Mel Brooks Confessed The True Nature Of His 70-Year Friendship With Carl Reiner

In 2020 Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner, at 93 and 97 respectively, sat down with The Guardian for an interview. The subject? Their amazing 70 year friendship. In fact, the interview pulled back the curtain on them as pals, revealing an unusual routine that both legendary comedians religiously stuck to right up until Reiner’s passing.

A close bond

Perhaps the most endearing thing about the interview, conducted in Reiner’s home, was that it showed just how close the two men are. Journalist Hadley Freeman noted how Reiner appeared weaker than Brooks, and his mind wasn’t quite as quick anymore. So Brooks lovingly prompted Reiner into telling anecdotes and was careful to explain things to him in ways he could understand.

As sharp as ever

In some way Brooks had almost taken on the role that a spouse would for their ailing partner. But both men were, rest assured, as hilarious as ever when they got into the swing of the interview. They were also still capable of making razor sharp observations about the nature of comedy – their life’s work.

Jewish comedy

When asked why so many comedians are Jewish, Brooks joked, “Well, back when we started there weren’t that many jobs for Jews. It was either the garment center, sports or comedy.” But then Reiner offered an insightful thought on the matter. He mused, “I think Jews were naturally funny because they were low on the totem pole, so they made fun of the people higher on the pole.”

The straight/funny guy

In a way, this was a perfect reflection of how Brooks and Reiner’s relationship worked on-screen and on-record. Brooks was always the livewire funny guy – the motormouth who improvised gags like they were going out of fashion. But he needed Reiner, whose style was more reasoned and low-key, to balance him out. It worked gangbusters for them.