While he doesn’t know it, and in fact… he doesn’t even know I exist, Mel Brooks’ comedy got me through one of the darkest times of my life, and for that I can’t thank him enough.
I had a falling accident in September of 1993, that left me paralyzed from the waist down. While it’s not in my nature to wallow in self pity, when finding out that I will never walk again did have me in the gutter, emotionally. I’m not sure if it was because of all the drugs the doctors had me on, having my life completely flipped upside down (just as things were seemingly coming together), or a combination of both, but I found myself depressed and wondering about my future.
The unknown can always be a scary thing, especially at age 25, when most people are just starting to take jabs and body blows from life. Here I was, feeling like I took a knock out punch in the first round. Dazed and confused I desperately wanted to get back on my feet, back to my old life, but no matter how hard I worked and physically trained, that wasn’t going to happen. You see… recovery from paralysis is like a crap-shoot. There’s no such thing as “I worked really hard and made a recovery from my paralyzing accident.” No… the media is the worst disseminator of this false information. Only one thing determines if you can recover from a paralyzing accident. Either the damage is serious, or it’s not.
The days in rehab weren’t so bad, because we were kept busy with the different therapies. The nights though… that’s where things could get lonely. That’s when your mind became your worst enemy. To help combat this, I had my brother record two songs for me, and I listened to them over and over. These songs always made me laugh, and reminded me not only of happy times, but (to quote every coach in existence) that “it is what it is”. Yes… Life is, and there’s nothing we can do about it. Listening to these songs over and over when I felt depressed, got me through some of the dark nights.
What were the two songs, you ask? They were both from movies. The first was “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” (Monty Python’s “Life of Brian”) and the other was “The Spanish Inquisition” (Mel Brooks’ “History of the Word Part 1”).
We all heard the saying… “laughter is the best medicine”? I’m here as proof that if you can laugh at yourself, you can get through anything. Thank you Mel for using your sense of humor and comic genius to bring joy and laughter to a world in desperate need for more of it.
With that… here’s a spotlight about one of my favorite comic geniuses… Mel Brooks.
(The below information is from Wikipedia)
Mel Brooks (born Melvin James Kaminsky, June 28, 1926) is an American film director, screenwriter, comedian, actor, producer, composer and songwriter. He is best known as a creator of broad film farces and comic parodies. He began his career as a comic and a writer for the early TV variety show Your Show of Shows. He became well known as part of the comedy duo with Carl Reiner, The 2000 Year Old Man. In middle age he became one of the most successful film directors of the 1970s, with many of his films being among the top ten money makers of the year that they were released. His best known films include The Producers, The Twelve Chairs, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, Silent Movie, High Anxiety, History of the World, Part I, Spaceballs and Robin Hood: Men in Tights. More recently, he had a smash hit on Broadway with the musical adaptation of his first film, The Producers. He was married to the actress Anne Bancroft from 1964 until her death in 2005.
Brooks is on the short list of entertainers who have won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony award. He received the 41st AFI Life Achievement Award in June 2013. Three of his films ranked in the American Film Institute’s list of the top 100 comedy films of all-time, all of which ranked in the top 20 of the list: Blazing Saddles at number 6, The Producers at number 11, and Young Frankenstein at number 13.
By: Attila Domos
(Editor’s note: Even though this particular article spotlight’s the one and only comic genius that is Mel Brooks, I’ve also decided to add Monty Python’s clip from “The Life of Brian”. These were 2 among my favorite comedies, and always put a smile on my face. Enjoy them for what they are… comedy.)
Mel’s personal website: http://www.melbrooks.com/