Monday, June 23, 2008
George Carlin has died. I can't express in words how much I loved his work and how sad I am that he died. He was a comedic genius whose only rival was Richard Pryor for the greatest stand up comedian of all time. I've been a fan of of George Carlin for over 30 years. I'll miss him. He was 71.
The classic Baseball vs. Football routine
George Carlin talks about cats and dogs
I was about 10 when I snuck a peak at his first HBO show, I had a hard time holding back my laughter as did a routine about dogs and cats. My neighbor across the street had some George Carlin albums which we listened to, including "Occupation:Foole" and "Class Clown". I had laughed so hard I developed a six pack from all my stomach convulsions. These albums had the famous "7 Dirty Words" and its sequel. I became a fan for life.
A follow up to the classic "7 Words"
I enjoyed George Carlin's rebellious nature. His routines were a breath of fresh air as the country was embracing Ronald Reagan's conservatism. George Carlin was a hero to the counterculture youth. This from a man who was older than my parents.
George Carlin's career can be put in three stages. The first stage was his DJ/Ed Sullivan stage. This early phase had Carlin teaming up with Jack Burns and performing in coffeehouses while making a living as a DJ. After going out on his own, he would appear on variety shows like the Smothers Brothers and acting in small parts on sitcoms. He was making a living doing characters in his stand up, but he had not established a distinctive career to break wide open. Carlin 's audience seemed somewhat indifferent to his comedy and Carlin was even more dissatisfied with his audience.
This need to change brought about his second stage of his career The Hippy/Stoner phase. He was in his early 30's but he identified with the baby boomers who were challenging the status quo in the 60's. He released the album FM&AM in 1972. This was the mainstream's introduction to the newly bearded and long haired George Carlin. This album bid farewell to the old George Carlin on one side, where he did his characters like the hippy dippy weatherman. The other side showcases the definitive George Carlin. He gave us the ugly truth and it was funny as hell. He made full use of the English language including the words mighty 7. He peppered his routines with drug references and the occasional racial slur meant to shatter many taboos. He was at his comedic peak. These albums were some of the best routines of all time. Before the 70's ended he would start filming his stand ups for HBO. This increased his audience immensely. He was the first host of a live show filmed in New York that would be known as Saturday Night Live.
A Place For Carlin's Stuff
He kept this phase of his career going into the 80's. He cut his hair but kept his beard. His hair was going gray at around the time he entered his third phase. The Angry Curmudgeon phase. He had a few heart attacks by this point. A routine of his was "First Richard (Pryor) had a heart attack, then I had a heart attack, then Richard burned himself up, and I said 'Fuck That' I'll have another heart attack!" He continued to release HBO specials until last year. He started to appear in more movies including the Bill and Ted movies, He even appeared on the kids show Shining Time Station as the Conducter. His comedy routines were getting darker and angrier. His main topics were politics and religion. Basically he had no use for either. During the 90's he released three books while continuing to do "On Location" specials for HBO.
Carlin's Take on Religion
When I first listened to George Carlin it was for the swear words but later on I realized it was the way he used the language that made it funny. His brilliant observations of the English language taught to him by his Catholic School teachers made his routines thought provoking. This made it necessary for multiple listens.
Typical Carlin Routine That Makes You Think
George Carlin was the Man, man. Actually I wish he were the Man, then I would not hate the Man. So long, funny man.