Monday, June 23, 2008

George Carlin

I'm sure everyone knows about Carlin by now. I'm really pleased he had one more HBO special in him before he kicked off. I saw it a couple of months ago and he was still kicking butt. George was my hero. Pretty much everything he said I agreed with. His bit about global warming really opened my eyes. "The planet's fine. It's the people that are fucked" is one of the most profound things I've ever heard a comedian say. His ability to step back and see the absurdity of the world has helped me more than a little bit.

I wasn't one of those guys that listened to Carlin secretly while growing up. I didn't really start appreciating him until I was 21 years old. I remember I bought the album "Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics" and I was hooked. He's one of the few artists that I have listened to pretty much everything he did and, as he got older, he got funnier and more edgy. Edgier? Sometimes he could come off as bitter and angry but for someone whose eyes were as open as his how could he observe the world and not be more than a little disgusted as he aged. As George said, "I don't have pet peeves. I have psychotic fucking hatreds." He may have been angry but he was still the funniest out there. He always went for the laugh.

I'm curious to see what kind of theme the ridiculous political cartoonists come up with to commemorate George. I admired that he was a devout atheist to the bitter end and I hope not to hear that he had a death bed conversion. Well, if he did you can't blame him. Those last few minutes when you know you are going to die have to be scary and we're hard wired for that god stuff.

I did see George once several years ago. Can you believe I had to be talked into going? I thank Diana for insisting I go. I believe she said something along the line of "Isn't he about your favorite comedian in the whole world? Why aren't you going, asshead?" So, we went. It was great, of course. I think it must have been in 2002 and he delivered a masterful reading of his "10 Commandments" routine. About 75 percent of the material I had heard before in a recent HBO special but the fresh 25 percent was special. There were a couple of routines that he was still fleshing out and he was referring to some notes as he performed. You got to had him that, he was always working on new material. He might bring out an old classic like "Stuff" or "Football and Baseball" but there was always something new added to it.

So yeah, he was one of my heroes. He was a genius. He was hilarious and he had some of the best comedic timing ever. And his books were funny. He made funny faces and could do cool voices and he was as comfortable in front of a crowd as a person could be and he shared swallows by holding the microphone to his throat.


Michael E. said...

When i heard he was dead you were the first person I thought of.

You and i both had that poster of dirty words.

He was a genius.

Angi said...

He was utterly brilliant, for sure. I remember taping "icebox man" among other things off the radio when I was in High School, loved that mix tape to probable death.