2000 Year Old Man

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Rhino Records' 2000 Year Old Man boxed set of albums one through four

The 2000 Year Old Man is a comedy sketch, originally created by Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner in the 1950s and first publicly performed in the 1960s.[1][2][3]

Mel Brooks plays the oldest man in the world, interviewed by Carl Reiner in a series of comedy routines that were recorded into a collection of records, as well as being performed on television. In a Yiddish accent, Brooks would improvise answers to topics such as the earliest-known language ("basic Rock"); manufacturing the Star of David ("I employed six men, see, each with a point. They would run together in the middle of the factory, and in the great speed, they would fuse, thus creating a star. I would make two a day, because of the many ACCidents"); missing out on manufacturing the cross ("It was simple. I didn't know then it was eloquent! Two men run together … BANG! You got a cross! I could have fired four men!"); and Joan of Arc ("KNOW her? I WENT with her, dummy, I WENT with her!").

The foundation for the routine was created during production of Your Show of Shows where Reiner was an actor and Brooks was a writer. It began as a private joke between the two that was then shared at parties. Reiner began bringing a tape recorder to the parties as Brooks never said the same thing twice. Numerous people suggested to the two that they put their material on an album, but only Steve Allen managed to coax the two to come record it in his studio.[2][3][4][5]

Brooks and Reiner have released five comedy albums. The 2000 Year Old Man character appeared on one track for each of the first three albums, and the entirety of the final two.

  1. 2000 Years with Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks (1960)[6]
  2. 2000 and One Years with Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks (1961)
  3. Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks at the Cannes Film Festival (1962)
  4. 2000 and Thirteen (1973)
  5. The 2000 Year Old Man in the Year 2000 (1997)

The last in the series won the 1998 Grammy Award for Spoken Comedy Album.[7] The album “2000 Years With Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks” was added to the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry as part of the 2008 selections.[8][4]

Their first television appearances performing the sketch were on The Ed Sullivan Show in February 1961 and then on The Steve Allen Show eight months later.[2]

Animated special[edit]

The 2000 Year Old Man
GenreAnimated television special
Written by
Directed byLeo Salkin
Voices of
Theme music composerMort Garson
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
Production
Producer(s)Leo Salkin
Running time30 min
Production company(s)
  • Crossbow Productions
  • Acre Enterprises
  • Leo Salkin Films
DistributorCBS
Release
Original networkCBS
Original releaseJanuary 11, 1975 (1975-01-11)

A half-hour animated television special, The 2000 Year Old Man, premiered January 11, 1975,[9] incorporating some of the original recordings.[9] This special has since been released on home video. The musical introduction was Bach's Sinfonia to Cantata #29 performed on a Moog synthesizer by Mort Garson.[citation needed]

All five comedy albums were compiled and newly remastered on a 3-CD/1-DVD box set by Shout! Factory for the 50th anniversary. The 2000 Year Old Man: The Complete History DVD was released November 24, 2009, and features an interview with Reiner and Brooks; the 1975 animated 2000 Year Old Man television special, and clips of the two appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show and The New Steve Allen Show.[citation needed]

Many of the jokes (especially the caveman jokes) were eventually brought to the screen in Brooks' film History of the World, Part I.

Appearances in other media[edit]

Mel Brooks appeared as the 2000 Year Old Man to help celebrate the 2000th episode of the original Jeopardy! hosted by Art Fleming (February 21, 1972), in which the three highest-scoring undefeated champions at that point returned to play an abbreviated game for charities. During his pre-game appearance he recounted how the show was done 2,000 years earlier—"It wasn't this hippy-happy-dappy game you've got here … the moment you walked out of your cave—Jeopardy!"[10] On the March 17, 2014 airing of the current Jeopardy! hosted by Alex Trebek, Brooks and Reiner read an entire category of clues as their characters.

Mel Brooks adapted the character to create the 2500 Year Old Brewmaster for Ballantine Beer in the 1960s. Interviewed by Dick Cavett in a series of ads, the Brewmaster (in a German accent, as opposed to the 2000 Year Old Man's Jewish voice) said he was inside the original Trojan horse and "could've used a six-pack of fresh air."[11]

In the episode of The Simpsons entitled "Homer vs. Patty and Selma", Mel Brooks appears as himself, riding in a limo being driven by Homer. After Homer incorrectly identifies the act as "The 2000-pound man thing," he and Brooks engage in a brief sketch, with Homer playing the part of Carl Reiner. When Homer is pulled over by the police, Chief Wiggum offers to give Brooks a ride and says they can do "the $2000-Man thing." Brooks agrees, but asks that he not play Reiner's part—"I hate Carl Reiner!" he says.

In the episode of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip entitled "The Option Period", comedy writer Rick Tahoe uses The 2000 Year Old Man as an example of an ideal comedy sketch.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Karpel, Ari (November 12, 2009). "A Shtick With a Thousand Lives". nytimes.com. The New York Times. Retrieved 14 July 2019.
  2. ^ a b c Holmes, Bill (February 3, 2010). "The 2000 Year Old Man: The Complete History". popmatters.com. PopMatters. Retrieved 13 July 2019.
  3. ^ a b Lee, Tom (January 18, 1974). "The Musical Fruit". The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 13 July 2019.
  4. ^ a b Manilla, Ben; Strolovitch, Devon (September 6, 2018). "Mel Brooks and 'The 2000 Year Old Man'". pri.org. Public Radio International. Retrieved 13 July 2019.
  5. ^ "Brooks And Reiner's 2,000-Year-Old Man Turns 50". npr.org. NPR. November 28, 2009. Retrieved 14 July 2019.
  6. ^ This album was originally released in 1960 as World-Pacific #1401. It was reissued as Capitol #1529 in 1961. See, Carl Reiner & Mel Brooks The Complete 2000 Year Old Man (Los Angeles, CA: Rhino Records), 1994, p. 32.
  7. ^ "41st Annual Grammy Awards winners". National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, Inc. Retrieved April 17, 2011.
  8. ^ "2008". loc.gov. Library of Congress. June 10, 2009. Retrieved 13 July 2019.
  9. ^ a b 2000 Year Old Man at AllMovie
  10. ^ Mel Brooks' appearance on Jeopardy!
  11. ^ Mel Brooks Interviewed in Playboy, 1966 Archived May 12, 2013, at the Wayback Machine