Max Brooks on origin of viral COVID video with Mel Brooks and the struggle of social distancing [Video]

Max Brooks was ahead of the curve when it came to explaining how to flatten it.

In the very earliest days of coronavirus quarantining, the Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z author — who also consults on national security for through fellowships at the Atlantic Council and West Point — teamed with his famous father, Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein filmmaker and EGOT winner Mel Brooks, for a soon-to-be viral video explaining the urgency of social distancing.

Max is seen visiting his father’s house — though Mel is on the other side of his kitchen’s window glass – where he makes the case that while the virus may not pose a serious threat to his own health, he could easily transmit to his dad, while Mel could pass it on to folks like Carl Reiner and Dick Van Dyke, wiping out “a whole generation of comedic legends.”

In a recent interview with Yahoo Entertainment, Max explained the origins of their #DontBeaSpreader video.

“What I learned is the general public doesn’t know what’s going, it’s not being explained to them,” he told us (watch above). “And I thought, ‘Well, there’s this horrible novel virus that’s killing people, and even if you get it, and you’re OK, you can still give it to someone [who’s] vulnerable. It’s literally like someone gives you a loaded gun and you just start firing it into a crowd.

“How do I communicate that? How do I make people understand, ‘You’ve got to be safe?’ Well, I thought ‘There’s nothing more personal than a father and a son.’ So I just called my dad and said, ‘Listen, I’m going to come over tomorrow and we’re just gonna shoot this on an iPhone. And we’re just going to throw it up on the web and it’s just going to be me explaining that even if it doesn’t kill me, I could give it to you and it could kill you.'”

The younger Brooks, 47, says his family has continued to practice what they preached in the video, which has racked up over 16 million views since it was launched on March 16.

“I haven’t hugged my dad since this started,” he says. “We go over there once a week, my wife and my son — he just turned 15 and he can’t hug his grandfather. We talk to him through that window. The window you saw on that video, that’s a real window where he has his breakfast every morning. We go over and we sit in the shade and we talk to him and we catch up. But no, there’s no contact because we gotta be careful, he’s 93 years old. He’s going to be 94 next month.”

As for the health status of Mel, Max says we need not fret — recalling the trying but toughening formative years of the future Hollywood icon, who was drafted into the United States Army in 1944 and served in World War II.

“He’s doing fine, he’s made from sterner stuff, tougher material than today’s Americans. He’s Greatest Generation, he was in World War II. My father was a combat engineer defusing mines and booby traps [as the Allies advanced into Nazi Germany]. And all his friends were in World War II, and they all grew up in the Depression.

“So when you see people saying, ‘I wanna go surfing!’ I can only imagine how my dad thinks about that.”

Max Brooks’s next novel, Devolution, releases June 16. Pre-order it on Amazon.

— Video produced by Jon San

For the latest coronavirus news and updates, follow along at According to experts, people over 60 and those who are immunocompromised continue to be the most at risk. If you have questions, please reference the CDC’s and WHO’s resource guides. 

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