- TV trailers
History of the World Part II promises more of the kind of genre parody that made Mel Brooks famous.
Riding the ponytails and intentionally bad wigs of classic Mel Brooks comedy/parody History of the World Part I, the official trailer for History of the World Part II dropped this week and promises more culturally inappropriate laughs. and historically irreverent that characterized his 1981 film. Starting with the first track of the teaser, in which the co-writer/executive producer subtly pokes fun at the alleged senility of his age, and launching into a Catholic Church marketing meeting, Hulu delivers a fever dream about two minutes of a preview of an all-star ensemble featuring Danny DeVito, Johnny Knoxville, Seth Rogan, Wanda Sykes and Taika Waititi. Cut after cut, the teaser features historical figures indulging in the quick deadpan banter, physical comedy gags and hysteria that characterize Mel Brooks’ outrageous sense of humor. So stay focused, or you might miss it.
Known for an empire of blockbuster feature films in the 70s and 80s that relied on stupidity, absurdity, taboo, kitsch and grossness in the art of sending, Brooks alternately parodied science -Hollywood fiction, Broadway and classic horror and Western genres in his films. This includes his History of the World Part I, which sent the epic itself and featured a cast of historical figures played by actors like Cloris Leachman, Dom DeLuise, Hugh Hefner, Gregory Hines and Madeline Kahn (and narrated by Orson Welles). Brooks deals with the irreverent juxtaposition of things taken very seriously. Yet while parodying well-known stereotypes, religions, literature, and historical figures across the genre, Brooks keeps his irreverent commentary immersed in the present moment. “If it was on Netfish,” says a man dressed in an outfit that looks like a follower of Jesus in the new teaser, “I would cancel my subscription.”
A sequel in the works for 40 years
“When you parody something, you displace the truth,” Brooks wrote in a recent memoir covered by The New Yorker. The Hulu teaser promises themes touching on racism, reality TV, sports commentary, mommy jokes, and gamer-style male self-aggrandizement (even if it’s about Jesus Christ). Rather than a movie, Part II will feature a four-part series on Hulu in 2023. And, as usual with all Mel Brooks films, Brooks will make an appearance himself. “Probably more than anyone, Brooks embodied 20th-century American Jewish comedy,” wrote Michael Schulman, the kind that characterizes “a kvetchy Jewish guy show[ing] where it doesn’t belong…” And also getting away with stuff where it doesn’t belong.
From banking on actor Gene Wilder’s zaniness in The Producers to the unprecedented grossness of Blazing Saddles, many of Brooks’ classic films ignored the content requests Studio executives made — then later forgot to make, according to his 2022 interview with The New Yorker. Instead, Brooks just said yes to the Powers That Be and did what he wanted to do anyway. His generational influence on breaking taboos is palpable in co-star comedians like Sarah Silverman and Johnny Knoxville. Likewise, the revolutionary long shadow Brooks casts over the parody genre likely influenced other comedians in this all-star cast, some recognizable for their breakout roles decades ago on the MTV sketch show. The State. Indeed, History of the World Part I may have come out just as they were coming of age in comedy.
History of the World Part II will arrive to make fun of several decades this March 6 on Hulu.