In the funniest sketches in “History of the World, Part II”
Just like history, comedy sometimes repeats itself — but in the case of History of the World, Part II we don’t complain. The long-awaited sequel to Mel Brooks’ favorite 1981 sketch comedy concludes with a callback that’s sure to send fans of the original film into the stratosphere. In the closing moments of World History, Part Ithe comedy icon behind it Flaming Saddles And space balls teased a part two that would take off into the distant future when the next-next-next-next generation of Jews would float through the cosmos in Star of David spaceships.
Jump 40 years ahead, and History of the World, Part II finally meets this tease… with another tease. The eighth and final episode of the Hulu sequel concludes with another Jews in Space trailer promising more adventures. Speaking to Yahoo Entertainment, Nick Kroll – who produced, wrote and starred Story Sequel alongside Ike Barinholtz and Wanda Sykes – says boldly returning to that comic frontier was a no-brainer.
“When word got out that we were doing the show, the first question everyone asked was, ‘Are you doing ‘Hitler on Ice’ and ‘Jews in Space’?” Kroll recalled, making a joke about a particular rapper , who did it, his own feelings toward Jews were disturbingly clear. “And it was always Kanye [West] ask me about it! I can finally tell him we’re doing it, and that’s great because we’re having dinner tonight and our kids are going to the same synagogue.”
Seriously, Kroll was really excited to revisit and add to the already existing Jews in Space mythology with a sketch featuring him, Barinholtz and Sykes along with a very special cameo by Sarah Silverman. (A new version of “Hitler on Ice” with the central trio was shown in a previous episode.)
“We always wanted to make sure we were respecting the original but also doing our own thing,” he explains. “I think we found a fun way to tip our hat to both sketches in a way that feels like a continuation of what Mel did, but also something new. It also ties everything together in a fun way that I was really looking forward to. “
But don’t get your hopes up for a feature-length Jew in Space should Hulu go ahead with it History of the World, Part III. “The joke is always, ‘Let’s just keep teasing ‘Jews in Space,'” notes showrunner David Stassen. “The thing is, it’s basically its own sketch, and we’re just pretending it’s a full movie that’s coming later.”
“I just want to keep kicking that can and treat the audience that way Sisyphus,” Stassen continues. “You’ll keep trying to push that boulder up the hill, but you’ll never actually get there.” For the record, you’ll never see those Star of David spacecraft updated with next-gen CGI imagery either.” “So it’s cheaper,” jokes the showrunner as he’s praised for keeping the visual effects from 1981.
Should “Jews in Space” return, Kroll & Co. have to make room on the bridge for his Jewish comic colleague Josh Gad. The Frozen Star has a small role as William Shakespeare on the series, but wasn’t invited to be part of the Jews in Space skit – and he still resents being left out. “I didn’t even know ‘Jews in Space’ was going to be in it, but now that I know, I’m super pissed off,” Gad says in mock insult. “I’ll call Nick, Wanda and Ike and ask many a question.”
The trio are informed of this upcoming call from Gad and preview the line of defense they will be using. “It was a tight ship,” says Sykes, who is not Jewish but plays the important role of designee Red shirt. “We only have about four people,” adds Barinholtz. “Luckily we got Josh to play Shakespeare and he really killed it. We were all bigger gadheads than before.”
History of the World, Part II also gives a new twist to one of history’s most famous Jews, Jesus of Nazareth, played by the late John Hurt in a memorable Last Supper-inspired skit that appeared in Brooks film. But the continuation of the series takes cues from the actual story by setting the outbreak Unsure And Top Gun: Maverick Star, Jay Ellis, in the role while Atlanta‘s Zazie Beetz plays his love interest, Mary Magdalene. The casting is reflected the current consensus among most historians and religious scholars that if Jesus and Mary really existed, they would have been darker and not white – as traditionally portrayed in religious art and motion pictures.
“I only played him as Jesus because I always thought of him as black,” says Ellis of his hilarious role as the Son of God. “Nick and Ike called me and said, ‘We believe you have all the virtues of Jesus and we would love for you to bless us with your talent.’ And I said, ‘Of course my sons!’ They created such a fun, open space to play in, where I could just be silly.”
Jesus and Mary are part of two lengthy sketches that run through the series. The first story arc is a rom-com version of how they met and fell in love, while the second is a spot on parody of Peter Jackson’s recent Beatles documentary. come backwith the duo in their John and Yoko phase during the so-called “Last Supper Sessions”.
“We shot that a month later come back came out was very much in keeping with the times,” Beetz recalls with a laugh. “I would say it was a very realistic representation of how those sessions went.”
Casting Ellis and Beetz as Jesus and Mary also opened the door for a skit specifically aimed at how religious history has been whitewashed over the centuries. The eighth episode offers a recreation of the First Council of Nicaea, a fourth-century gathering of early Christian leaders at which important decisions were made about how the story of Jesus should be told going forward. On the series, the various council members agree that the dark skin of Jesus should be erased from the record in favor of an ultra-buff, ultra-Caucasian action hero type played by actor and model, Brock O’Hurn.
“This whole sketch is about telling the truth to those in power and showing how the Council of Nicaea is made up of stupid assholes who are basically sugarcoating history,” he affirms History of the World, Part II Director, Alice Mathias. But she also makes it clear that Ellis’ casting wasn’t just the preparation for this punchline. “Jay is a fucking star and so worth watching. He and Zazie are so fun together and so important to our cast this season.”
“The writer’s rooms were all large Unsure Fans, so we all had Jay in mind,” adds Stassen. “The great thing about him is that he’s not known for comedy, and sometimes you get a dramatic actor who’s a little too thirsty and says, ‘Give me more jokes!’ But Jay is so gentle in his comedic approach and it really paid off because everyone around him can be kind of crazy.
Watch our interview with him History of the World, Part II Cast on YouTube:
History of the World, Part II is currently streaming on Hulu.
https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/history-of-the-world-part-2-mel-brooks-black-jesus-jews-in-space-150848332.html In the funniest sketches in “History of the World, Part II”