Mel Brooks Toasted and Roasted at AFI Gala

Producer Stuart Cornfeld also honored

When AFI gives a lifetime achievement award to Mel Brooks, a filmmaker famous for satire and screwball comedy, be prepare for an evening of roasts. And that’s more or less what happened June 6, as A-listers gathered at Hollywood’s Dolby Theater to honor the helmer of “Blazing Saddles,” “Young Frankenstein” and the co-creator of the TV show “Get Smart.”

Martin Short was one of the first presenters, reprising his role from the Los Angeles cast of “The Producers” while flanked by leggy chorus girls dressed to represent various Brooks productions. He’d stop singing periodically to offer zingers like “the word ‘genius’ is used a lot in Hollywood, so I might as well call Mel one” and “what’s great about Mel is that he never lets his love of Scientology affect his work.”

Sarah Silverman also referenced the Jewish writer, director and actor’s lineage, as well as his Hitler obsession, saying, “I never understood anti-Semitism as a child. But now I’m so grateful to live here in Los Angeles, surrounded by agents and producers who remind me every single day why there’s anti-Semitism” and that Brooks enlisted in World War II because “he knew even then that fighting Nazis would entitle him to a lifetime of Holocaust jokes.”

Carl Reiner, who worked with the honoree on “Your Show of Shows” and collaborated with him on the comedy skit “The 2000 Year Old Man,” repeated Brooks’ line “It’s good to be the king.,” then added, “Mel, it’s better to be one of your subjects because you have made your subjects laugh.”

But it wasn’t just an evening for the Borscht Belt set. Amy Poehler, who took the podium saying “the shiksa goddess has arrived,” spoke of Brooks’ love for his late wife, Anne Bancroft.

Upon accepting the award, Brooks recalled, “I grew up in a tenement at 365 S. Third Street. Everyone there was either working or destined to end up working in a garment center. But I took the road less traveled, movies, and they saved me. Movies saved my life and rescued my soul and no matter what was bad or wrong, they could be wiped out on Saturday morning.”

Producer Stuart Cornfeld, an AFI alum and Brooks’ assistant on “High Anxiety,” received the Franklin J. Schaffner Alumni Medal earlier in the evening.

More Film

  • BOTM-Eve-Viper-Gang

    Director Angus Gibson: My Audience is ‘Young, Black South Africans’

    DURBAN–Sophiatown, 1958. On the outskirts of Johannesburg, as the apartheid police prepare to demolish the community at the heart of black South African cultural and intellectual life, a notorious gang leader is determined to make a last stand. Resisting the forced evictions that will transport the residents of Sophiatown to a desolate township miles away, [...]

  • marvel

    Marvel Phase 4 Plan Revealed, But Comic-Con’s Big Winner is Disney Plus

    In a triumphant return to the San Diego Comic-Con main stage, leadership at Marvel Studios managed some splashy surprises and showed off risky creative bets for the next two years of content coming from the superhero operation. But the biggest takeaway from the Saturday presentation inside Hall H was how important Marvel will make Disney [...]

  • Florence Pugh, O. T. Fagbenle, Rachel

    'Black Widow': Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh Go Head-to-Head in First Footage

    Marvel’s “Black Widow” has only been in production for a month, but studio president Kevin Feige still delivered the goods for fans at San Diego Comic-Con on Saturday. Filmmakers brought an intense sizzle reel of on-location shots, kicked off by a dazzling and bone-crushing fight sequence between lead Scarlett Johansson and her on-screen sister Florence [...]

  • Natalie Portman Thor

    Natalie Portman Returns for 'Thor: Love and Thunder' as Female Thor

    Natalie Portman is coming back to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but she’s no one’s love interest this time around. The Oscar winner will play a female god of thunder in the fourth film from the Chris Hemsworth series, titled “Thor: Love and Thunder.” Portman hit the stage at San Diego Comic-Con on Saturday to great [...]

  • Fantastic Four

    New 'Fantastic Four' Movie in Development at Marvel

    Marvel is going back to the Fantastic Four. Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige announced that a new movie based on the superhero group is in the works at San Diego Comic-Con on Saturday. Further details, however, including a release date, were not revealed. It marks the first Fox property for Disney to mine since the [...]

  • Mahershala AliMarvel Studios panel, Comic-Con International,

    Mahershala Ali to Star in Marvel's 'Blade' Reboot

    Marvel is rebooting the “Blade” series, and has cast Mahershala Ali to star. Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige announced the news at Comic-Con on Saturday as the panel’s big ending surprise. Ali also took the stage at the announcement to massive applause, donning the Blade baseball cap. Wesley Snipes previously played the half-vampire superhero in [...]

  • Doctor Strange

    'Doctor Strange' Sequel Billed as First MCU Horror Film at Comic-Con

    A sequel to “Doctor Strange” was announced as expected on Saturday at Marvel’s Comic-Con panel — what we didn’t see coming was the tone. Director Scott Derrickson said the film, titled “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” will mine the original comics and play up “the gothic, the horror.” Derrickson said it will lead [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content