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2000 Year Old Man is aging quite nicely

The 2000 Year Old Man in the Year 2000
The 2000 Year Old Man in the Year 2000
By Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner

Rhino Records: 1997


The 2000 Year Old Man in the Year 2000: The book
The 2000 Year Old Man in the Year 2000: The Book
By Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner

Harper Collins: 1997


Buy the book now at Amazon.com


This review first appeared in the Nov. 28, 1997 edition of the North County Times.

He's doing very well, thank you. Which isn't to say he has no complaints. After all, if he had no complaints, he wouldn't be the 2000 Year Old Man. But he's alive and well and still offering his take on modern society – in both a new book and a new CD, the first in 24 years.

He's also doing online chat sessions, book signings and the talk show circuit. For a guy going on 2047, he's pretty busy.

The format of the new recording is the same as the four earlier ones from the '50s and '60s (now available on CD in a boxed set): Carl Reiner is the interviewer, the straight man. Mel Brooks is the 2000 Year Old Man, an elderly Jewish man with a New York Yiddish accent who's seen it all – and who is forgotten by all 42,000 of his children. The book is a companion to the CD but contains a lot of different material and is in a different format, as it is mostly written in first person by the 2000 Year Old Man.

Without giving away too many jokes, a few examples show that Brooks (who never knows what questions Reiner will ask) and Reiner have lost none of their punch:

Missing Commandments: "Thou shalt not squint."

The reason for the Black Plague: "Too many rats, not enough cats."

Sayings: "You're smart as a ship ... what the hell's so smart about a whip? A ship I can see smart. Turned out on the water. Sails. Moving. Catch the wind. ... Smart as a ship makes sense. Smart as a whip? A whip just curls in the corner."

Other topics from both the book and CD include the time that Sigmund Freud psychoanalyzed his tongue, his marriage to Janice of Troy (Helen's sister), the first infomercial, the eighth wonder of the world, Martin Scorcese, frozen yogurt and cloning.

Brooks' delivery is far improved from the earlier recordings. The accent is stronger – and, of course, being 47 years older, his voice sounds more like an elderly Jewish man. He thinks just as quickly on his feet as ever; the comebacks are just as snappy. It was all done live in front of an audience, and has the same feeling of fun as the earlier records.

Actually, it's a better album than the others. Brooks and Reiner are simply funnier than they were years ago; they've continued to learn and improve on their craft – and it shows.