In case you haven’t heard, Mel Brooks is one funny guy. Audacious, too.
On Thursday, Brooks and a number of other American treasures—”creators who give every piece of themselves to their craft,” said President Obama—dressed up in their best suits and gowns and gathered at The White House to receive the 2015 National Medal of Arts. “As Mel Brooks once said to his writers on Blazing Saddles—which is a great film—’write anything you want because we’ll never be heard from again. We will all be arrested for this movie,’” said Obama, with Brooks sitting in the front row.
Obama continued: “To be fair, Mel also said, a little more eloquently, that ‘every human being has hundreds of separate people living inside his skin. And the talent of a writer is his ability to give them separate names identities personalistes and have them relate to other characters living within.’ And that, I think, is what the arts and humanities do. They lift up our our identities make us see ourselves and each other.”
Then, the two met onstage and, well, Brooks pulled a fast one:
Pres. Obama awards the 2015 National Medal of Arts to Mel Brooks “for a lifetime of making the world laugh.” https://t.co/bGsVe1NLg6
— ABC News (@ABC) September 22, 2016
Jonathan Zalman is a writer and teacher based in Brooklyn.