Even though he’s 91 and Hollywood royalty, Mel Brooks still just can’t seem to learn how to behave like a proper Left Coast leftist. In an interview with The Daily Beast published Monday, the iconic director said a few things about both Donald Trump and political correctness that will likely irk his friends in the #Resistance. But here’s guessing Brooks doesn’t much care.
Brooks’ triggering comments about Trump came in response to interviewer Matt Willstein asking him if he thinks it’s appropriate to draw parallels between “The Producers,” about two producers deliberately trying to make a flop, and the Trump campaign. The question got a laugh out of Brooks.
“I don’t know if he was really trying to lose,” said Brooks. “I’m not sure he wanted it, but I don’t think he was actively trying to lose it because, you know, anything important you don’t give up. I think what he really wanted was maybe to be president for a month or so, so he could be in the books and wear the crown and then say, ‘Look, this is not really my job. I’ve got a show to do.’ But he didn’t know they don’t let you quit. So it backfired and now it’s every minute.”
That’s when the director said something that Hollywood certainly won’t appreciate hearing. “But who knows if the Democrats have anybody [who can beat him], because really it’s a big show and he’s a big celebrity,” said Brooks. “And I think, America votes for a celebrity. I don’t think they vote for somebody who’s a great administrator.”
And, of course, Brooks is right, as Barack Obama proved eight years before Trump.
Not satisfied that he’d gotten enough Trump talk out of Brooks yet, the interviewer asked him if he found Trump “to be funny or not so much.” Brooks wouldn’t bite on the chance to directly slam Trump. Instead, he used the question as an opportunity to work in a few jabs at the uniformly leftwing late-night host lineup before taking a vague shot at the president.
“You know, I think he saved late-night television,” said Brooks. “I’m very grateful to him for that. Between Conan and Jimmy Kimmel and Colbert, he saved these guys! They’ve built careers on his doings. We are grateful to him for his contribution to showbiz. Other things are not so terrific.”
After discussing his concern about the rise of anti-Semitism both in America and in Europe, Brooks addressed political correctness and its impact on comedy. What is often labeled politically incorrect, he suggested, is actually just the truth stated in plain language.
“I’ve never been a fan of political correctness,” said Brooks. “I’ve been a fan of decent behavior, which is different from political correctness. Because political correctness demands too much respect for being good. And comics are not good. We are bad. We whisper into the king’s ear. We tell him the truth. And that’s our job. It’s our job to say it like it is. And sometimes use the words that we use in the street. You can’t always play ball with the system, you have to strike out and tell the truth.”
Asked if he thinks people are “too concerned about hurting feelings these days,” Brooks said, “I think that people … love the comics that break the rules, that’s what I think. I think it’s only a sliver that really love political correctness. Everybody else likes the truth, which is different.”