Airplane! director David Zucker recently reiterated a joke he’s told frequently through the years.
“When we do screenings of Airplane! we get the question if we could do Airplane! today,” said Zucker. “The first thing I could think of was, ‘Sure, just without the jokes.’ “
In a video posted this week by Dennis Prager’s Prager U, the director of comedy classics such as The Kentucky Fried Movie, Top Secret! and the Naked Gun films got more specific about the current state of Hollywood.
“My current writing partner Pat Proft and I wrote a parody of James Bond and Mission: Impossible,” related Zucker. “One female executive said, ‘This joke is getting pretty risqué here.’ It was a mild joke about the lead female character. Because she had come up through the police department and through the FBI…she needed a breast reduction to fit into the kevlar vest.”
Zucker, who also directed Scary Movie 3 and Scary Movie 4, couldn’t believe it.
“It was pure oatmeal, so mild,” he said of the joke. “Not one of our funniest things, but [even] this was too much. I thought, ‘If this was the criteria for it, we’re in big trouble.’ They’re destroying comedy because of nine percent of the people who don’t have a sense of humor.”
Looking back on the good old days Zucker remembered, “We could be as offensive as we liked. We went where the laughs were. We never thought that we were offending anyone, but if we were offending people we knew we were on the right track. As time went on, it got to be the ’90s and the 2000s and it did change… We never worried about any of this stuff with the Naked Gun or Scary Movie films.”
Zucker concluded, “Comedy’s in trouble, but I think it’s gonna come back. I think there’s a pendulum and it’ll swing back. I’d just like to see comedy filmmakers do comedy without fear…We just want to make people laugh.”