Mel Brooks....or Zuckers

Inspired by the Mel Brooks poll.

I was reading it and about to comment when I realized that I like Mel Brooks enough, but I think the Zuckers are the funnier comedy writers. Then again this is a personal preference…So I am wondering who else is with me. (or against me.)

The Zuckers are jokesters and gag men. Brooks is a satirist and a subversive. They both may be funny on the surface, but in substance, they’re nowhere in the same league.

If I was going to watch a marathon of movies, I’d choose Brooks over Zuckers.
But if was only going to watch one, I’d pick Airplane! any day of the week.

Archive Guy is right on the money. Airplane! is very funny and a good time, but poking The Man in the gut it is not.

Yup. The Zuckers are the guys who have a dozen pizzas delivered to the dean’s house. Brooks is the guy who spends all night replacing all the copies of the school newspaper with the April Fool’s edition.

And ends up married to Anne Bancroft.

I pick the Zuckers, only in part because (a) they went to the University of Wisconsin, and (b) they sat right in front of me during a sneak preview of a rough cut of “Top Secret!” (a very underrated movie) at the UW.

Brooks pioneered an old-fashioned retro comedy with dumb jokes and silliness. The Zuckers took his concept and turboed it up: more jokes per minute than anyone had done before, but similar to Brooks in style.

Ultimately, they overtook him so that Brook’s version of things seemed weak compared to the Zuckers. It was as though he never understood the changes they wrought.

The problem was that Brooks really only produced on completely satisfying comedy (Young Frankenstein, one that came close (Silent Movie(, a couple of flawed but interesting ones Blazing Saddles, The Producers (which owes a lot to Gene Wilder and Zero Mostel) and The Twelve Chairs. Everything else was really not all that funny.

The Zuckers’s scorecard was better: One classic (Airplane!), two near great ones Naked Gun and Top Secret, a couple of good ones (the other Naked Gun movies. There was also Ruthless People and Ghost (for a change of pace). Jim Abrahams, their partner, also scored with the Hot Shots! films.

So Brooks was the pioneer. The Zuckers followed in his path, but overall did more good films than Brooks did.

Holy shit. I did not know he directed that.
That is earthshattering to me. To go from Airplane! and Top Secret…to Ghost.

You want earth-shattering, Brooksfilms (Mel Brooks’ production company) produced The Elephant Man, The Fly and 84 Charing Cross Road among others.

Supposedly Brooks set up the company because he didn’t want The Elephant Man to be tagged “A Mel Brooks Film.”

Remember that David Zucker was also the director of An American Carol, the reportedly completely unfunny parody of Michael Moore.

Meanwhile, Mel Brooks made the very funny remake of To Be or Not To Be.

So I vote for Mel.

While that was a fine film, Brooks didn’t write or direct it. He was just an actor.

Is it permissible to say neither? It always seems like such obvious humor. I usually like to be surprised by my humor.

I’ve been watching Police Squad! and the Zuckers cram in more gags per minute than anybody, ever, and lots aren’t obvious. You have to keep both eyes on the background because that’s where the funniest and most surprising are.