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George Carlin: The Loss Of Comedic Genius
George Carlin was one of the most celebrated and long standing comedians in American History. Born in New York City in 1937, Carlin was a stand up comedian, author and actor. During his long career, Carlin won five grammy awards and was recenlty awarded with the Kennedy Center Mark Twain Award.
Carlin was raised by his mother in New York City. After attending Catholics schools as a child, Carlin joined the United States Air Force in 1954. During his time in the airforce, Carlin received three court-martial and numerous Article Fifteens (form of punishment just below court-martial). Carlin was discharged, honorably, in 1957.
While in the Air Force and stationed in Louisianna, Carlin statedan off-base disc jockey job at radio station KJOE. After his discharge from the Air Force, Carlin worked as a disc jockey at various radio stations across the country.
In 1959, Carlin was working at KXOL in Fort Worth, Texas. There he met Jack Burns and the two began working as a comedy team. The comedy team had successful jobs at Fort Worth's The Cellar, Burns and Carlin headed for California in February 1960 and stayed together for two years as a team before moving on to individual pursuits.
After Burns & Carlin ceased performing together, Carlin began performing stand up in various Hollywood venues. In the 1960s, Carlin began appearing on television variety shows including The Ed Sullivan Show and The Tonight Show. It was here that Carlin was introduced to the American Public. However, it was not the Carlin we think of today. Instead, it was a clean cut Carlin that appealed to the conservative masses. This certainly does not mean that his material was clean cut as it was still edgy. It was, however, edgy for a more conservative time.
My favorite routine during this era is the Hippy Dippy Weatherman. The Hippy DIppy weatherman was Al Sleet, who gave forecasts in what can only be described as a stoned drown out voice. Some of the best quotes:
"Temperature at the airport is 88 degrees, which is stupid because I don't know anybody who lives at the airport."
"The weather was dominated by a large Canadian low, which is not to be confused with a Mexican high."
"Tonight’s forecast . . . Dark, continued mostly dark tonight turning to widely scattered light in the morning."
During this time Carlin also worked as a substitute host on the Tonight Show.
Warning: This is George Carlin. There will be language used.
Seven Dirty Words
Carlin changed his coventional routines and appearance in the 1970s. Instead of conservative suits and short hair, Carlin began making appearences wearing faded out jeans and long hair. It was during this time that Carlin released his comedy album "Class Clown." In that album lied Carlin's most famous and controverial routine: Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television.
This routine literraly defined what seven words the government proscribed could never be said on television. Citing Carlin:
"Shit, Piss, Fuck Cunt, Cocksucker, Motherfucker and Tits. Those are the heavy seven. Those are the ones that'll infect your soul, curve your spine and keep the country from winning the war. Those are the heavy seven. Those are the ones that'll infect your soul, curve your spine and keep the country from winning the war.
For repeating his routine in public in Milwaukee, Carlin was arrested for obsenity in 1972. The case was dismissed later that year when the judge stated that the language was indecent but Carlin had every right to repeat it. In 1973, the FCC received a complaint after listening to a similar routine. The FCC fined the radio station and the station brought suit. The United States Supreme Court upheld the fine holding that the government had a right to regulate language during hours when children were likely to be among the audience. (FCC v. Pacifica Foundation 438 U.S. 726 (1978).
Author & Actor
Not only was George Carlin a brilliant comedian, he was also a gifted author and actor. Carlin authored several books including, Braindroppings, Napalm and Silly Putty and When Will Jesus bring the porkchops.
Carlin's books contain many of his stand up routines but also other rants and what he deems "Short Takes." These are just short little thoughts about random things that he shares with the reader. Some are strange, some are profound, some are just weird, but all are funny.
Carlin also appeared in several movies. Many of my generation will remember Carlin as "Rufus" from Bill & Ted's excellent adventure. He also appeared on Jersey Girl with Ben Affleck and despite how horrible of a movie this was, Carlin, as Affleck's father, played the grumpy grandfather to perfection.
I Will Miss George Carlin
George Carlin died on June 22, 2008 of heart failure. To me, this was a sad day. Simply, George Carlin was the funniest human being I had ever seen. I had seen so much of his work that I felt a personal loss when he died.
I am an ardent channel surfer (just ask my wife.) However, whenever a Carlin HBO special appeared on the television my remote control would receive a well deserved rest. His humor was not only funny, but it was profound. One of his main themes was the use of language and how it is misused. On of the best rants on this subject is Carlin's description of the entire Airline Experience.
While Carlin made you laugh, he also made you think. The Seven Dirty Words routine is more than a rant using "dirty" language, it questions government power. Carlin continously described and questioned authority and the American experience, making us think about who we really are. I appreciated how smart his stuff was. But in the end, it is simple, George Carlin was one funny mother fu@@@@@.
- Richard Jeni - Platypus Man
Richard Jeni was a funny man. Known best for his HBO comedy special Platypus Man, Jeni was an American comdedian and actor. Born Richard John Colangelo in 1957 in Brooklyn New York, Jeni began his career...