It’s a common refrain: Mel Brooks, mastermind of the comedies “The Producers” and “Space Balls,” never could Mel Brooks movie in today’s climate. Well, Mel Brooks made a Mel Brooks series, Hulu’s “History of the World II. part’ in this climate.
Nick Kroll, executive producer, star and director of the upcoming eight-episode sequel to 1981’s “A History of the World, Part I,” told TV critics that the notion of changing times is overblown. “I don’t think navigating comedy right now is as complicated as people would like to think,” Kroll said at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour on Saturday. “You just have to be funny.”
Fortunately for Kroll, he and Brooks are very funny. Just like the dozens of other comedians and comedic actors who jumped at the chance to work with Brooks, their shared comedy hero. And while he may not be able to use some of the words that were available for “Flaming Saddles” these days, the targets are sure.
“Mel’s ultimate goal was always to make fun of those in power and how greedy and stupid they were,” Kroll said. “So when we’re doing a show about history now, when we’re re-examining what the past was (and) how things went down, it was very easy for me to continue Mel’s legacy of making fun of those who were present. force. And that really became our guiding light.”
That’s not to say that the cutting room floor (or at least the writing room floor) wasn’t littered with things that might have gone a little too far for 2023. “Sure, there was,” Kroll said. There are also measures to avoid stifling overtly offensive and comedic creativity. “Whatever room we’re in, just try to create an open and honest space,” Kroll said. So you create a “safe word” like, “Ah, that makes me feel a little itchy.”
“Then you examine it and realize: Is that a joke you’re telling?” Do you use the words? This is the goal?” he continued. “I personally think there is still something to be said and done in comedy now crazy things—you just have to think a little more about how and why you say them.”
Wanda Sykes and Ike Barinholtz also star, write and executive produce “History of the World, Part II.” Here are some more from the killer guest cast: Pamela Adlon, Tim Baltz, Zazie Beetz, Jillian Bell, Quinta Brunson, Dove Cameron, D’Arcy Carden, Ronny Chieng, Rob Corddry, Danny DeVito, David Duchovny, Hannah Einbinder, Jay Ellis, Josh Gad, Kimiko Glenn, Brandon Kyle Goodman, Jake Johnson, Richard Kind, Johnny Knoxville, Lauren Lapkus, Jenifer Lewis, Poppy Liu, Joe Lo Truglio, Jason Mantzoukas, Ken Marino, Jack McBrayer, Zahn McClarnon, Charles Melton, Kumail Nanjiani, Brock O’Hurn, Andrew Rannells, Emily Ratajkowski, Sam Richardson, Nick Robinson, Seth Rogen, Sarah Silverman, Timothy Simons, JB Smoove, David Wain, Taika Waititi, Reggie Watts and Tyler James Williams. Jack Black is also there with Joseph Sztálin, Kroll happily revealed at the TCA.
Hulu’s “History of the World, II. part” will premiere on Monday, March 6 with two episodes. After that, two new episodes will be released daily, with the finale airing on Thursday, March 9.
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