I really don’t have to say that Mel Brooks is a comic genius. His films are classics, including the first film he ever appeared in, the Academy Award winning The Critic.*
The movie – an animated short subject -- starts with a bunch of abstract designs and a chirpy harpsichord playing the the background. About 30 seconds in, you hear Brook’s voice** chiming in with “What the hell is this?”
Brooks continues to comment on what is shown on the screen, mystified and disdainful as he tries to puzzle out the meaning of the abstract designs in front of him. A couple of people tell him to be quiet, but he defends his right to talk about what is happening.
The entire thing was ad libbed. Brooks, inspired by seeing an old man doing the same thing in a theater, told director Ernest Pintoff to make a film, but not show it to him until he was in the studio. Brooks manages to be incredibly funny, partly because what he describes really matches what we’re seeing in a unexpected way. His way of speaking also adds to the humor.
Director/producer Ernest Pintoff had already gotten an Oscar nomination for an animated short subject,*** which may be one reason Brooks chose him. The film won this time, though Brooks would have to wait a couple of years until getting his own statuette for The Producers.
The film is short and sweet and incredibly funny. Click on the link and prepare to laugh.
*Not to be confused with the animated TV show of the same name.
**Far more familiar now than when the movie was shot, of course.
***Narrated by Brooks’s collaborator Carl Reiner.