The 2000 Year Old Man In Video, Audio and Cartooneo. Or Cartoonio.

The four classic comedy albums created by Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner are probably amongst the five most influential “things” that determined how I speak and write as an adult (The other four factors are Lenny Bruce, The Firesign Theater, Kurt Vonnegut and rock critic Lester Bangs, if you care). I listened to a lot of comedy records when I was a kid. I’d listen to them over and over again with headphones on, unintentionally memorizing every word. To this very day I still use lines from Lenny Bruce or the Firesign Theatre, probably serving only to confuse everyone around me, but I don’t care. I think this is also the reason I sound more like a Jewish comedian from the Catskills when I speak and not a West Virginia hayseed. Those records are really a part of my DNA.

The most famous sketches from the Reiner and Brooks records, obviously, were “The 2000 Old Man” routines. Legend has it that the idea was hatched when Reiner was visiting Brooks in the hospital after a painful surgery. Brooks exclaimed that he felt like a 2000-year-old man. Reiner made like an interviewer, held an invisible microphone under Brooks’ chin and asked him what it was like to have been born before the time of Christ.

Brooks improv’d about the “discovery of women” (“A guy named Bernie…”), the development of language, how cavemen decided what was edible or not and various historical figures the 2000 Year Old Man had encountered, like Joan d’Arc (“Know her? I dated her!”), Benjamin Franklin and Moses.

Soon the duo was trying this material out at Hollywood parties and eventually a tape of their “2000 Year Old Man” bits started getting passed around town.

That’s one story, there are other, competing versions of this legend, but suffice to say that Brooks and Reiner created an enduring classic of stand-up comedy. As a double act, Brooks and Reiner were never less then off-the-scale brilliant and their material was as tight as a drum. I knew that the pair had performed short versions of the 2000 Year Old Man sketches on television several times—and there was the cartoon version in the 70s—but I’d never seen any of it. Of course these days, all one has to do is dial up YouTube and there it is…

“The 2000 Year Old Man” is an enduring comedy classic. It will never really date and it will always be as funny as it was when it first came out.

Order The 2000 Year Old Man:The Complete History box set on Amazon

Below, Reiner and Brooks on The Hollywood Palace in 1966:

“The 2000 And Six Month Old Man”:

The animated 2000 Year Old Man TV special from 1975:

Part IIPart III


~ by The 1955 Hudson on January 13, 2012.

One Response to “The 2000 Year Old Man In Video, Audio and Cartooneo. Or Cartoonio.”

  1. […] The 2000 Year Old Man In Video, Audio and Cartooneo. Or Cartoonio. ( […]

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