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The King of Dark Comedy: George Carlin

Updated on June 16, 2012

"If their is a God may He strike this audience dead!"

A comedian with such a great deal of integrity, he was never afraid to voice his opinions, and often "grievances" of any variety. Most of Carlins favorite subjects to rant about were often the most controversial. These subjects ranged from "The Seven Words you Cant Say on TV" to religion, sexuality, ware fare and psychology. George always spoke his mind truthfully and gained respect from audiences from teaching them how to laugh at their own human behavior.


Early Life

He was born George Denis Patrick Carlin on may 12, 1937 in Manhattan. He was raised as a Roman Catholic, which he remained until he "reached the age of reason". He was brought up by his mother, Mary, who left his father, Patrick, when he was just two months old. During his youth George attended several catholic schools including the Corpus Christi school and Bishop Duboi's high school in Harlem. While he was in high school, George had a difficult relationship with his mother. These difficulties at home resulted in George running away. Soon after he left home he joined forces with the U.S. Air force as a radar tech. Carlin didn't do well in the military. He was discharged during 1957 after receiving several punishments and being court martialed three times.

Post Military and Early Comedy

In July of 1956 Carlin got his first break as a disk jockey for the LA radio station KJOE at the young age of 19. His next job was announcing for Boston station WEZE, where he was soon after fired for taking a news van to New York to buy marijuana. George had several radio jobs during the 1960s including the Burns and Carlin radio team. This team lead to some of his first stand up routines in Hollywood California. In June of 1961 he married the love of his life Brenda in her parents living room. Within a year of marriage, George was of doing comedy routines of his own. He began to develop his out of this world, intellectual comedy style. In 1966 George recorded his first album called "Take offs and put ons". George toured all through the late 60s and 70s creating a fan base. George was invited to perform at Summerfest, a Milwaukee festival, in July of 1972. He was arrested at the festival for using indecent language in front of young children. In October of 75 George had the honor of hosting the first broadcast of Saturday Night Live. While on the air, Carlin made the point that Americans play the "Europe Game". "How is the Europe game played?" he went on to explain, "Lets take their land away!"

HBO Comedy Specials

Most of George Carlin's greatest works were featured in his 14 HBO comedy specials. The first of these specials was entitled "on location" and was produced in march of 1997. With all of his comedy specials, he struck gold, nailing every topic that others were too afraid to touch. He had a talent for picking out the things that we all know but never talk about. These subjects were very humorous but at the same time truthful. Carlin loved to say things that made people uncomfortable. These topics include the humor of American language, bodily functions and body parts including scabs and toenail clippings, the low IQs of Americans, loosing things, obesity, religion, politics, and so many more. George Carlin was clearly a mastermind in his unique comedy style.


Dark Comedy

As he progressed through his comedy specials, George's dark side came farther and farther out of the closet. He was never shy when it came down to complaining about human nature. In fact his 12th HBO special was titled "Complaints and Grievances", which was originally called " I Kinda Like it when Allot of People Die". The titles was changed after the September 11th attacks on America. The complaint department in George's shows were quite simple, he points out the strange and silly aspects of human life. Some of the complaints revolve around; technology, "people who ought to be killed", American sayings and phrases and just plain "guys named Todd". At the end of the special George reduces the list of the Ten Commandments to the "Revised list of the Two Commandments". George had more twisted comedy to come with possibly his darkest HBO specials "Life is worth losing". In this grim stand up the stage was set up as a cemetery, tomb stones and all. Carlin's Choice of topics in this special ranged from ways people commit suicide, to an all-suicide TV channel called "Must die TV". He also touches base with extreme human behavior and dumb American activities. George Carlin's final HBO special was entitled "Its bad for ya". Where he rants about old age, people refusing to be realistic, and people refusing to be realistic and "just plain bulls***!"


Remembering a Legend

George Denis Patrick Carlin died on June 22, 2008 due to heart failure. In his career he won many awards: The lifetime achievement award in comedy, 2 American comedy awards (1997, 1998) and was nominated for 6 Emmy Awards. During his lifetime he released 19 comedy albums and 5 compilation albums. He appeared in over 16 movies (Including the Bill and Ted movies, Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike back etc.) and he made many appearances on TV shows (Saturday Night live, The Simpsons, the Ed Sullivan show etc.) Being one of the forefathers of dark comedy, teaching us to laugh at everything we never thought we would, George Carlin will be forever treasured. He was an honest, proud and hilarious man. Forever in our memory and in our laughter, rest in peace George.


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    • SkySlave profile image

      Skyler DeCristoforo 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I believe that George was vulgar on purpose. In allot of his routines he explains that words are just words. The only reason we have good or bad words because we created them to be that way. In a sense we give some words more power than other words and i believe that George thought this was silly.

    • Steve Orion profile image

      Steve Orion 5 years ago from Tampa, Florida

      I didn't know some of the background info you've listed! I always liked his stand-up and comedy albums, though sometimes thought, as many people have, that he was unnecessarily vulgar. It seems, in retrospect, to be an identifying and essential characteristic of his, though. Thanks for the information and laughs! RIP George.

    • SkySlave profile image

      Skyler DeCristoforo 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you for your comments. George was one of my heros! I can listen to his routines over and over again and laugh every time. Absolutely amazing.

    • Georgie Lowery profile image

      Georgianna Lowery 5 years ago from Lubbock, TX

      Carlin was amazing and had a mastery of the English language that few can aspire to have.

      This is a great Hub!

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 5 years ago from Upstate, New York

      You couldn't be more spot on with this great article on my favorite comedian. He truly was a genius and the world lost someone great the day he passed. I often remember him when I'm writing something humorous and find myself asking questions, such as his famous evaporated milk line "If its evaporated, why sell it". I like to say "Don't call it evaporated, evaporation is what we do to get gas. Call it "milk gas".

      He is , was, and always will be #1 in my book. Heaven is a bit brighter with him in their midst.

      Great hub.