If you told anyone Mel Brooks fan, we finally got a long-awaited sequel even three years ago History of the World, Part I, the epic spoof film that took audiences throughout human history, would probably call you crazy. But, in 2023, finally, this vision is a reality, and what is expected History of the World, IIit’s finally here, shepherded by writers, stars and executive producers Wanda Sykes, Nick Kroll, and Ike Barinholtz.
The series continues the tradition Brooks started by framing each episode as a series of sketches covering the entire history of civilization, and then some. Among the many, many stories, The Civil War, The Russian Revolution, and The Last Supper are Beatles-style taping-session stories, all directed by the showrunner creator. David Stassen and the director Alice Mathias. Along with Kroll, Sykes and Barinholtz, they helped bring to life the idea of Harriet Tubman running the real Underground Railroad, Princess Anastasia in the 20th century. An Ancestry-style service that determines whether or not someone is related to a child as a 20th-century agent. Kublai Khan.
Collider was excited to sit down with Stassen and Mathias to talk about the show, and they got involved. In that interview, they discussed how the show came about, Mel Brooks’ first films, and how the show’s crazy structure came together, both on set and in the editing room.
Check out the interview in the player above, or read the transcript below and check it out World History, II. the partStreaming on Hulu.
COLLIDER: Mel Brooks has obviously been an influential figure in both film and television, all the way back to Sid Caesar in the ’50s. So what was your first exposure to him, whether it was a movie, a TV show, what have you?
DAVID STASSEN: It was World History on VHS tape, and then it was Blazing saddles and Young Frankenstein and then those three movies were kind of circulating in my house until I saw the first Mel Brooks movie in the theater, that is. Space balls. So I grew up… it was definitely my first comedic influence [it was] really, really surreal to get to work with him many decades later.
ALICE MATHIAS: Yeah, I’ve probably had a similar experience to Dave, even though my house was actually a Robin Hood: Men in Stockings place And I think I was also a big fan Get smart. And actually, separately, we did it as a play in eighth grade and I played Agent 99, which was the height of my comedy career to this day. So anyway, he was always an icon in my mind.
Yes, Alice, you were the first person… I’ve asked everyone that [and] you were the first person to grow up Robin Hood: Men in Stockingswhich one and Space balls they were mine, so I was glad to finally hear someone say that. But I know this started out as an idea that Mel had and then she brought in Nick and Wanda and then Ike and you, David. But how did the rest come about? Especially you, Alice? How did you get into this?
MATHIAS: Well, I just got an interview with these guys, a Zoom interview in the middle of the pandemic when I was like, “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe how lucky I am to have a meeting about this.” But I mean, I think the ambition was for the show to be a sketch show, which is obviously different than Mel’s movie. And I’ve done a lot of sketch comedy, I’ve worked on it Portlandiaand Documentary now!and I think you should leave, and many other shows. And I think these guys were looking for a sketch director, so I was on the list.
STASSEN: Yeah, we’re targeting Alice and we just… love her work. I think you should leave it’s the greatest sketch show out there right now, and we wrote this big, massive thing with a big scope, and the Civil War and Jesus and Mary and the Russian Revolution, and we wanted a cinematic feel, and we knew Alice could do that. and also make comedy of the things in the scenes.
And this is, I think, a kind of outdoor show, for lack of a better word. It takes so many periods of time. I talked to Wanda and Ike, and they told me that several things ended up on the cutting room floor. But David, in terms of putting things together, how did you guys decide what those big bosses would be that ended up in multiple episodes, or what kind of things you wanted to work on in general?
STASSEN: So before we put the room together, we knew what our tentpoles were going to be, and we kind of built the show around these ideas, these thirty-five page sketches that were going to be longer. split it into different sections and then pepper them, and put occasional drafts between them. And then there was a lot of editing, putting the puzzle together. How do we bounce around the world? How do we deal with rebound times? We don’t have America’s 20th century. want to limit it to the century, too many drafts in a row, or any era. And then how do you remind the audience what happened the last time we saw General Grant, or the last time we saw Schmuck and his wife? So it was writing. There was a shooting, and then a big post office was built.
Was there anything, for either of you, that you filmed, Alice, or anything that you wrote, that ended up on the cutting room floor, that you wish had ended up on the show?
MATHIAS: I mean, I shouldn’t say this, but I want a whole Beatles episode: Get Back [parody]. At one point in the editing process, I was like, “I want to see that 21-minute version of this,” because we had so much material, and to me, it was endless fun and fun. What a great cast. Everyone brought something to it. JB Smoove was a lot of fun. Richard Kind was very funny. Jay Ellis, Zazie Beetz, they were amazing. The musical aspect of it was really fun, and I’d love to see a whole episode of it. And believe me, we had the material for that. But it’s okay. You have to make some choices.
STASSEN: Yeah, I mean, I’m lucky. I think we got what we wanted. I mean, because episodes can be 22 or 26 minutes. Hulu gave us some freedom. I don’t think we should have cut anything. I think we should use all the good things.
I like to end with a couple of silly questions, but as a history nerd and someone who grew up loving it World history Part OneIf you could go back to any historical period or talk to any historical figure, who would it be?
STASEN: Great question.
MATHIAS: Actually, this will be… I’d like to go back to the time of the dinosaurs and see what life was like before humans. I’m curious about what Earth was like at that time. But I don’t know who to talk to. Maybe just myself, I guess. Probably when I ran away screaming.
STASSEN: I’d probably like to talk to a wizard in England in 1150 because I’m obsessed with how hard life has been for humans for 20,000 years. And I would like to see how difficult the daily struggle of doing only the most basic things was for people until about 80 years ago.
And one last question, although neither of you is particularly desirable, would you like to go to Rock Ridge. Blazing saddles or within Rock Ridge II. the part?
MATHIAS: Oh wow, that’s a funny question. Well, I think I’d like to go to Rock Ridge Blazing saddlesOnly because I’ve already been to Rock Ridge II. the part to some extent
STASSEN: Yes, I will Blazing saddles because it is not bad people, but not all of them Confederate soldiers, are probably a little more disturbing to me than the “Mongora telegram”. Do you remember the giant football cowboy?
World History II It is available to stream on Hulu.