Mel Brooks and Dick Cavett: A dream team
WHEN | WHERE Friday at 9 p.m. on HBO.
REASON TO WATCH The title says it all.
WHAT IT'S ABOUT In December, Cavett and Brooks appeared together at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills to exchange stories, jokes, reminiscences and history. This onstage meet was hardly happenstance. Forty years earlier, Brooks had appeared on "The Dick Cavett Show," where the two Natural Born Raconteurs discovered a bond. In this special, they recount days gone by, of old Hollywood, the Catskills, early TV, a long forgotten Ballantine beer commercial, Alfred Hitchcock, and the genesis of "The 2,000 Year Old Man" -- Brooks' comedy skit with Carl Reiner that yielded a handful of bestselling comedy albums in the early '60s. (Reiner makes an appearance, too.)
MY SAY We all know someone or wish we knew someone or are lucky enough to be someone who can tell stories with the ease and sheer brilliance of a shooting star. That Brooks, a demonstrably great comic genius, and Cavett, one of TV's legendary talk-show hosts, should have such gifts will come as a surprise to no one. But keep in mind, these two legends are not young saplings; they have 159 years of show-biz experience between them, and listening to some of these stories, you get the sense they were hitting Chasen's even while in their infancy. There's no reference to vaudeville, but they come close. There is an Ancien Régime aura to this hour. References are made to giants, like Frank Sinatra, Cary Grant and even Tallulah Bankhead. You nod your head in abject appreciation but will also find yourself wondering whether they actually have any stories about the living. In this format, Brooks probably has the slight edge if only because he has such a razor-sharp reaction time. When the audience erupts in sporadic applause to some reference of a Brooks film, he gently chides them to stop: "Either a lot or nothing."
BOTTOM LINE How could you possibly go wrong with these two? You couldn't.