Firstly, I’d like to state the obvious: Mel Brooks is a comedic genius. All on his own, he’s one of the funniest cats ever. Case in point, movies like “Blazing Saddles,” “Young Frankenstein,” even the more contemporary “Spaceballs” is good for belly laughs aplenty. But, in 1961, he and Carl Reiner started a series of comedy routines for TV that were eventually made into some of my favorite recordings ever. They were largely ad-libbed, and all started with a Brooks character called “The 2000-Year-Old Man,” boasting a thick Jewish accent. The genesis of the character was Mel Brooks saying after surgery for gout that he felt like a man that age. Carl Reiner started asking him what that felt like, and the skit materialized from there. The series of recordings is absolutely hilarious, displaying a comedic timing and instinct between the two friends that I think has to land them in the upper echelon of funny guys. Perhaps a testament to their abilities is that these 50-year-old recordings have largely stood the test of time. Here’s a transcribed snip of one of the recordings featuring the 2000-Year-Old-Man character, or you can go listen to it via this YouTube video. The rest of the recordings are priceless, too (my brother and I always double over laughing at “The Peruvian”). If you’re in the mood for some classic comedy, I highly recommend you check them out.
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CARL REINER: Who was the person who discovered the female?
REINER: Who was Bernie?
2YOM: Bernie, one of the first leaders of our group.
REINER: And he discovered the female?
REINER: How did it happen? How did it come to pass?
2YOM: He said, “Hey, there’s…there’s ladies here.”
REINER: I’m very interested to find out how Bernie discovered the woman. How did it come to pass?
2YOM: Well, he…one morning, he got up smiling. He said, “I think there’s ladies here.” So I said, “Whaddya mean,” ya know? So he said, “Cause in the night, I was thrilled and delighted,” you see? So then he went into such a story that, it’s hundred of years later, I still blush.
REINER: Sir, could you give us the secret of your longevity?
2YOM: Well, the major thing, the major thing, is that I never, ever touch fried food. I don’t eat it, I wouldn’t look at it and I don’t touch it. And never run for a bus, there’ll always be another. Even if you’re late from work, ya know? I never run for a bus, I never ran, I just strolled, jaunty, jolly, walking to the bus stop you know?
REINER: Yeah, well there were no buses in that time. What was the means of transportation then?
2YOM: Mostly fear.
REINER: Fear transported you?
2YOM: Fear, yes. You would see an, an animal would growl and you would go two miles in a minute. Fear would be the main propulsion.
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