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Chris Christie (2) vs. Mel Brooks; Boris Karloff advances

We had some good arguments in favor of Karloff. If I had to choose just one, it would be from J Storrs Hall, who writes:

Well, the main problem with Anastasia is … she’s dead. However, we can be relatively certain that 31 or so pretenders would show up in her place. One of them might be Godunov.

Karloff is of course also dead. Yet one has faith that if we were to patch him back together and expose him to a little lightning, he would be good to go. All we’d need would be hooks, and some wire.

Today’s matchup is the #2 seed from New Jersey, a man once jocularly referred to as a possible future Secretary of Transportation, versus an unseeded wit. Who do you want to hear from? Sure, Bridgegate is old news—but the 2000-year-old-man, that’s even older news. Either one would have lots of stories, I’m sure.

Again, the full bracket is here, and here are the rules:

We’re trying to pick the ultimate seminar speaker. I’m not asking for the most popular speaker, or the most relevant, or the best speaker, or the deepest, or even the coolest, but rather some combination of the above.

I’ll decide each day’s winner not based on a popular vote but based on the strength and amusingness of the arguments given by advocates on both sides. So give it your best!


  1. Ethan Bolker says:

    Chris cries out to be left out, Brooks brooks no denial.

  2. David Forrest says:

    Share a dinner with a guy who’d eat the meatloaf at dinner to impress his betters? I don’t think it would be an authentic experience.

    Brooks would make the evening ludicrous.

  3. Manuel says:

    OK, I have no real arguments for any of them. But advancing Brooks means Karloff vs. Brooks in the next round, so multiple opportunities to revisit “Young Frankenstein”.

  4. Jonathan (another one) says:

    Christie’s timing is bad… he just wrote a book and everything moderately entertaining is already in it.

    Brooks hasn’t directed a movie in 24 years, so he’s probably got a lot of material stored up. As a writer on 139 episodes of Your Show of Shows, it would be fascinating to have Sid Caesar and Mel Brooks face one another in the finals. Judea Pearl could diagram the causality of laughter. Brooks Caesar -> Yuks and work out the pathway to optimal amusement.

    • Jonathan (another one) says:

      It’s surely not worth it, but my elegant typography got swallowed in some HTML maw. Just imagine a graph with Brooks and Caesar with lots of back-and-forth arrows between them and a latent bubble of the live Show (with another Caesar arrow feeding into it) with an arrow coming out to a q result called Yuks. Someone better than me can separate the modifiers and the mediators. All I know is 3 Stage Least Squares.

      (And nice Christie reference, BTW, if I do say so myself.)

  5. Paul Fisher says:

    Brooks will show up and give an inatally normal presentation before it turns into pure comedic chaos. Who doesn’t want to see a dancing pack of Vice Deans swearing in Latin? Christie’s best stories won’t be told in public following his lawyer’s advice and he moved onto the cnn set anyway.

  6. Dalton says:

    Chris Christie will ruin the Q&A after by berating poor, nervous undergraduates to “Let me finish!” as he continues his steamrolling dissembling. Mel Brooks will begin to answer a question with a complete non-sequitur. Upon being gently redirected by the questioner, he will mockingly channel Chris Christie by screaming “Let me finish!” and then suddenly the long-awaited History of the World: Part II will begin playing to the delight of all.

  7. zbicyclist says:

    Both Mel Brooks and Chris Christie portrayed governors.

    Mel Brooks as Gov. William J. Le Petomane in Blazing Saddles, a blazingly successful movie.

    Chris Christie as Gov. Chris Christie in New Jersey, a production so unsuccessful he couldn’t even get a gig in Trump’s cabinet.

    As Jonathan (another one) notes, Brooks has decades of material stored up. Let’s hear it.

  8. jrc says:

    Mel Brooks: EGOT

    Chris Christie: GTFO

  9. Jeff says:

    Mel Brooks created Get Smart (along with Buck Henry), which suggests a number of seminar topics of interest to readers of this blog.

    “Missed It By That Much: Why Predictive Models Don’t Always Pick the Winner”

    “Sorry About That, Chief: Unconscious Researcher Biases”

    “I Asked You Not to Tell Me That: How Not to Respond to Replication Failures”

  10. Corey says:

    Iffy on Brooks — is the chance of a Spaceballs-caliber performance worth the risk of a Life Stinks stinker? Christie might enjoy the opportunity to dish on certain recent events; with him we could get tales on the whole spectrum from Spaceballs to Life Stinks and beyond.

  11. Jonathan says:

    Mel live and in person is one of the handful of funniest human beings ever because he’s a sponge for every level and kind of joke. He is the great combiner across the comic spectrum, uniting the basest levels of slapstick to the most intellectual. Most joke writers think of material and then they target the audience level. Mel instead takes the same material and targets every audience level. That’s risky because the intellectuals get offended by the crude and the crude get offended by the intellectual. He found his way out of that pickle by exploring the boundaries of taste: when the monster climbs on top of Madeleine Kahn and she starts singing Oh Sweet Mystery of Life, that isn’t just a sex joke because it explores male humiliation in which the monster finally has the hard one she suddenly realizes she needs so it isn’t just submission but what only Madeleine could do so well, which is the sudden realization that oh my God I want it which Mel is saying is inside a woman both literally and intellectually. He actually thinks about this stuff. It’s a more sophisticated take on the same joke in Blazing Saddles, down to the monster wearing a tuxedo.

    What can you say about a man who stages the Spanish Inquisition as an Esther Williams musical number? The sexless nobility of the nuns mirrors the sexless nobility of the bathing beauties of the MGM films. I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t hit on the idea through the name Esther: ‘Esther, that’s a Jewish name but she’s the ultimate shiksah that you …’

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