GENE WILDER. The Wolrd Greatest Lover. November 22, 1977. Photo by Irv Glaser
  • Golden Globe Awards

Oral History: Gene Wilder on Being a Wet Comic

For over 40 years the HFPA has recorded famous and celebrated actresses, actors, and filmmakers. The world’s largest collection of its kind – over 10,000  items – is now in the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences Margaret Herrick Library. In 1976, close to the success of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory and Young Frankenstein, and a few months before his second Golden Globe nomination for Silver Streak, Gene Wilder talked to us about what made him laugh.

“It’s easy to make me laugh. I went to the Lido in Paris and I saw two South American comedians doing like old Henny Youngman stand-up jokes. I was on the floor. I actually fell off the chair to the floor. Corny humor. Sophisticated humor I chuckle at but really basic humor, that’s why I laugh so much at Mel Brooks. Not intellectual humor but emotional humor.I always think I’m a wet comic, not a dry comic. I appreciate wit but I don’t like to spend that much time with it. When I was a little boy DannyKaye’s Up In Arms, his first movie and his record,that his wife wrote. I thought that was the best. Now when I think back,that was very witty but then I switched to SidCaesar. I thought he was the best of them all. I still do. He and Jonathan Winters but I didn’t realize that watching Sid, it was a 21-year-old Mel Brooks who was writing for him. I was already laughing at Mel even though I didn’t know him or know who he was.The funniest comedy is still Chaplin. I love Keaton movies but I laugh at Chaplin. I appreciate Keaton but I laugh at Chaplin much more, much more.”