‘Love and free food': Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner share the secrets of their 70-year friendship

‘Love and free food’: Mel Brooks(bro͝oks) and Carl(kärl) Reiner(ˈrīnər) share the secrets of their 70-year friendship

The giants of American comedy(ˈkämədē) tell Hadley Freeman about the hits they have had, the wives they miss – and why they still spend every evening together

By Hadley Freeman

Every evening, Mel Brooks leaves his home in Santa Monica(ˈmänikə), gets in his car and stares(ster) down Los Angeles’ notorious(nōˈtôrēəs) rush-hour traffic to go to Carl Reiner’s house in Beverly(ˈbevərlē) Hills(hil). There, the two comedy icons(ˈīˌkän) do what they like to do most these days: chat, eat dinner together and watch the long-running quiz(kwiz) show Jeopardy(ˈjepərdē)!

“This is a great place because I got friendship, love and free food. Free eats are very important, you know,” says Brooks, as we wait for Reiner in his den(den). His voice is a little raspier(ˈraspē) than it once was, but that signature(ˈsiɡnəCHər) puckishness(ˈpəkiSH) is fully intact(inˈtakt).

Brooks knows this home well because Reiner, 97, has lived in it for 60 years. Gene(jēn) Kelly(ˈkelē) used to be his neighbour(ˈnābər); Kirk(kərk) Douglas(ˈdəɡləs), 103, until last month, lived close by. Brooks – a mere(mir,ˈmerē) whippersnapper(ˈ(h)wipərˌsnapər) of 93 – remembers when Reiner moved in because their friendship predates(prēˈdāt,prəˈdāt) the house: they have been best friends for 70 years.

“Robbie used to sit on the stairs, looking through the banisters(ˈbanəstər), watching us do the 2000 Year Old Man. I’d say, ‘You should be sleeping!’ but he’d just sit there,” says Brooks. (Robbie is better known to those outside the inner Reiner circle(ˈsərk(ə)l) as the film director Rob Reiner, Carl’s oldest child and still a baby at 72.)