'I'm sure I've conned people into watching a show I've done," says Cory Moosman.
Like Max, his character in the Colorado Springs Fine Art Center Theatre Company's coming production of The Producers, Moosman has worn the producer hat before. But, he says with a laugh, "I've never been swift enough to con someone into investing in a show, although I would love to."
So how would this actor, director, producer and playwright bamboozle an investor?
"Tell them it's less of a hoax than investing in a company like AIG."
If that's not classic Mel Brooks-style humor, then I'm missing something.
Like cilantro and Sarah Silverman, with Brooks, "you either love him or you hate him," Moosman says. "Some people see it and think that it's brilliant, some people think that it's elementary school, playground humor."
Key to Brooks' brand, Moosman says, is the use of stereotypes to reverse effect. Detractors (and even some fans) call it lowbrow, but Brooks makes "statements with the most accessible social commentary you have, which is stereotype," says Moosman. "Stereotypes are rooted in some sort of fact, and by making fun of them, you're sort of taking the power away from them.
"You make fun of the Nazis to take away their power, you make fun of racial stereotypes to take away their power," he says. "We laugh at those things, and that takes away their power of being able to tear things down.
"And that's why I like that brand of humor, because you're making a statement, you're just doing it in a very veiled way that people are getting the meaning even if they don't understand it. So they eat the medicine without knowing they're eating the medicine."
Call it subconscious osmosis — social commentary absorbed through sarcastic comedy.
This local version will come via the FAC directorial debut of Steve Emily, co-founder of Springs Ensemble Theatre and 2010 Pikes Peak Arts Council award-winner for Best Actor. And true to the original 2001 theater script, it will go without the political themes that ran through the film version, which was set in the 1960s. Instead, it takes place a decade earlier, in the Golden Era of Broadway. That, Moosman says, makes the play less of a period piece and more accessible to people today.
Not that Moosman himself needs any help with that.
"There's always that little moment of, 'We're doing Mel Brooks — this is awesome!'"