Friday, August 19, 2011

Absolute Truths: Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks and Brendan Behan

From a 1997 interview with Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks about the 2000 YEAR OLD MAN recordings:

Reiner: At that second recording [for "2,000 and One Years with Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks] ... we had Brendan Behan, the famous Irish playwright [in the audience], and Mel didn't know he was there. I'll never forget this. I'd asked Mel, "Did you have a national anthem?" He said, "Yeah, every cave had a national anthem"--he didn't know I was going to ask him that, and he sang . . .

Brooks: [Sings] "Let them all go to hell, except Cave 17."

Reiner: And Behan came up after the session and said, "You know, I've got a new motto now," and he said something to me in Gaelic. I asked, "What does that mean?" He'd translated Mel's anthem. Now, that is exactly what flags, what nationalism does. Everybody should go to hell as long as we're OK. That's what I mean--Mel hits the absolute truths.

Below is the 1975 animated special, with character design and pretty much everything else by Leo Salkin. The audio is directly from the 1960s comedy albums. Titled "The 2000 Year Old Man," it aired January11, 1975.

It was my introduction to their work. Irish, Jewish, whatever -- this stuff is full of some great truths. And it still makes me laugh. The difference between tragedy and comedy, Shakespeare's lost play "Queen Alexandra and Murray," the greatest thing that mankind ever developed in 2000 years, the superiority of nectarines -- it's all here. If you just want to sing the national anthem along with Mel, click here. (And to my ears, Mel does sing "cave 17" but for some reason the cave is labeled with "76!" Go figure!)

Here's "The 2000 Year Old Man" animated special from 1975. Listen for Brendan Behan's laughs in the background there.

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