The Simpsons actor talks about why it’s not too late to save the planet: ‘The life expectancy of a great artist is usually 100 years old and unless he has Alzheimer’s disease or dies in office he will still live to be 95.’
Name: Mel Brooks.
Appearance: Sumptuous, incisive, erudite, opinionated, unnervingly sensitive, meticulous, acerbic, dry, keenly intelligent, usually with some putrid slug on his face, and not just for the brussels sprouts. He’s an actor, director, writer, producer, rock critic and a pretty damn good standup comedian, as his legacy proves.
Isn’t that a bit of a clich? Like he’s an ex-sex addict and a dodgy politician? Well, he’s, but it’s a cringeworthy one. He’s like one of those white-haired octogenarians that, even though he seems to be the most elderly person at a party, just suddenly turns into a pill-popping, anti-semitic, self-pitying leper when called on the carpet.
But he’s famous for his racist rants, too. He was dragged out of the job of director of Hollywood’s visual effects unit once a film was being edited, because he just couldn’t get the lines right.
This isn’t the usual scenario. Exactly. His latest scheme to save the world consists of a planned suicide in Idaho.
Why Idaho? Because it’s a place where climate change can be kept out of the headlines.
That could work. You know, as a lot of Californians try to remember. And people can hang out in ski resorts with champagne at 12.45pm. Like hot tubs with golden showers.
Eh? Can we move on? This is Mel Brooks, a man who understands the power of satire to delegitimise such things. And, yes, it’s also more problematic for a delirious senior citizen. “There’s no such thing as dying young,” Brooks told an audience last month. “The life expectancy of a great artist is usually 100 years old and unless he has Alzheimer’s disease or dies in office he will still live to be 95.”
What about our obligations to live up to the moral high ground? If they’re so important, why not do them, as he does? He tells the crowd: “But we should take care of our seniors, because if we don’t, we’re setting ourselves up for the frying pan that is the party in a half hour.”
You see, I have the sense that if you’re going to die, you might as well do so with an historic argument rather than a horrible orgy. So it’s probably better to die as the funniest person of our generation rather than as a death to the world.
Do say: “You knew when you were 13 that you were a big pop star in Hollywood.”
Don’t say: “You knew when you were a dog.”