Mel Brooks.

Mel Brooks, Seth MacFarlane, & More Spoke At The 2024 TCM Film Festival

For the last 15 years, film fans have gathered to Los Angeles every spring for the annual Turner Classic Movies Film Festival. Each year, there are also plenty of notable names in attendance at TCM to speak on these films, including some that have made your favorite comedies.

This year was no exception. We were on hand throughout the festival, and now we’ll take a look back at some of our favorite comedy moments from the festival.

Mel Brooks introduces "Spaceballs."

This year, they really did save the best for last. It should surprise nobody that the Mel Brooks Q and A before Spaceballs was met with an immediate standing ovation, or the fact that the theater was packed to the gills. It was a rare opportunity to see the 97 year-old legend in person. Having seen him a few times - and having interviewed him multiple times - I knew we were in for a treat. We were not let down.

Brooks has the energy of a much younger man, further illustrated by the fact that he had no walker or cane assistance. In fact, he utilized an opportunity to get up and walk amongst the stage for several minutes. I hope we all have that type of drive when we’re in our late 90’s. Brooks is an unabashed fan of TCM, saying “I don’t mind doing this. I don’t even mind that they’re not paying me.”

As for the Q and A itself, it covered a wide range of topics. Some of the things he touched on was George Lucas telling him he could make Spaceballs but not obtain any merchandising rights, some of his favorite gags in the film, his days in the borscht belt, studio notes he received on Blazing Saddles, and getting a letter from a kid saying he felt Star Wars ripped off Spaceballs.

For the 20+ minutes he was onstage, it was a reminder of why Mel Brooks is a legend, and just what sort of an impact he’s made not just on comedy and films, but on pop culture.

Seth MacFarlane Introduces Max Fleischer Cartoons.

Seth MacFarlane is one of the biggest names working in animation today, further evidenced by the fact that he’s got two shows currently on the air that are over 20 years-old at this point.

MacFarlane is not only in the industry himself, but he’s also an advocate for preserving forgotten works from the early 20th-century. This year, he founded the Seth MacFarlane Foundation, where he remains committed to preserving vintage and forgotten animated shorts. He partnered with Martin Scorsese to help make sure these films are properly restored and honored. 

MacFarlane was present at the film festival this year, talking about the importance of preservation and respecting the history of animation. He also showed 7 animated shorts that he had a hand in preserving, 6 of which were long-lost Max Fleischer cartoons. The films selected served as a perfect reminder of how far we’ve come in animation, but more than that, they all hold up and are still funny and enjoyable to this day.

Chris Lewis Introduces His Dad’s Film, "The Bellboy."

Jerry Lewis may be remembered as an important comedic figure in the 20th century, but he also made his impact on the world of film. After starring in a series of films, in 1960, Lewis stepped behind the camera for the first time. His son, Chris Lewis, was on-hand this weekend to talk about the experience.

Lewis recalled that this film, The Bellboy, was made solely because the studio wanted a Jerry Lewis summer film, and his other film was slated for a December release. So Lewis opted to make another film entirely, which he filmed for three weeks at a hotel in Florida during February 1960. He would shoot the movie during the day and perform at the hotel at night. By the end of the three weeks, he had his first completed directorial effort.

Lewis also recalled how his dad had created the video assist during production, as a way that he could direct and both act in the film and watch back what had happened. It’s a practice that became standard within the industry, and it all began with Jerry Lewis. 

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