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A White House ceremony full of pomp and circumstance didn’t stop Mel Brooks from having a laugh — by pretending to pull President Obama’s pants down.

The veteran comedy writer and filmmaker was among more than a dozen honorees at the White House on Thursday for the presentation of the National Medal of the Arts and the Humanities.

{mosads}After an announcer hailed Brooks’s achievements, the 90-year-old accepted his medal from Obama. Then, with a big grin, Brooks knelt and pretended to yank at the 44th president’s suit pants.

The move elicited a laugh from Obama, though many in the audience appeared not to understand the stunt. Some in the crowd were heard whispering, asking what Brooks’s motions were all about.

“I do think Mel Brooks kind of set the tone for this thing,” Obama said after doling out the honors. “Historically, this has been a much more staid affair.”

“Somehow I think my quote at the beginning threw everything off,” Obama said with a laugh.

Earlier in the event, Obama praised Brooks’ 1974 movie, “Blazing Saddles,” calling it a “great film” and quoting a line Brooks had told the comedy’s writers: “Write anything you want because we’ll never be heard from again. We’ll all be arrested for this movie.”

The Brooks gag wasn’t the only unexpected moment at the ceremony. Obama had to play fixer in chief when the announcer inadvertently forgot to name another one of the honorees, singer Audra McDonald.

After Obama whispered to the announcer about the error, staffers scrambled to find prepared remarks about McDonald. “I can make up a citation if we need one,” Obama said to laughs, before a paper with the comments was rushed over to the announcer. A pregnant McDonald then got a standing ovation as she took the stage to receive her medal.

Some of the other honorees included composer Philip Glass, record producer Berry Gordy, musician Santiago Jiménez Jr., chef Jose Andres, and actor Morgan Freeman.

Obama joked that Freeman couldn’t make it to the ceremony because “he’s undoubtedly off playing a black president again.”

He added, “He never lets me have my moment!”


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