Mel Brooks Isn’t Done Punching Up the History of the World


Once the ball got rolling, all the comedians who idolized Mr. Brooks wanted in — from Johnny Knoxville (who plays Rasputin getting his attenuated member cut off) to Sarah Silverman (who is in a “Jews in space” skit previewed in Part I with the song “Jews, out in space, we’re zooming along, protecting the Hebrew race”) to Jack Black (a sneaky Stalin).

Mr. Knoxville said that Mr. Brooks is “the legend of legends,” who pushes things as far as possible (which is also the “Jackass” way.) He got to talk to his idol on the phone one night. “I was shaking before and during and after,” Mr. Knoxville said. “I don’t know if he got a word in edgewise.”

Mr. Knoxville thinks that he actually saw Rasputin’s “Jim Dog,” as he called the body part, pronouncing it “Dawg,” in a jar in St. Petersburg, Russia, at the Museum of Erotica. It’s not clear if the castration of the concupiscent mystic was mere legend, but in the “History of the World” universe, Mr. Brooks is happy to go with the legend.

“Before Mel, I don’t think movies were hilarious,” Mr. Barinholtz said. “Before ‘Blazing Saddles,’ regular people were not going to the movie theater and laughing so hard they were hyperventilating. Mel, I think, really ushered that in.” He and some of the other comedians who worked on the show had not met Mr. Brooks before, Mr. Barinholtz said, adding: “He inspected our teeth and could tell that we were strong.”

Mr. Brooks himself narrates the film, with a muscly CGI body. I asked how he compared to the original narrator, Orson Welles. Mr. Brooks gave the contest to Mr. Welles: “He said, ‘I want $25,000 in a paper bag and please don’t mention it to my agent.’ I said, ‘What are you going to do with that $25,000 in the paper bag?’ He said, ‘Beluga caviar and the finest Cuban cigars.’”

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