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George Carlin: Outrageous comedian

Updated on January 2, 2010

"Life's journey is not to
arrive at the grave safely
in a well preserved body,
but rather to skid in sideways,
totally worn out, shouting
'...holy sh*t ....what a ride!'

George Carlin died of heart failure in 2008, at the age of 71. He was born of Irish decent in 1937 in New York City. Married twice, he had one child during his lifetime. He received the American Comedy award, a lifetime achievement award, the Kennedy Center's Mark Twain prize and was nominated for several Emmys.

Having worked as a radio disc jockey, a radio announcer, and a D.J,. he eventually teamed up with Jack Burns, also a newscaster and comedian. Working together, they performed on radio and in clubs. Eventually, Carlin decided to venture out solo. His first TV guest appearance was on The Tonight Show in 1962, after the departure of Jack Paar.

In 1965, he began a series of 29 appearances on the Merv Griffin Show. He started out as a conventional comedian but, by the '60s, began to change his style, incorporating jokes about religion and making humorous and disparaging remarks about American conventions. He found humor in everything and particularly liked using shocking and profane language and was frequently censored. .

He once said he thought profanity enhanced his characters. It was during this time, that he began developing his well-known and clever imitations of the establishment. He openly said he  was influenced by Danny Kaye, Abbott and Costello, Ernie Kovacs, Mort Sahl and Lenny Bruce.

His audiences loved his irreverent, controversial and very funny social commentary on American life and politics. With an accute intelligence and amazing sense of observation and humor, he parodied everyday figures; such as flight attendants, weathermen, and politicians. He satirized the media, religion, radio and TV commercials, advertisements, and conventional ways of life. And, invented outrageous characters like Al Sleet, “the “hippy-dippy weatherman”and made fun of them.

When Carlin was awarded the kennedy Center's Mark Twain Prize in 2008, the announcement, which celebrated his life and humor, was made a week before his passing. He was delighted with the honor, and was looking forward to attending the ceremony. The award was presented posthumously for the first time in its eleven years. He was considered the greatest stand up comic of all times, after Lenny Bruce.

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    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 8 years ago from Chicago

      George Carlin was one of the funniest—make that wittiest—people ever. What a hoot! Thanks for the memories brought back by your fine Hub.

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 8 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Your welcome, JW. Glad you enjoyed it

    • RooBee profile image

      RooBee 8 years ago from Here

      Thanks for doing this, alekhouse. I'm a long-time fan and am sad to see him go. At least he left us with PLENTY to remember him by! :) Great job and -of course- very well-written.

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 8 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      I love it when you read my hubs; you always leave such nice comments. Thanks.

    • trooper22 profile image

      trooper22 8 years ago from Chicago

      Alekhouse, thank you for creating this wonderful tribute to one of the greatest stand-up comedians of our time. From his time as the Hippy Dippy Weatherman on the Smothers Brother's show to his death he never failed to leave me and millions of others laughing and thinking. He was, and is one of my greatest inspirations.

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 8 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Yep, I totally agree. Thanks, Trooper, for stopping by and the nice comment.

    • goldentoad profile image

      goldentoad 8 years ago from Free and running....

      George is definitely was one of a kind, one of my favs that taught me to challenge perspective in the strangest of ways.

      I blinked and now you have 40 hubs?

    • R. Blue profile image

      R. Blue 8 years ago from Right here

      John.....you remind me a bit of Carlin......edgy.

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 8 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      GT: Thanks for the comment. About the 40 hubs (and almost 80 fans), yeah I've been busy...hub addiction, ya know. I can't tell you how happy I am you're back, even if we're only getting one old hub at a time. They're all new to me. I barely know you, except for this little community, and I feel a connection somehow...I think it's the sadness part. I'm a nurturer.

      R. Blue: You're right about edgy. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Denny Lyon profile image

      Denny Lyon 8 years ago from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA

      One of my all time favorite - and most annoying - great comedians! He could put quite a spin on the truth that hit home square between the eyes, what a guy... his quick rapier wit will be missed for some time... thanks for writing it, wonderful hub - blogging this on over to my humor blog!

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 8 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Denny, Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Glad you liked the hub.

    • profile image

      blueraven6 8 years ago

      May I introduce you to the Searcher Comedy Club? Another common interest?

      Blue Raven 6

      Try myspace.

      Or I can stick some of a computer full of country, blue collar humor that even Larry likes? Right here?

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 8 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Thanks for the comments

    • profile image

      blueraven6 8 years ago

      Did you see the recording of the Krause family reunion?

    • alekhouse profile image
      Author

      Nancy Hinchliff 8 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Sorry, no.

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