Mel Brooks has a number of set-piece story/anecdotes/routines that he’s perfected the telling and performing of over the years. (His marvelous one-man show, recorded at the Geffen Theater a few years ago, is essentially a compendium of a bunch of them). But for my money the greatest of them all is the tale of his brief ‘friendship’ with Cary Grant. (Oddly I don’t recall it being included in the solo show). The reason I favor it above all others is simple; it’s philosophically insightful and dangerously truthful about the way humans wind up, oftentimes, relating to each other in ways we may never have imagined. Just watch the above–it’s a lot funnier than my explanation. This is from an unidentified talk show appearance in the early 1990’s–(does anyone recognize the host? I don’t)–and shows Mel at his most ebullient and delightfully energetic. The story was told on a Johnny Carson show also, but the quality of the version I found on Youtube was unacceptable. The beginning of the story in this version is clipped–the set-up is that Mel has recently arrived in Hollywood with a big studio contract after his record ‘The Two-Thousand Year Old Man’ has hit it big. He’s given an office on a studio lot and the office next door is occupied by Cary Grant, who was his mothers favorite movie star and who epitomized the glamour of Hollywood when Mel was growing up in Brooklyn. I’ll let the rest of the clip speak for itself.


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