2000 Year Old Man
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Mel Brooks played the oldest man in the world, interviewed by Carl Reiner in a series of comedy routines that appeared on television, as well as being made into a collection of records. 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"; 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 inspiration for the skit was a tape-recorded exchange between Brooks and Reiner at a party that took place at Brooks' beachfront house in Lonelyville, on Fire Island. The tape recorder was brought into the mix shortly after the opening salvos, as the two comics soon had the party audience in stitches. In 1961, when the duo began doing the skit on television, Brooks had just undergone surgery for gout. Because of his post-surgical discomfort, Brooks quipped, "I feel like a 2000-year-old man," which led Reiner to begin questioning him about what it's like to be a 2000-year-old man and to describe history as Brooks saw it.
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.
- 2000 Years with Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks (1961)
- 2000 and One Years with Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks (1961)
- Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks at the Cannes Film Festival (1962)
- 2000 and Thirteen (1973)
- The 2000 Year Old Man in the Year 2000 (1997)
|The 2000 Year Old Man|
|Genre||Animated television special|
|Directed by||Leo Salkin|
|Theme music composer||Mort Garson|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Running time||30 min|
|Original release||January 11, 1975|
A half-hour animated television special, The 2000 Year Old Man, premiered January 11, 1975, incorporating some of the original recordings. This special has since been released on VHS videocassette and DVD. The musical introduction was Bach's Sinfonia to Cantata #29 performed on a Moog synthesizer by Mort Garson.
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.
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
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!" 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."
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.
- 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.
- "41st Annual Grammy Awards winners". National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, Inc. Retrieved April 17, 2011.
- 2000 Year Old Man at AllMovie
- Mel Brooks' appearance on Jeopardy!
- Mel Brooks Interviewed in Playboy, 1966 Archived May 12, 2013, at the Wayback Machine