Brooks is generous with his praise and steadfast in his belief that no comedy icon ever achieves great heights alone ... Brooks writes both like a man grateful for his blessings and one unwilling to saddle his final years with regret. As a consequence, few words are devoted to more solemn subjects, such as Bancroft’s death from cancer in 2005, but many are shared in service to deconstructing some of his most cherished material. In fact, it is these passages, dedicated to such topics as the enduring humor of flatulating cowboys...that ultimately shine the brightest. Delivered with Brooks’ indefatigable brand of silly, slyly brilliant wit, his revelations on the craft of comedy serve as the backbone of a memoir that deals equally in punch lines and pearls of wisdom. A wonderful addition to a seminal career, All About Me! is not only a worthy summary of all Mel Brooks has achieved but also a lasting testament to the laughs he’s had along the way.
Brooks...does not concern himself in these pages with changing norms in the industry that has rewarded him so handsomely. Perhaps named for All About Eve but less of a bumpy night than a joy ride, All About Me! takes humor as an absolute value ... Its 460 pages rattle along like an extended one-liner ... As the old song goes, he accentuates the positive.
As advertised, All About Me! is a narrowly focused celebration of a poor Jewish kid who grew up from Brooklyn street corner jokester to become synonymous with hearty laughter and naughty chuckles. It’s a surprisingly gentle remembrance from a comedian known for mocking anything considered sacred in America ... His all-too-brief discussions about the business side of the movie business—he demanded foreign rights to his later pictures and was rewarded with more money than he earned domestically—are welcome asides. Anyone looking for introspection will be disappointed. While Brooks celebrates his reputation for 'dangerous' comedy, he’s taking no chances with today’s hot topics ... Yes, too much of All About Me! is self-congratulatory—if Brooks isn’t praising himself, he quotes others praising him—and, yes, recounting plots and casts for his films comes off as superficial. His memoir works best, which is more often than not, as a look back in laughter from a man who isn’t through trying to make us gasp for breath.
... [a] bouyant memoir ... He is never one to restrain himself from quoting praise ... When he slows down he offers tremendous insights into his work ... He brilliantly catches a lost world of postwar showbusiness, describing the writers’ room coffee and doughnuts, the deli bagels and lox, the smell of cigar smoke and bananas Foster. You can almost feel the red velvet banquettes. He’s astute on the structure of his comedy too, tying it in to the fact he was also a drummer ... The chapters on his most successful films are generous to the performers around him ... It’s testament to Brooks that you read All About Me! in his voice, but you can’t help wondering what masterpiece of comic writing he might have created if he’d applied his History of the World, Part One strategies to his own past. Instead he’s happy to describe things as 'hilarious' without necessarily making them so. After reading this book it’s hard not to fall into Brooks’s punchy style and phrase everything like a cinema poster tagline—and sure enough, if you like Brooks, you’ll love this.
There’s a priceless opening shtick about seeing Frankenstein as a boy ... The other childhood stuff is fairly mundane ... Brooks seems to have little self-awareness when it comes to his own behaviour ... Brooks was simply one of life’s 'wild beasts', he says, but doesn’t look further into why certain clowns might have a touch of the sociopath, or just be a pain in the tuchus. He’s good at remembering where jokes came from...but heavy weather when recalling gags and routines ... This is a book that is constantly corpsing. He’s not so hot at theorising, either ... Not enough, alas, to make this an essential read. Among the minute recollections of each of his movies, there’s the odd morsel you may not have known ... this is not the most gratifying read. Go back to his best movies instead: they’re sometimes uncomfortably dated, in places as creaky as Brooks’s knees must be. But you’d have to be Hedy Lamarr not to find them funny.
Brooks attacks his autobiography with a wholly characteristic lack of modesty. Some fans may feel they’ve heard much of this before ... Still, for those who maintain their fondness for Brooks, All About Me! is an indispensable culmination of his work (copious helpings of legendary dialogue from the films and shows don’t hurt) ... Many memoirs seek to score points off perceived adversaries. Brooks, who has certainly cultivated a healthy ego, does the opposite ... Where the book comes up short is in any exploration of doubt, introspection or analysis. Brooks’s career has had its ups and downs, for sure ... hand-wringing is simply not a part of Brooks’s sunny disposition. Indeed, the book’s most rewarding chapters are its earliest, with Brooks’s accounts of Depression-era Brooklyn and the European front of World War II (and the early days of television, for that matter). This isn’t Clifford Odets or Norman Mailer, but an epic adventure of possibility and positivity.
Though there’s no real impropriety—or even many new stories—the book at times seems to be a response to allegations made elsewhere. Patrick McGilligan’s 2019 biography Funny Man painted a picture of Brooks with a fuse as short as his stature and an inveterate stealer of credit ... And so, Brooks’ own account at times becomes not much more than a list of credits—and not just his own ... Episodes of Melvin Kaminsky, the youngest of four boys raised by a single widowed mother, are the most vivid parts of the book, not weighed down by a litany of film and production dates or the onus of cameos at a studio commissary ... [His time in the Army] and the glimpses into Sid Caesar’s writing room make for the book’s best stuff, with the filmmaking largely resembling an IMDB trivia—or even quotes—page. The stuff that hasn’t been public, or at least is tough to find, makes the book worthwhile ... If you are interested in how Mel Brooks views himself, this book is indispensable. For the rest of us, the movies are enough.
Brooks is truly a legend of American comedy, and though it has taken him 95 years to write his memoir, it was certainly worth the wait ... a narrative filled with hilarious digressions ... Brooks has told many of these stories countless times over the years, but they remain as funny and endearing as ever, especially when presented in the full context of his life. It’s a story told by an inveterate writer in a wonderfully conversational style, with a hint of childlike wonder ... A must-read for fans of comedy, film, and theater.
The subtitle for Brooks’ rose-colored autobiography could have been It’s a Wonderful Life. Even events that might have distressed others get a positive spin ... He goes into depth about his own films and shows, but it would have been nice to hear more about the excellent movies his production company made, including The Elephant Man and My Favorite Year. Brooks is a national treasure who’s not shy to admit it, and his laugh-filled memories mix with an optimism that fans will find almost contagious.
In this laugh-a-minute memoir, actor and producer Brooks...looks back at his rise through Hollywood, gleefully doling out punch lines along the way ... Studded with snickering asides and rapid-fire jokes, Brooks’s account of making it in show biz is just as sidesplitting as his movies.
Brooks (b. 1926) has been dining out on the anecdotes in this book for decades ... There’s lots of delightful material, even if it’s well rehearsed ... The author’s anecdotes about early life in Depression-era Brooklyn are charming, as are his notes on the dawn of TV. He also dishes nice dirt on the making of his films, some of which seemed to proceed by accident ... Though the book is sometimes labored, if you want to know about the making of 'the greatest farting scene in cinematic history,' here’s your source. Fans of Borscht Belt shtick and classic comedies will enjoy Brooks’ stroll into the past.