“I wanted to be an operatic tenor,” said Carl Reiner in this 2016 interview with the PBS NewsHour. “My father had these Red Seal Records of Enrico Caruso. I lack one thing. Two things actually. Pitch and timing.”
Reiner died Monday, June 29th at age 98. He was the creator of and a writer for “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and was awarded many times over for his life in comedy.
Reiner cited his parents as inspirations. They sought out entertainment and the Marx Brothers were favorites. He took acting lessons and learned some Shakespeare, eventually landing a job with Sid Caesar on “Your Show of Shows.”
Around the same time, he met a young comic named Mel Brooks, who he saw perform a monologue about a Jewish pirate. They joked around in front of producer Steve Allen, who suggested they record something in his recording studio. “He says, ‘Go there and wail, or do whatever you want with it.’ For about 2 1/2 hours, Mel and I ad libbed and cut it down to 47 minutes and ‘The 2,000 Year-Old Man was born.” The routine resulted in an enduring series of records and even a television performance.
Reiner and Brooks famously remained best friends for the rest of Reiner’s life. “If you have one good friend, you’re lucky. And I have one good friend, I call him my best friend. My life is fuller because I’ve had Mel in my life. If he doesn’t come over, I don’t know what to do with myself.”
One important observation Reiner made about life is this: “Those people who have a sense of humor get through life more comfortably than those who don’t.”