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Funny Man

Mel Brooks
Narrated by: Stephen Hoye
Length: 21 hrs and 23 mins
3.5 out of 5 stars (34 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A deeply textured and compelling biography of comedy giant Mel Brooks, covering his rags-to-riches life and triumphant career in television, films, and theater, from Patrick McGilligan, the acclaimed author of Young Orson: The Years of Luck and Genius on the Path to Citizen Kane and Alfred Hitchcock: A Life in Darkness and Light.

Oscar, Emmy, Tony, and Grammy award-winner Mel Brooks was behind (and sometimes in front of the camera, too) some of the most influential comedy hits of our time, including The 2,000 Year Old Man, Get Smart, The Producers, Blazing Saddles, and Young Frankenstein. But before this actor, writer, director, comedian, and composer entertained the world, his first audience was his family. 

The fourth and last child of Max and Kitty Kaminsky, Mel Brooks was born on his family’s kitchen table in Brooklyn, New York, in 1926, and was not quite three years old when his father died of tuberculosis. Growing up in a household too poor to own a radio, Mel was short and homely, a mischievous child whose birth role was to make the family laugh. 

Beyond boyhood, after transforming himself into Mel Brooks, the laughs that came easily inside the Kaminsky family proved more elusive. His lifelong crusade to transform himself into a brand name of popular humor is at the center of master biographer Patrick McGilligan’s Funny Man. In this exhaustively researched and wonderfully novelistic look at Brooks’ personal and professional life, McGilligan lays bare the strengths and drawbacks that shaped Brooks’ psychology, his willpower, his persona, and his comedy. 

McGilligan insightfully navigates the epic ride that has been the famous funnyman’s life story, from Brooks’s childhood in Williamsburg tenements and breakthrough in early television - working alongside Sid Caesar and Carl Reiner - to Hollywood and Broadway peaks (and valleys). His audiobook offers a meditation on the Jewish immigrant culture that influenced Brooks, snapshots of the golden age of comedy, behind-the-scenes revelations about the celebrated shows and films, and a telling look at the four-decade romantic partnership with actress Anne Bancroft that superseded Brooks’ troubled first marriage. 

Engrossing, nuanced, and ultimately poignant, Funny Man delivers a great man’s unforgettable life story and an anatomy of the American dream of success.

©2019 Patrick McGilligan (P)2019 HarperCollins Publishers

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  • Overall
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Fascinating Biography of Mel Brooks

Funny Man is a brutal biography of Mel Brooks. While the author, Patrick McGilligan demonstrates Brooks’s genius as a gifted writer, comedian, song writer and producer, McGilligan also unveils how Mel Brooks used people, abused and cheated on his first wife and refused to support her and their three children. I found the narrative a little too brutal but I also felt that the author felt He needed to unmask who the “ real Mel Brooks is”! I think the book is worth reading.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Narrator is distractingly awful

He reads every sentence as it if were a standalone item -- no context or consideration for what came before it or after it. Very, very odd.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Great story but no love letter.

No hold bared."I didn't get a harumph out of that guy" "WATCH YOUR ASS!" .. love you no matter what Mel!

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Rushed and opinionated

I appreciate the honesty of this biography. Mel Brooks is an extremely funny man, but he does have a large ego and he treats business as business. The early part of his career felt very in-depth. The second act of his life and career felt rushed and it felt like a rinse and repeat for each movie or project he was involved with. The author is very honest and I like that, but I don't like how he throws in his own opinions. He tends to make sure to touch upon the bad parts of Mel Brooks after a triumph to remind us that Mel is a flawed person, but he seems to do that at odd times, almost like he never wants to give the subject a win.

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This book needs to be abridged

Gave up on it - In my opinion ( an average, enthusiastic fan of the great comedian / author) there’s just way too much background on Mel Brooks for the average listener.

Sure all of the back story is vital to shaping the man we know and love- I just didn’t find it all that interesting ( I need a lot of movement in the books I read)

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Warts and all story of a comic legend.

No holds barred coverage of a legendary writer and performer. Well researched and detailed telling of a fascinating life story. Plenty of behind the scenes stories to whet any fan's interest.