American Film Institute Doctorate of Fine Arts
I’m very honored and I’m very happy… and bitterly disappointed. When I was offered this award, I thought I was going to become a doctor, so I went out and got a stethoscope.
A word of advice is to writers, if you really don’t feel it, if you’re really not moved emotionally, if you feel they’ll like it, don’t write it. If you don’t laugh when you’re writing comedy –if it doesn’t make you laugh– don’t write it. Don’t say to yourself, ‘this is funny. They’ll like it’. That’s bullshit, it will never work. If you don’t laugh, nobody will laugh.
If AFI put me on the map, which they certainly did, Mel Brooks put me on top of a beautiful mountain. He called me a madman, and he called me Jimmy Stewart from Mars, but he’s the crazy one. He picked me having made only one feature film to go over to London, England to direct a Victorian drama starring Anne Bancroft, Sir John Gielgud, Dame Wendy Hiller, Anthony Hopkins, and John Hurt to name a few. It was my great good fortune that Mel had this kind of insanity.