It's springtime for Mel Brooks and Hollywood.
The comedy legend was feted Thursday with the 41st AFI Life Achievement Award, one of Tinseltown's highest honors, at a tribute gala that saw him toasted and roasted by the likes of Cloris Leachman, Billy Crystal, Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Amy Poehler, and Larry David, among others.
The 86-year-old Brooks—one of the few entertainers with an EGOT to his name, having won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony—is the mastermind behind such comedy hits as The Producers, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein and Spaceballs.
And some may be surprised to learn that aside from writing, acting and directing, the funnyman also produced acclaimed dramas including The Elephant Man and The Fly.
The ceremony got off to a rollicking start with Martin Short belting out Brooks' classic song from The Producers, "Springtime for Hitler." Then, his fellow luminaries took the stage—or, in the case of longtime collaborator Gene Wilder, appeared via video to share their reflections on his storied career.
"I'm so honored to be here tonight," Poehler said on stage during the show. "I'm one of the younger presenters of the evening, believe it or not. This is embarrassing to admit but I thought we were honoring Mel B from the Spice Girls."
Meanwhile, De Niro joked, "I've never been in a Mel Brooks movie. Never gotten a call for one. Never even had an audition. That alone puts Mel Brooks in the company of such revered directors as Woody Allen, Steven Spielberg and Russ Meyer. Your loss Mel."
Sarah Silverman grilled Brooks about his Jewish religion. While, praising all that Brooks has done for the film industry, she cracked, "We also learned from another Mel, Mel Gibson, he taught us never drink and hate Jews."
"I don't think there's any man anywhere who's like you," said the veteran actor, who starred in several of Brooks' classics, most notably Young Frankenstein. "I love you, Mel."
The AFI's tribute to Brooks is scheduled to air on TNT Saturday, June 15.