Mel Brooks’ Long-Awaited Sequel Accused Of Plagiarism

Mel Brooks History of the World Part 2 is being accused of plagiarism by a playwright, but the cast insists it's just the trailer making it look misleading.

By Lyndon Nicholas | Published

History of the World Part 2

After decades of waiting, fans finally have the answer to “How long must we wait for a sequel to History of the World Part 1?” The answer is, of course, 42 years, but History of the World Part 2 is already drawing criticism before release. According to a tweet from John O’Farrell, Mel Brooks’ work may be borrowing some comedic elements from his Broadway play Something Rotten!

O’Farrell’s tweet reads “Forsooth, Mel Brooks’ new film hath ripped us off Something Rotten!” Apparently, O’Farrell believes there is no way that Mel Brooks and his team would have been unaware of his work. He references a performance of a section of the play done at the Tony Awards, an award of which ironically Mel Brooks has been the recipient. 

In the video of the performance at the Tony Awards, the actors talk about the next big up-and-coming trend in theatre: musicals. They then proceed to riff on the silliness of the genre, before breaking out into song themselves. O’Farrell compares this scene with a scene from the trailer of Mel Brooks’ upcoming Hulu limited series, History of the World, Part II.

The scene from the trailer shows a writer’s room with Shakespeare and a group of writers huddled together around a table coming up with new angles for their plays. One writer suggests “What if we do a play, but it’s got music and singing?” Although the scene itself doesn’t include any singing, the scene directly after from a different skit starts with Jack Black dressed in a Soviet Russia uniform singing musical style in a clever editing nod to the suggestion.

Although there hasn’t been much clamor or a response from Mel Brooks, Josh Gad, who played Shakespeare in the skit, had something to say about O’Farrell’s claim.

Although he mentions that he adores O’Farrell’s work, he also asserts that the sketch was a “one-off,” and was not a rip of Something Rotten! O’Farrell responded saying that he admired Gad’s work as an actor.

Both O’Farrell and Mel Brooks are accomplished storytellers in their own right. O’Farrell and Karey Kirkpatrick co-wrote Something Rotten!, a musical comedy set in 1595 about brothers Nick and Nigel who happen to be theatre writers struggling to compete with the iconic and vastly more popular William Shakespeare. The musical had a multi-year run on Broadway, received ten Tony Award nominations, and won one for Best Featured Actor in a Musical.

Josh Gad’s William Shakespeare in History of the World Part 2

O’Farell recently co-wrote a Broadway musical adaptation of Mrs. Doubtfire which opened on Broadway in December 2021. He was also a lead writer for the television series Spitting Image and the author of the book The Man Who Forgot His Wife

Mel Brooks is also a winner of a Tony Award, and a longstanding icon within Hollywood since the 1970s. In fact, Brooks is one of only 18 people to win the EGOT, which means he won an Emmy Award, a Grammy Award, an Oscar, and a Tony Award.

His best-known films include The Producers (1967), The Twelve Chairs (1970), Blazing Saddles (1974), The Hulu series History of the World, Part II is a long-teased follow-up to his 1981 spoof film History of the World, Part I.

The cast of Mel Brook’s History of the World, Part II features a laundry list of some of the world’s most famous comedic actors including Nick Kroll, Sarah Silverman, Kumail Nanjiani, Jack Black, Taika Waititi, Tyler James Williams, Zazie Beetz, Quinta Brunson, Dove Cameron, Ronny Chieng, Rob Corddry, Danny DeVito, David Duchovny, Emily Ratajkowski, Jason Mantzoukas, Reggie Watts, and likely more. 

The Hulu series could possibly be the last in Mel Brook’s long line of works. Fans will certainly want to check it out upon its release.