What Makes Mel Brooks Laugh?

With a new PBS documentary tracing his career, the legendary comic breaks down what’s funny now

Mel Brooks is honored with AFI's 41st Annual Life Achievement Award in Hollywood. Credit: Mark Davis/WireImage

"Jesus Christ, I'm not an American Master," says Mel Brooks. "I'm not even a Dutch Master!" The 86-year-old comedy icon is explaining his reluctance to participate in the career retrospective for PBS' American Masters series titled "Mel Brooks: Make a Noise," premiering May 20th. Brooks likes to keep current, so we asked him what he's enjoying right now.

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Stand-Up Hero
"I love Louis C.K. – whatever he does is, to me, thoroughly, bitterly honest. Stupidly honest, sometimes. And really uniquely funny. He's a human observer. He observes our foibles and what we're made of. And he's very good at just laying it out."

TV's Best Hour
"Personally, I stay away from political humor, but I try never to miss Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart. They're brave and funny. I don't know how Colbert does it, playing this right-wing wacko and still making significant points about humanity."

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Funny Girl
"Wreck-It Ralph – it's a little cartoon I watched with my grandson. Sarah Silverman plays this character, Vanellope, in Wreck-It Ralph, and she's absolutely sensational. She's so bright and funny. She should've gotten a medal for that."

The Entertainer
"Quentin Tarantino's a brave guy. He doesn't care about the historical truth – he's liable to do a story about Abraham Lincoln and run him over with a Buick! If I were him, I would say, 'My first obligation is to entertain,' and I'd say to him, 'Bravo, you're right.'"

This story is from the May 23rd, 2013 issue of Rolling Stone.