“When you’re dead, you can’t do much,” Mel Brooks says in his first overt political statement without a punchline. It is a big turnaround from the position he took while making the 1995 vampire comedy, Dracula: Dead and Loving It. But Brooks has enough limits in his life right now. He can only see his son and grandson through protective glass. His closest friend, the late and wonderful Carl Reiner, no longer picks up morning coffee. Brooks is endorsing former Vice President Joe Biden for president because President Trump is “not doing a damn thing” about the coronavirus pandemic.
“My father, @MelBrooks, is 94. He has never made a political video. Until now,” Brooks’s son, author Max Brooks, tweeted along with a video of Mel addressing the camera while his son and grandson stand forlornly behind a glass window.
“They can’t be with me. Why? Because of this coronavirus,” Brooks says. That’s a true statement, one Brooks can appreciate in world leaders. Brooks picked his presidential favorite because “Joe likes facts. Because Joe likes science.”
The Brooks family are no strangers to science. Max Brooks actually did quite a bit of World Health Organization response research for his book World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, ahead of his newest novel about a flawed response to a crisis, Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre. And Mel, of course, was able to bring dead flesh to life, using the electromagnetic energy of a thunderstorm on sewn-together organs, synapses, limbs, and an enormous schwanzstucker in Young Frankenstein.
“Joe will keep us going,” Brooks says now in the 53-second video. We can almost hear Gene Wilder screaming “Give my creature life.”
Brooks means it. He used to appreciate Trump for all his major contributions to the fine institution of late-night comedy. Now not so much. “So many people have died,” Brooks says. He’s willing to forego whatever laugh track may accompany any socially distanced funeral procession for a little bit of positive and informed action.
Brooks is a smart man. Probably smarter than Maxwell Smart, the spy he created with Buck Henry for Get Smart. Brooks figured out you could make a lot more money with a flop than a hit in The Producers. He knew he could get Frank Langella to carry The Twelve Chairs for him. He knew how to start torch songs in low keys when he sang in the Catskills. Brooks knew enough history to complete the first part of a series of films on the History of the World. He also knew enough not to make a sequel.
He also first fought against fascists as a private in the U.S. Army during World War II.
“Take a tip from me, vote for Joe,” Brooks says as he holds up his “Cup of Joe.”