Mel Brooks Live at the Geffen:
The legendary writer, director, and actor tells his life story at The Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles, California.
This review will border on blasphemy.
Mel Brooks: Live at the Geffen is boring. Sure, it’s amazing that an 88-year-old can remember everything from his life without looking at notes. However, this special comes off as listening to your grandparents’ friend talking about his life. You indulge him for 20 minutes before finding an excuse to leave.
While I like Brooks, I should’ve realized when he doesn’t have someone to bounce ideas off of, he’s a little too juvenile for my tastes. For me, he’s at his best on talk shows, especially Conan. Incidentally, it’s Brooks’ myriad of talk show appearances, which he always uses to share a different life story, that ruined Mel Brooks: Live at the Geffen for me.
Live at the Geffen would have been better had it been more like Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project, which was part documentary, part stand up special. Exactly the same format would not work for Brooks, but inserting clips from interviews would have broken up the fact that Brooks didn’t really use all of the stage.
The main issue is that hardcore fans and comedy students will be familiar with at least half the details. Mel Brooks was born Melvin Kaminsky. He’s one of four children. He worked in the Catskills. He served in the army. Sid Caeser gave him his start. Carl Reiner is his best friend. You know the rest.
If Brooks’ doesn’t put his autobiography on paper, generations to come will look back at the Live at the Geffen and will get an accurate picture of the man’s life. I suspect this will age better than it plays now.
Unless you absolutely love Brooks, how long do you need to watch Brook stand in one spot against a black background? He would have been better off writing a book or having Carl Reiner on stage with him, so that there would be an interesting and funny dynamic. You should pass on Mel Brooks: Live at the Geffen. Instead, spend the hour watching Your Show of Shows on YouTube. It’s a better use of your time.
Review: 3 out of 10
Allison Lips is the Founder of Wait! What’s a Dial?, a television blog that showcases the writing of millennials. Allison graduated from Rowan University in May 2013. She has a passion for TV history, especially late night and game shows. If she could go back in time, Steve Allen would still be hosting The Tonight Show. Follow her on Twitter @waitwaitsadial.