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One Man Contrasts Two of America's Favorite National Sports

Updated on December 14, 2012

This focuses on George Carlin’s routine contrasting American football and baseball, among his funniest - and, refreshingly, one devoid of obscenities!

Originally I heard his routine on this theme on a 33-1/3 rpm record played on a little record player and thought it one of the funniest I’d heard. How pleased I am to discover he updated it! This hub is primarily to share it with you.

But wait! So what? Well. . . there is more to it!

Aha! OK Why not let George Carlin himself explain the differences? ~ N-joy!

While we're here, I’d enjoy sharing a few brief facts about the man and his work, certainly not a comprehensive bio, but a few things I discovered, thanks to Google, which add more substance to my own impressions from seeing him on TV and hearing him on comedy LPs over many years. No doubt you have many impressions accumulated from your own experiences of him!

George Carlin (May 12, 1937 – June 22, 2008) American stand-up comedian, social critic, actor, and author, won five Grammy Awards for his comedy albums.

After he was well into his craft, he lost some gigs by dressing differently than other comedians of the time, coming onstage in faded jeans and nondescript t-shirts, sporting long hair, beard, and earrings when when a clean-cut, well-dressed appearance for comedians was normal. His own persona gained him the attention of The Ed Sullivan Show and an appearance on it which quickly won him new popularity as the public became caught up in his offbeat sense of style.  Ed Sullivan was the first to debut many a talent who would reach pinnacles of fame, including The Beatles (to this country) and Elvis Presley - and on and on the list could go.  It's almost spooky for me to have seen the first national appearances as these and other such greats as Barbra Streisand (hers was on a Tonight Show).  Such are the rewards of longevity!

I am surprised to learn that Carlin was the first host of NBC's Saturday Night Live (SNL), in the fall of 1975.  I missed that one but for him, it led to many hosting and backup appearances on the show.

Carlin's material generally touches upon one or more of three self-described categories: "the little world" (observational humor), "the big world" (social commentary), and the peculiarities of the English language (euphemisms, doublespeak, business jargon and that ilk), all sharing the overall theme of (in his words) "humanity's bullshit," which, to him, might easily include any and every aspect of human behavior and civilization. He became famous for irreverently mixing his brands of humour with larger and well-founded social commentary, though his delivery often characterized such subjects with extreme skepticism suggesting that nothing in the world has real - or, at best, fragile and inconsequential existence. It was often uncomfortably close to the bone.

The one word which comes to my mind when thinking of his life and his work is “iconoclast”. If ever anyone made a career out of kicking sacred cows, this man was the one.

In fact, he considered language, which was of great interest to him, as a tool of manipulators, who he perceived use euphemisms to distort truth. He also targeted use of language he regarded as pompous, presumptuous, or silly in his routines. But he confessed that what turned him on was, "reading about language" and admitted that what gave him the most satisfaction in his career was the number of his books that had been sold, close to a million copies.

He gave stellar performances in several movies. The one I saw and enjoyed was "Jersey Girl" in which he played Ben Affleck's blue-collar Dad and became the buddy of his very bright little granddaughter. Human lessons in the movie are touching and left a warm-fuzzy lasting impression on this viewer.

Ultimately he was an entertainer, despite the byproducts of his life’s work. To quote himself: "I have always been willing to put myself at great personal risk for the sake of entertainment. And I've always been willing to put you at great personal risk, for the same reason!"

Hub author's note:

Dateline: March 5, 2012

The chosen video of the routine was disallowed, but the information retains its appeal, even without the video.


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    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 7 years ago from TEXAS

      OH, Ken, yes - what a lovely addition to our brilliant constellation of good Georges! I remember now that your mentor's name was also George! I recall your first of many heart-felt intimate stories of your life experiences when your path crossed his. It was so inspiring and gave me goosebumps then as it still does. You've added to his bio here, though, more than I recall in the first hub. He, indeed, had an illustrious life, as well as a most inspiring one.

      How glad I am that he helped you discover the real Ken! Kenneth is, by the way, another name I associate with very special people I have known.

      Thanks for adding to this.

    • saddlerider1 profile image

      saddlerider1 7 years ago

      I totally agree, my George who I met when I was 15 was not only my savior and mentor, he graced the stages as a fine actor in Montreal back in the 50's as a Montreal Theater actor.

      He also graced the billboards as the Marlborough man with a sweet cap in between his fingers. He shared the Montreal stage with William Shatner who was just starting out as a stage hand and apprentice, also Christopher Plummer.

      George could have gone on to Hollywood but due to family comitments he chose to stay in Quebec and raise his young family and keep his career in the Steamship business.

      He was so funny and made me laugh often as a boy and young adult in his mentorship. It was he who coached me to take art lessons, acting lessons and complete my schooling at night, we had wonderful funny times together, I can write a book of my George Dubois Woods.

      So let's raise a glass of fine wine to the Georges who graced our lives and left us a better person for having known and loved them. Cheers...

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 7 years ago from TEXAS

      Ken - thank you - and I quite agree that George (in fact all the Georges I know much about) - surely have "all the angels, saints, devils, gods, rolling in the aisles laughing so hard they are sorry they took (any of them ) so soon". My own George was a wit, and from what he related to me of his Great Uncle George, so was he. My George said that his uncle, who was a district judge, would have the courtroom in laughter more often than not. LOL I can just visualize a convention of "Georges" wherever they are now, keeping the heavenly rafters raised! LOL

    • saddlerider1 profile image

      saddlerider1 7 years ago

      George was my favorite comedian of all time. When ever I get blue periods, I put on a video of George on stage bashing it out and a smile comes quickly to my face.

      I love his cutting remarks and tell it all like it is sense of style, no bullshit, right off the cuff, slap stick, let em have both barrels.

      He was a master at cutting the establishment to pieces with his genius. I to remember watching the Ed Sullivan show when I was a boy and seeing the Beatles and Elvis make their appearances along with so many other future superstars.

      Thank you for this great write and I have seen these videos before and so much enjoyed watching them all over again, I can't get enough of George.

      He probably has all the angels, saints, devils, gods, rolling in the aisles laughing so hard they are sorry they took him so soon. he he he.

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 7 years ago from TEXAS

      Yes, he was all of that, Gerry. Thank you for those valuable facts about him! He spent his life actually doing what many who claimed to be philanthropic did not. Hugs.

    • sligobay profile image

      sligobay 7 years ago from east of the equator

      Irreverance was the hallmark of George Carlin. I remember seeing Carlin appearing on the Smothers Brothers Show. He was a brilliant spokesperson for the Peace Movement. His philosophy and political perspective was populist rather than elite. He struggled with heart disease throughout his life but possessed a kind and generous heart. He proposed the conversion of golf courses into homeless housing in one of his routines. I admired him greatly and he will be missed as a spokesman for the poor, dispossessed and disenfranchised.

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 7 years ago from TEXAS

      Thank YOU for visiting, Joshua Kell. :-)

    • Joshua Kell profile image

      Levi Joshua Kell 7 years ago from Arizona

      Great hub. Thanks.

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 7 years ago from TEXAS

      ChrisL - Yes, he was all that - funny, clever and innovative. I'm happy that it was a Fun Hub for you too!! Thanks!

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 7 years ago from TEXAS

      amillar - I'm glad you've found him and like his work! He was "one of a kind" as they say! Brilliant, indeed! Thanks for your comment!

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 7 years ago from TEXAS

      DRBJ - I am most appreciative that you liked this! It came about quickly when someone sent me that tube of my favorite routine Carlin routine - I just couldn't NOT share it here - which led to including more about Carlin himself, which I enjoyed delving into.

      It's clear that he enjoyed an admirable private life which was totally separate from his public one. He was married to his first wife from 1961 until she died of cancer in 1997. A little over a year later he married Sally Wade, who was his love and mate up to his death in 2008.

      A book of his writings to her and the story of their courtship is due to be released in 2011. It will be called "The George Carlin Letters: The Permanent Courtship of Sally Wade." That seems to tell the kind of man he was as a person. I'd like to read that one!

      I've no doubt that your treatment of his story would have been even more masterfully-mistrustfully done! (hehe - good word - he'd probably have liked it, too!) You could still do it and I'll bet it would reveal even more interesting aspects of the man! Anyway - I'm really pleased that you liked mine!

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 7 years ago from TEXAS

      Merlin - You're right! I've known of him so many, many years - and he has seemed almost inescapable of knowing over here, so that it's a bit amazing to realize he's still almost a stranger in other places; - and so it's most gratifying to think that I may, as you mention, be introducing him to a new audience! Good thing that there's u-tube, for sure. It would be impossible to adequately describe his work in words! How good that he can be remembered as his actual material is being enjoyed still. Thanks for the comments! Hugs.

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 7 years ago from TEXAS

      Hello, hello - Oh, yes - I'm realizing that his appearance in the UK was later in his career and somewhat limited even then, so - no, you're not the only one who hasn't run onto him before!

      I'm discovering British talent I hadn't known through BBC presentations on DVD, etc. Before, if they didn't actually come over here and establish themselves in this country, I'd been more likely to have missed them altogether, and what a shame that would be. Now I feel like I am beginning to "know"many of them as well as American performers with whom I'm well acquainted.

      So -I'm so glad you found George Carlin here and enjoyed it! Thank you!

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 7 years ago from TEXAS

      BJ - Yes, I agree. I'm pretty sure he'd have gone on viewing and reporting the world and its foibles for many more years if he could have. Presented as comedy, often really edgy comedy, it reached the awareness of those who were willing to listen at a deeper level, while probably to any who viewed his presentation methods as somehow objectionable, the deeper messages were "thrown out with the bathwater" - or perhaps buried, if their own actions or sympathies happened to fit into the culprit category in his rants - and some of it fell into the rant category.

      He was appalled by a lot he observed and wasn't mousey about saying so! But he made audible what many of us thought or suspected as being seriously amiss, while he did it in that unique style of his, getting right at the heart of the issues. Thanks for visiting the hub & leaving your own experience of him!

    • ChrisLincoln profile image

      ChrisLincoln 7 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California


      I had never heard of George Carlin until I came to the US, and he was quite a find. I enjoyed the video clip, how funny, and how clever. To take a simple observation and build an amazing routine...I'm in awe

      Fun Hub

    • amillar profile image

      amillar 7 years ago from Scotland, UK

      I've just found out about this guy recently. I've been listening to him on YouTube - brilliant.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 7 years ago from south Florida

      What a great tribute to Carlin, Nellieanna. He would really have appreciated your talent in putting this all together.

      I had toyed with the idea once of doing something similar but I'm glad I did not attempt it. No way, could it have measured up to this skillful portrayal you have masterfully (or is it mistressfully) forged.

      Thank you on George's behalf and my own. :)

    • Merlin Fraser profile image

      Merlin Fraser 7 years ago from Cotswold Hills

      A great comic genius, sadly one whose talent never arrived this side of the pond until the advent of the Internet and YouTube.

      Although he is no longer around his talent and memory lives on and now thankfully available to all.

      Imagine your delight if you have introduced him to a completely new audience they wil be forever in your debt.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      I don't think it reached England or most properly am the only one who haven't seen or heard of him. However, I loved reading and learning about him in your hub. Thank you.

    • BJBenson profile image

      BJBenson 7 years ago from USA

      I remember the first time I saw him on cable and he let loose. It is hard to believe he died. I think he had so much more to say yet.

      Thank you for your hub, it has good memories for me.

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 7 years ago from TEXAS

      giggle. aw shucks. Thank you kind sir!

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 7 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      "But, Will - he wasn't even born yet for several more years when I was born!"

      Then you are the world's best looking older chick! :-)

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 7 years ago from TEXAS

      Christpher P. - my friend! Good description: "comedic philosopher". It makes one wonder if seriousness and rididigy aren't the enemies of good philosophy. He was my daughter's most favorite comedian. He did speak to several generations, actually. Speaks well of his depth. Thank you for the visit and input! Hugs.

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 7 years ago from TEXAS

      horseback - Yes, he did get funnier. He evolved as an entertainer - and from what I can find out, as a person, as well. Thanks for the great comments.

    • Christopher Price profile image

      Christopher Price 7 years ago from Vermont, USA


      This was a fine tribute to George, one of my favorite comedic philosophers...I think of him as so much more than a "funny-man". His love of language was always evident and, his questioning of authority and conventions spoke to that, after listening to his unique take on life, I always wanted to wrap my arm around him and buy the first round!

      He was exceptional but accessible...and the perfect performer to speak to his/my generation.

      George Carlin is another enjoyment we share. :{)


    • ahorseback profile image

      ahorseback 7 years ago

      Nellieanna , That guy just got funnier as he aged , I don't remember the first time I saw him. But I do the last. The ideas in that mans head......Excellent hub.

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 7 years ago from TEXAS

      But, Will - he wasn't even born yet for several more years when I was born! Sorry - on that score I top you handily. ;-> hehe.

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 7 years ago from TEXAS

      maven - ah - that must have been something to see him perform on stage. I must admit I could live without some of the vocabulary - but it was part of his presence and wit, and so couldn't be omitted. He was unafraid to tackle any subject, to poke fun at any pompous sacred cows or to be his own person. He admitted without blinking that his business was entertainment, and as it happened, he did that with great flair as well as a lot of common sense and wisdom. One couldn't help but love him. Will be a LONG while before there is another to equal him.

      Thanks for sharing your experience! That is funny about the girl sitting in front of you going into convulsions - lol. I can just picture him exiting with the finger!

      Thanks for the vote too.

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 7 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona


      George Carlin was still a little boy when I was born.

      But thanks!

    • maven101 profile image

      maven101 7 years ago from Northern Arizona

      I saw Carlin in 1970 at the Cow palace in San Francisco...His humor was achingly funny...I remember the girl sitting in front of us stayed doubled over during his entire routine, grunting with convulsive belly laughs...His " fart " routine, where he blames the dog, was priceless...I remember when he finished and was leaving the stage, he waved goodbye to the audience with his middle finger and said " F..k you ", and walked off the stage..! Pure George Carlin...

      Thank you for this well-written and very interesting Hub...Voted up...Larry

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 7 years ago from TEXAS

      Christopheranton - true, true. I was aware that it would be an unfamiliar comparison of two unfamiliar sports to our friends over the pond. I suppose maybe a comparison of rugby and cricket over there might bear a few similarities as football and baseball have here, possibly even to having devoted and/or rabid supporters.

      I've lived among kinfolks most of my life, in various family connections, who had very strong passions for one or both sports. I'm not naturally drawn to games per se, but have been able to become somewhat caught up when I have known players or when any of my college teams was involved - the team spirit and all that. I'm always the oddball, though, amongst the fans watching the games on TV at most every family gathering for a holiday, when these are inevitably big features in progress.

      There's another sport over here with comparable enthusiasms, - basketball. In the state where I lived many of my years, Indiana, the passion for basketball is so intense that it is affectionately referred to as "Hoosier Hysteria" - Hoosiers being the nickname for the natives of that state. Quite a phenomenon and living among those infected with it, one must try to concur. My husband then was a most versatile athlete, and basketball was one of his best sports. He played it with a combination of physical and mental agility - and sheer will - which were a pleasure to behold. He was good at every other sport imaginable, as well, although in football, his smaller size was a disadvantage enough to deter him. His height should have deterred him in basketball, but the said agilities made him into a champion to be admired.

      George Carlin was, indeed, a great talent - very unique one, as well. Glad you were able to enjoy the humor in the routine, even though it was about things unfamiliar to you! Thanks for the comment, as well.

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 7 years ago from TEXAS

      Mentalist - ;->

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 7 years ago from TEXAS

      Will - it may have made its first appearance before you were born or when you were a young-un. Carlin hosted the first ever Saturday Night Live in the fall of 1975 and debuted that routine. He had a lot more hair then and wore a tailored suit! I notice that he redid the routine several times - (& continued to polish it) - over the years in various appearances. It's really quite interesting to see the changes in both the man and the routine.

      I'd known Andy Griffith's "What It Was, Was Football" from hearing it on radio and record back in the early 1950s. Surely that was before your time, but you might remember Andy Griffith in the TV series "Matlock". Back in the 50s, his series was the one in which Ron Howard was his son, Opie. In this bit on football, he's a backwoodsy type who accidentally stumbles into a football game, carried along by a crowd while he was picnicking on the outer grounds, thinking it was a park. It's hilarious. I have wondered whether George Carlin got a little inspiration from that bit.

      Thanks for the visit, Will. Always a pleasure to see you.

    • christopheranton profile image

      Christopher Antony Meade 7 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom

      Considering that he was talking about something, that I know absolutely nothing about, he was still very funny.

      He must have been a great talent.

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 7 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Until today,I hadn't heard that routine. Thanks Nellieanna.

    • Mentalist acer profile image

      Mentalist acer 7 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!


    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 7 years ago from TEXAS

      Indeed, Mentalist - George was very keyed into truer definitions. Thanks for the read, and by the way, I'm flattered to be mistaken for katiem! (giggle)

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 7 years ago from TEXAS

      I tend to agree with you, breakfastpop. The more one studies the body of his life's work, the more obvious it becomes that he perceived things with uncanny insight. The odyssey of his own life is quite a testimonial, too.

      He'd been working on his autobiography & a one-man Broadway show about his life prior to his death. After he died his collaborator on the projects edited the manuscript, released as "Last Words". The book covers Carlin's life up to a point and expands on his future plans, including theone-man show. The book was released a year & four months after his death. Sounds like a good read.

      Another book he wrote, dedicated to his widow, Sally Wade, tells the story of their courtship & is due to be released in 2011. It will be called "The George Carlin Letters: The Permanent Courtship of Sally Wade." Much in this book have was unpublished before, describing private moments shared between Sally and George. They make his life story more complete.

    • Mentalist acer profile image

      Mentalist acer 7 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

      I sometimes get the feeling that George was impossibly impressed by anything that would be considered a true definition,thanks for sharing katiem...right now I'm in the middle of his 1977 debut on HBO.;)

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 7 years ago

      George Carlin was a genius!


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