Audio Remasterer: Pat Kraus .
Liner Note Authors: Dick Cavett; Gerald Nachman.
Authors: Richard G. Lewis; Larry Gelbart; Imogene Coca; Sid Caesar; Nick Venet; Whoopi Goldberg; Bill Cosby; Bob Newhart.
Illustrators: Stacey Grant; Stan Grant.
Photographer: William Claxton.
Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks' 2000-year-old man routine started in the early '50s as impromptu and improvised performances at parties, but the premise -- a very old, slightly grumpy man (Brooks) has had silly encounters with every person of note in history, and Reiner is eager to interview him about his recollections -- allowed the pair to take their mostly spontaneous dialogue in any direction they chose. Steve Allen convinced the duo to take the routine into the recording studio in 1960, and the resulting comedy album, 2000 Years with Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks, was a big success, spawning four sequels (the most recent in 1997), several TV appearances, and an animated television special. The routine itself was part Yiddish dialect and part vaudeville, with Brooks spinning like a comedy top while Reiner maintained a straight man's calm, guiding and pacing the flow by rising to certain comments, which in turn would spur Brooks to more silliness. This four-disc box set packages the complete history of this comedy franchise, including all five albums, a live set at the Cannes Film Festival, and several radio spots and interviews, while the fourth disc is a DVD that captures the pair's 1961 appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show and the New Steve Allen Show, the animated special from 1975 and on-screen discussions from Reiner and Brooks on the whole phenomenon. Casual listeners may find that it's maybe three discs more than necessary (Reiner and Brooks were really always riding a bit of a one-trick pony), but fans of the routine in all of its variations will be delighted to have everything in one place. ~ Steve Leggett