet Sematary casting Rocky Marathons streaming Spike psycho Marvel Television Film FX Comedy Central 2016 Captain marvel Nominations IFC Films NBC ratings Extras serial killer Amazon 2018 A24 Netflix