Recently I read ROBIN by David Itzkoff, a biography that described the comic genius and troubled life of Robin Williams. The book was thorough and replete with explanations of why Williams turned out as he did, and the role comedy played in his life. There are few people who can approach Williams’ ability to transform themselves into different characters and employ improvisation. One who might approach Williams’ talent is Mel Brooks, the subject of a wonderful new biography by Patrick McGilligan entitled, FUNNY MAN.
Brooks’ background and early life stems from the wave of Russian Jewish immigration to the United States at the turn of the 20th century. Thousands would pass through or remain on the lower east side of Manhattan or move across the Williamsburg Bridge into Brooklyn as Brooks’ family did in 1917. McGilligan describes his subject as a pampered child as the youngest…
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