Dearest Mel... Mr Brooks... Can I call you Mel?
You’ve been a part of my life for so long that I feel like I know you. I grew up with an older brother and sister so I was introduced to the wonder, the hilarity and the genius that is Mervin - I mean, Melvin Brooks from an early age. Let’s just say that ‘Spaceballs’ was on high rotation in my household as a youngster. I'm not writing to you to ask for an autograph (I already know what your name is), money (although if you had some spare lying around I wouldn’t say no) or anything like that (but if you happen to have a 'Spaceballs' flame thrower squirrelled away)... No, no, I just want to tell you I love ya, and to heap praise upon your glorious self - especially this being the 25th anniversary of ‘Robin Hood: Men in Tights’ and all. The letter that follows won't be particularly eloquent (not my style) or ridiculously sycophantic (hopefully a little sycophantic is okay), it’s simply a letter. Literally the least I can do for a man that has given me and the comedy-loving world so much.
I mentioned before that ‘Spaceballs’ had a starring role in my home life. It’s just one movie three unique and individual siblings shared a common and unrelenting love for. However, growing up on the playground it was ‘Robin Hood: Men in Tights’ that brought about new friendships. Endless, cackle-filled reenactments of the song and choreography and sounding off on our favourite quotes filled our lunchtimes and recesses. Even now, it’s hard to come across a day that doesn’t feature a ‘Men in Tights’/Brooks-ism. The two years Tony Abbott was our Prime Minister (did I mention I was Australian?) were fun - “Hey Abbott!”
Having said that, my current boss is a woman named Robin, and every time I see her it’s a struggle not to say, “Master Robin, you lost your arms in battle. But you grew some nice boobs.” Somehow I don't think that would go down very well. I do catch myself calling her Master Robin on occasion though. Despite this almost daily hindrance, I would like to sincerely thank you for your masterful and joy-inducing words.
I would also like to thank you on behalf of most women, and let’s face it, most men too for giving the world Cary Elwes in tights. For the previous six years we had to live off Mr Elwes in his tight black pants from ‘The Princess Bride’. Don’t get me wrong, we were satisfied - very satisfied - but then in all your infinite wisdom you delivered on a silver platter something we didn't know we always wanted - Cary in tight tight tights. You also saw potential in a wet-behind-the-ears Dave Chapelle. We couldn’t see what he could become, but you could - or perhaps it was because of you, in some small way. This was his first feature film, after all. It was you who put him on that giant screen for all to see and begin our obsession that has continued to this day. And what about Issac Hayes! Sure, he’d been around for a while, but ‘Men in Tights’ has formed part of his legacy, years before he ever uttered the words “Hello, children.” Then there’s the dearly departed Roger Rees and the marvellous Ms Tracey Ullman - which reminds me, “I touched it” is another quote that gets a daily run in Jessville.
When ‘Men in Tights’ first came out do you think I knew what a Mohel was? Hell no. I was nine! I barely knew what a penis was.
Fitting of the true master filmmaker that you are, none of your movies age. They may change over the years, but they never fade. As the audience gets older, they start to get more from each viewing. When ‘Men in Tights’ first came out, do you think I knew what a Mohel was? Hell no. I was nine! I barely knew what a penis was. I didn’t “get” that scene for... well, longer than I’ll admit to. I also had no idea what a latrine was, or the meaning of chastity let alone why it would require an entire belt/metal underwear - or more importantly, why it would chafe someone’s willy. All those jokes and many, many, many, many more, completely lost on me for years, and yet the movie still made my stomach ache from laughing so hard. Ahchoo, what a funny name.
I would also like to mention that on several occasions over the years I have tried my hand at archery. Because I think it’s cool? Sort of. Trendy? Definitely. Fun? Eh, I’ve injured myself in ways you wouldn’t believe. Perhaps it’s a bit too athletic for me. No, my main goal is to one day scream out, “He split Robin’s arrow in twain!” and then my life will be complete. Again, as an adolescent, did I know what “twain” meant? Of course not, but I did ascertain through your film that it was two. See, you’ve taught me so much!
And so my dear Mel, with these final word I say too-ta-loo. Au revoir. Auf wiedersehen. Ciao. Ding dao dai. And thank you. Thank you for the last 25 years and ‘Robin Hood: Men in Tights’. Thank you for the 30 years before it and the many years afterwards. You are one of a kind.
Love Jess xoxo