February 19, 2014 7:27am PT by Ashley Lee
Mel Brooks Pays Tribute to Sid Caesar: 'He Gave Everything He Possibly Could' (Video)
Brooks said he came on because of the comedian's heartfelt monologue, and wanted to celebrate his life together.
He noted that he had visited Caesar at his home just months before he passed away. "He looked at me and said, 'Mel Brooks, Mel Brooks, what a career, what a career -- you went from me to Hitler!'" said Brooks, who wrote The Producers after working with Caesar on many projects. "Still funny, still glorious. He was such an incredible guy."
The late-night host then highlighted Caesar's particular ability to "double-talk in any language -- he didn't know the language, but he could pretend," and Brooks confirmed that Caesar would often do so off-set, even when at a restaurant.
"The waiter knew there was some French there, but he couldn't make any sense out of it," said Brooks with laughter. "Sid never stopped, he was relentless!"
O'Brien then screened a sketch called "The German General," co-starring Howie Morris and written by Brooks,
that spotlighted Caesar's German double-talk, and gave the shtick a shot of his own.
Brooks also shared why Caesar stuck to small-screen endeavors like Your Show of Shows and Caesar's Hour rather than accompanying him to Hollywood and making more movies -- a move Brooks often suggested.
"I said, you're a legitimate comic genius, and no one will ever remember what the hell you did, seriously, unless we go -- let's make movies," he told Caesar. "I said, quit. You've done two years, you got another two-year contract coming up, just tell them, 'Thank you, it's been wonderful,' and just have the guts and quit. Let's go to Hollywood and make movies and be remembered, and have your stuff literally immortalized. Be on the big screen forever. He said, 'Yes, you're right.'"
But Brooks said that when Caesar went to deliver the news of his leave, his pay jumped from about $5,000 a week to $25,000 a show, and that Caesar promised he would pursue film later on in his career.
"Unfortunately, he was so good, the show ran for ten years and by then, the ship had sailed," said Brooks. "He had given everything that he possibly could."
Brooks still attributes the success of his career to Caesar, whom he endearingly called "Sydney."
"I said, 'No Sid Caesar, No Mel Brooks.' And I meant it. I sincerely meant it."
Watch the interview clips below: