Mel Brooks is an iconic comedian, filmmaker and member of the elite EGOT winners list. Now, the 90-year-old actor is also a recipient of the National Medal of Arts, awarded to him by President Barack Obama “for a lifetime of making the world laugh.”
The honor was bestowed upon him for pioneering the art of musical comedy in his “hilarious and thought-provoking work on film and in theater, which have earned him the rare distinction of winning Oscar, Emmy, Tony and Grammy awards,” per the White House statement. Upon receiving his medal, the comedian dropped down and, in what reports are saying, pretended to pants Obama or fall down from the weight of the medal, before shaking his hand. Watch the clip below.
Pres. Obama awards the 2015 National Medal of Arts to Mel Brooks "for a lifetime of making the world laugh." https://t.co/bGsVe1NLg6
— ABC News (@ABC) September 22, 2016
Later that night, Obama also joked with “The Producers” star and warned him that he would catch him if he tried to sell the medal on eBay. He also told the audience, “Mel Brooks kind of set the tone for this thing. Historically, this has been a much more staid affair.”
Among the other 24 honorees of the National Medals of Arts and Humanities were Morgan Freeman, authors Sandra Cisneros, Ron Chernow, Rudolfo Anaya and James McBride, and Motown producer Berry Gordy and composer Philip Glass.
“We believe that the arts and the humanities are in many ways reflective of our national soul. They’re central to who we are as Americans: dreamers and storytellers and innovators and visionaries,” Obama stated. ”They’re what help us make sense of the past — the good and the bad — and how we chart a course for the future.”
Freeman was unfortunately unable to attend the ceremony and in his absence Obama joked that the actor “undoubtedly is off playing a black president again.” Adding, “He never lets me have my moment.”