Released in 1981, Mel Brooks’ ‘History of the World, Part I’ is widely regarded as one of the greatest farces of all time. It spoofs epic historical drama films, including the Sword-and-sandal and costume drama genres. Although the film derives its title from ‘The History of the World’ by Sir Walter Raleigh and has the phrase “Part 1” in the said title, a sequel was never in the plans. That evidently changed more than four decades later with the release of ‘History of the World, Part II.’ If you are wondering whether the series is scripted or unscripted, we got you covered.
Does History of the World, Part II Have a Script?
Yes, ‘History of the World, Part II’ is a scripted series. The process of its development is quite similar to NBC’s ‘Saturday Night Live,’ sans the “live” aspect of the latter series. ‘History of the World, Part II’ comprises a series of anachronistic skits set at various points in history. Some are interconnected, continuing the same story from a previous skit, while others are entirely secluded from the rest.
Brooks, who is 96 at the time of the series premiere, serves as its narrator. The writing team includes Nick Kroll, Ike Barinholtz, Wanda Sykes, Emmy Blotnic, Owen Burke, Adam Countee, Fran Gillespie, Ana Fabrega, Jennifer Kim, and David Stassen. Although Kroll told various news outlets that Brooks reached out to him about the project, he seemed to imply in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that things didn’t exactly occur the way he said they did. “Yeah, that’s the rumor I started and I’m sticking with it,” he confided.
Kroll claimed that after learning that Brooks wanted to make ‘History of the World, Part II’ with him, it was the fastest “yes” he ever said. He subsequently reached out to Sykes, Barinholtz, and Stassen and received positive responses from all of them. Brooks was actively involved with the project. He listened to the pitches and encouraged the writers to be bold.
“… we did a bunch of material for him in the studio … and afterwards, he said, ‘I really… I liked the songs. And I liked some of the reads.’ And he also said, ‘And we’re gonna get some letters. And that’s good.’ From the beginning, he really said to us, ‘Don’t be afraid to tell dirty jokes.’ And that’s the thing with Mel and what we really wanted to honor was, Mel had some incredibly astute social commentary, but he was never preachy. And he was always pretty silly. And it’s always funny first, and we really tried to take that ethos and bring it with us in the show where, wherever the show went, that was always kind of the North Star,” Kroll explained to the same outlet.
The format of the show allowed its diverse group of writers to explore various points in history. Barinholtz was interested in the American Civil War and wrote the skits about Ulysses S. Grant and Robert Todd Lincoln. Sykes wrote the ones about Shirley Chisholm and her sitcom. And Kroll’s interest in Russia led him to write the skits on the Romanov family, Rasputin, the Russian Revolution, and the Jewish family that decides to move to Moscow from the countryside.
‘History of the World, Part II’ has a stellar ensemble cast comprising Johnny Knoxville, Jake Johnson, Taika Waititi, David Duchovny, Danny DeVito, Emily Ratajkowski, Seth Rogen, Sarah Silverman, Jack Black, and Kumail Nanjiani, to name a few. Like Brooks in the original films, Kroll and co-writers also perform acting duties, portraying various characters in the series.
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