75i: Elliot Gould / Anne Murray
Albert Brooks Film
... Albert Brooks
Paul Rennert ... James L. Brooks
[Comedian Albert Brooks, wearing brown flannel shirt
and brown pants, stands outside a building, addressing
Albert Brooks: Hello, I'm at the National Audience
Research Institute, a few miles outside of Phoenix,
Arizona. This is my last film in this series for the
Saturday Night show. I might be back but that's not
important right now. What is important is you. Come
inside with me. I'll show you what I mean.
[Brooks heads into the building. Dissolve to Brooks
inside the building as he walks past a row of large,
noisy computers and addresses the camera.]
Albert Brooks: In this building, hundreds of dedicated
men and women work in order to find out what you, the
audience, like and why you like it. You know, some
performers say, "I don't care about the audience. If
they don't like it, fine. I got my own style, my own
bag. I'll wait for other audiences." [Brooks stops. We
cut to a close-up.] Not me. I'm not that stupid.
That's why I'm willing and able to change in any
direction you choose. [Cut wide again.] All I have to
know is why you don't like it and what it is I can do
about it. And that's what brought me here.
[Cut to Brooks in a denim outfit, walking through an
Albert Brooks V/O: I first came to the Research
Institute one year ago today. With my own money and a
twenty-five thousand dollar grant, I intended to
launch the most comprehensive research program ever
attempted for one individual.
[Cut to a room with four researchers sitting at a
table. Brooks enters and shakes hands with them.]
Albert Brooks V/O: The Institute assigned three men
and one woman to my project. As soon as I met them, I
knew I was in good hands.
[Cut to interview footage of Paul Rennert, one of the
researchers, in his office.]
Albert Brooks V/O: There was Paul Rennert, a pioneer
in the field of audience research.
Paul Rennert: Yeah, I went to the University of
Colorado and I knew exactly what I wanted to do with
my life. I got into research.
Albert Brooks: [off screen] Is it an absolute science,
Paul Rennert: An absolute? No, no. It's not an
absolute. The wonderful thing about it, and what
excites the people who are in it, is that you can go
ahead and dig and compile, dig and compile, and you're
not heading towards any final answer.
[Cut to interview footage with another researcher,
Brian Elsner, who wears a white lab coat in a computer
Brian Elsner: Look...
Albert Brooks V/O: Brian Elsner...
Brian Elsner: ... I'm not even gonna deal with this
Albert Brooks V/O: ... one of the first men to
introduce computers into the field of audience
Brian Elsner: We have tons and tons of computer data.
By the time we compile it and read it out, it's
[Cut to interview footage with the only female
researcher, Sandy Laughton.]
Sandy Laughton: Whether you're walking on the moon or
choosing The Tonight Show...
Albert Brooks V/O: Sandy Laughton, responsible for
choosing just what material of mine would be used for
Sandy Laughton: The material seldom makes me laugh.
Albert Brooks: [off screen] That's not 'cause it's not
Sandy Laughton: Not necessarily. I - I laugh when I
think I've done a good job.
[Cut to interview footage with the oldest researcher,
Mark Fielding, a gray-haired, bespectacled man who
wears a bow tie.]
Mark Fielding: The participants in these tests ...
Albert Brooks V/O: Doctor Mark Fielding, head of the
Mark Fielding: ... are chosen by tests so complicated
that, actually, it deserves studying.
Albert Brooks: [off screen] What was the age range of
Mark Fielding: A four year old boy in Des Moines, Iowa
to a seventy-five year old woman in San Diego,
California. And every possible combination in-between.
[Cut to Brooks, walking down a flight of stairs
outside the institute, addressing the camera.]
Albert Brooks: Obviously, a research institute that
has spent millions of dollars on a testing program
can't divulge its secrets on national television.
However, since I was paying for this, they did allow
me to film small portions of just a few of the over
one hundred and six tests given.
[Cut to a projection room where four test subjects sit
in recliners wearing headphones. Sandy Laughton,
wearing a white lab coat, paces behind them, holding a
clipboard, making notes.]
Female Subject: No!
Male Subject: [soberly] I'm laughing very hard.
Female Subject: No!
Little Girl: I don't like it!
Female Subject: Yes.
Albert Brooks V/O: Test Eleven.
Male Subject: [soberly] I'm not laughing.
Female Subject: Yes. Yes. No.
Albert Brooks V/O: Wearing special headphones, groups
of four people, chosen for specific reasons, were
asked to listen to a comedy recording of mine and
verbalize all thoughts and feelings.
Male Subject: [soberly] I'm laughing hard.
Little Girl: I like it!
Albert Brooks V/O: On the surface, this test appears
to tell nothing. However, once the information was fed
into a computer, the results were astounding.
[Cut to a man and a woman sitting on a sofa. They wear
Man: I don't understand the whole thing. This is the
Tonight Show. We've been watching the Tonight Show for
Albert Brooks V/O: Test Twenty-eight. In their own
home, this couple has just watched me perform on a
late night talk show. The Institute felt it would make
for an unusually honest critique if, after the
program, they could remain in their home and speak to
me directly through their television. [Cut wide to
reveal researcher Paul Rennert sitting in a nearby
chair in the couple's living room, arguing with them.
Brooks is visible on the TV.] At a staggering cost per
minute, special lines were set up between the
Institute and this house two thousand miles away.
Regrettably, these people were not briefed properly
and their confusion was costing me a fortune.
Albert Brooks: [on the TV screen, interrupting the
argument] Hold it! Wait a minute! I'll explain one
more time. Okay?
[Cut to Brooks in a TV studio.]
Albert Brooks: I'm not in Burbank.
Albert Brooks: I'm nowhere near the Tonight Show.
Albert Brooks: I did that earlier this evening.
Man: I see.
[Cut to the living room with Brooks on the TV.]
Albert Brooks: [on TV] I left. I got on a plane. I'm
now near Phoenix, Arizona.
Woman: So you left The Tonight Show?
Albert Brooks: [on TV] Yeah.
Woman: Uh huh. And now you're in Arizona?
Albert Brooks: [on TV] Right! I'm at the Institute.
Woman: I see. I see. I see.
Albert Brooks: [on TV] Now, what did you think of the
Man: How close are you to Phoenix?
Albert Brooks: [on TV, completely loses it] What
difference does it make HOW CLOSE I AM TO
[Cut to Brooks in the TV studio.]
Albert Brooks: [goes ballistic] What the hell is going
on?! What did you think of the show?!
[Cut to an Institute control room where a videotape of
Brooks' previous film for Saturday Night plays on a
pair of TV screens. Brian Elsner, the computer
specialist, is visible in the background.]
Albert Brooks: [on TV screen] Before I go, I'd like to
say one thing. You know, making film is a cooperative
Albert Brooks V/O: Test Sixty-five. One of a series of
tests utilizing the Institute's very newest computer.
[Cut to a hairy-chested, bearded man with sensors
stuck to various parts of his body and head.] This
man, while viewing me on television, was sending over
two million impulses into this -- what the Institute
calls the XR-8000. [We cut back and forth between
computer and sensor-rigged man] This computer can
actually translate these impulses into a critique that
can be read and discarded, much the same as a typical
[A teletype prints out the critique. It reads: "At
this point, however, Brooks simply becomes a babbling
Brooks. The sharpness of his wit is dulled by the fact
that he can't seem to hold an audience once it is
there. Some comedians have that gift, Brooks does not.
He assumes that an audience, once in a setting, is
good for at least an hour. Streisand, yes. Albert
Brooks, no. Another annoying things seems to be
Brooks' attitude toward people that don't like his
act. He wastes no time before he insults them ..." Cut
to a small room. Brooks talks with a male test
subject. Through a glass window, we see researchers
Elsner and Laughton watching and taking notes.]
Albert Brooks: [to the male subject] Just-- You see,
you've taken it the wrong way.
Albert Brooks V/O: Test Seventy. I was placed in a
small room with a subject who, in an earlier
interview, expressed an intense dislike for my work.
Male Subject: [hostile] It's tasteless.
Albert Brooks V/O: I was instructed to see if I could
bring him around to my way of thinking. This test was
designed to show just how deep audience feelings ran.
Male Subject: [angry, yelling] I don't care! You're -
not - funny!
Albert Brooks: But I AM funny!
Male Subject: [grabs Brooks by the arms] You
understand that? I HATE YOU! You're not funny!
Albert Brooks: But don't you - don't you understand--?
Male Subject: [shakes Brooks violently] Look! You're
not funny! I hate you!
Albert Brooks: I don't think you understand--
Male Subject: No, YOU don't understand!
Albert Brooks: Okay.
Male Subject: [increasingly violent] I hate it! I hate
you! I hate everything about it! You're not funny!
You're not funny and I hate your guts!
Albert Brooks: Okay. [taps on window, yells to
researchers, who do nothing] Let me out - let me out
Male Subject: I hate you.
Albert Brooks: Okay. Let me out.
Male Subject: You are not funny!
Albert Brooks: Oh, okay.
Male Subject: You are not funny ...
Albert Brooks: Let me out of here!
Male Subject: ... at all!
[Cut to Brooks, walking briskly away from the
Institute, wearing his brown outfit again. He carries
a massive book and addresses the camera.]
Albert Brooks: The National Audience Research
Institute has just turned over to me its findings in
this eight hundred and twenty-two page report. I'm
gonna go on a vacation now and have somebody I trust
put this into a synopsis I'll read. [pauses at the top
of a flight of steps running down to the street] The
next time I see you, I hope and pray to be more of
what YOU want. [Brooks starts walking down the steps.]
Thank you! And if you're going on vacation, please,
have a nice one, too!