The 2,000 Year Old Man

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Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks in their in their iconic '2000 Year Old Man' routine

 

It began as a time-filler during a lull in the writer’s room; became a favorite party gag; then was captured on a 1961 album — “the comedian’s Bible,” says Billy Crystal. Carl Reiner, as the straight-man interviewer, would paint Mel Brooks, his millennia-old guest, into a corner, and Brooks would invent ingenious ways out. (Explaining his longevity: “I never run to catch a bus.”) The routine shifted comedy from a series of jokes toward more complex, character-based scenarios. Crystal and Carl Reiner’s son, Rob Reiner, explain why "2000-Year-Old Man" will live forever.

The album 2000 Years with Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks was chosen for preservation in 2008 in the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry.

This story was produced by BMP audio.

Studio 360’s series Inside the National Recording Registry was just honored with a 2012 Peabody Award.

Listen to more stories from the series

(Originally aired: December 18, 2009)