Mel Brooks is practicing what he preaches.
A couple of weeks after starring with son Max Brooks in a #DontBeASpreader PSA encouraging fans to practice social distancing, the 93-year-old director is sharing with CBS Sunday Morning how he and best friend Carl Reiner, 98, are staying connected in the absence of their nightly dinners.
“Every evening, Mel Brooks leaves his home in Santa Monica, gets in his car and stares down Los Angeles’s notorious rush-hour traffic to go to Carl Reiner’s house in Beverly Hills,” Guardian writer Hadley Freeman wrote in a profile about the two comedy legends in February. “There, the two comedy icons do what they like to do most these days: chat, eat dinner together and watch the long-running quiz show Jeopardy!”
In the weeks since, however, social distancing and coronavirus concerns among the elderly have put those hangouts on pause — sort of. According to their interview with CBS Sunday Morning — conducted over web chat, of course — the longtime pals are finding ways to keep up their routine.
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“We watch Jeopardy! together," Reiner said, describing a moment reminiscent of a scene from the film When Harry Met Sally, which happens to be directed by his son Rob Reiner. “Yeah, we turn on Jeopardy! at the same time, and we turn on Wheel of Fortune at the same time, and we try to guess the answers and, you know, we have fun on the phone."
The comedians — both of whom are widowers — are also trying to keep their spirits (and royalties) up.
"I am not watching the news, I am telling everybody, 'Watch old black-and-white movies,’” Brooks said. "By the way, I have a great suggestion: it's called Young Frankenstein. It'll do you a little good, and it'll do me a lotta good!"
Jokes aside, Brooks’s son, Max, from his marriage to the late actress Anne Bancroft, admitted that his famous father was struggling with the situation.
"I think there's probably no one in America right now that is finding it more difficult to socially distance than my dad," the younger Brooks shared. "He thrives on crowds. He thrives on friends, and for him to have to sit home behind glass is brutally hard on him right now. But he is doing what he has to do because he understands that."
Brooks and Reiner also offered up their perspective as Jewish men who had lived through World War II.
"Well, we won it before," said Reiner. "There was a guy named Hitler. And we're still around, and he's not!"
"We can get through this stuff; this is a breeze," said Brooks. "We just have to grin and bear it."