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Mel Brooks’ Debut

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“I’m fifteen! I never did this before! I’m not an actor!” That’s a Mel Brooks ad-lib from his first stage appearance. The crowd loved it. The director did not.

Mel Brooks: Make a Noise premieres nationally Monday, May 20 on PBS (check local listings)

- A guy named Don Appell, who was an actor and a director.

I would do impressions and I would try to make him laugh.

And I'd tell him jokes, and he thought I had something.

And he called somebody at the Butler Lodge and said, 'Give him a shot at it.'

I was 15, in a play called, 'Uncle Harry.'

They made me up, they gave me a wig, they gave me a beard, 'cause I'm supposed to be a little older.

A mustache, a goatee.

I was very nervous, and comes a time when I said, 'Won't you have a little water?'

The glass slipped and broke, it shattered.

There was water everywhere, on Harry, on me, on everybody.

And I didn't know what to do, so I walked down stage, faced the audience, I took off my wig and my beard, and I said, 'I'm 15, I never did this before, I'm not really an actor.'

And they screamed with laughter, and the director of the play, I think, grabbed a knife and followed me through the mountains, wanting to kill me.

But I knew then that straight plays were not for me.