Mel Brooks

American comedian Mel Brooks overcame a childhood of abuse from his peers (he was small and sickly) by taking on the comically aggressive job of "toomler" in various Catskills resorts. For very little money but a great deal of personal satisfaction Brooks kept the resort clientele happy by performing quickie monologues and routines, pretending to insult both the help and the customers, and when all else failed, jumping fully clothed into the swimming pool. Applying for the writing staff of TV comedian Sid Caesar Brooks literally fell to his knees and sang a song about himself. Before he was 30, Brooks was earning $2500 per show writing for Caesar, in collaboration with such formidable wits as Neil Simon, Woody Allen and Carl Reiner. Though the work was grueling, it was the best formal education that any comedian could have.

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