Monday, June 23, 2008

George Carlin

George Carlin was the most original, out-of-the-box, courageous comedian of our era. And yet the one time I met him it was when he was doing a sitcom. He was soft-spoken, friendly, and quite unassuming...until he opened his mouth and you realized immediately that this was a brilliant very special man.

The gift of humor is being able to see things in a different, slightly askew way. Carlin's view of life, society, politics, and the human condition was unique and yet so recognizable as true.

We have lost a genius -- comic and otherwise. We have also lost our greatest Bullshit Detector.

34 comments:

Vermonter17032 said...

Can't add anything to that. He'll be missed.

Mary Stella said...

That's so sad. Besides his famous "7 Words", I loved his bit on stuff and some of his roles in film. The part of the priest in Dogma jumps to mind.

Jason said...

Found out about this when I got to work tonight, then listened to some of his clips on Youtube for the next 3-4 hours. I still can't wrap my head around it.

Anonymous said...

He was the very best. As a kid, I found Take Offs and Put Ons in my dad's record collection and wore out the grooves listening to Wonderful WINO and the Hippy Dippy Weatherman and "Congolia Breckenridge, My that's a colorful name." In high school we memorized the routines FM & AM (the ode to his hair) and Class Clown (7 words). His performing persona, especially lately, was that of an angry, cranky guy, but person-to-person, he was very generous, supportive and encouraging to those of us who were trying to emulate him--make people laugh. He also kept working hard to stay creative, and not fall back as lesser comics have done, on a greatest hits package of once-fresh routines.

Jayne said...

The comedy world just became a little less funny.

spearNmagicHelmet said...

what a great comedian. what a man.

Bill Stankus said...

I didn't know him but I'm taking this in a personal way. I mean, when you lose The Guy who constantly hit the bull's eye, trashed myths and drove a 'dozer through society's crap and at the same time made you laugh... ah, damn.

cpo snarky said...

I cried a little in my meatcake this morning

Wayne said...

"Tonight's forecast: Dark. Continued dark throughout most of the evening, with some widely-scattered light towards morning."

John Hudgens said...

May Joe Pesci watch over him...

Damn.

Lairbo said...

I heard him lecture at a symposium on satire 30-plus years ago. He knew his stuff, came with a stack of books to refer to and recommend and, unlike a couple of the other guests (who were a delight to see close up, nonetheless), he didn't just come in, run his act.

Yes, he will be missed.

Wayne said...

Carlin is now on his Fuck Eternity tour.

tb said...

Had no idea. Just learned of it here. damn.

jbryant said...

I think I was 14 when FM and AM came out. I'm not sure what compelled my dad to buy it -- but boy am I glad he did. The whole family would sit around listening to it. For this budding smartass with a love of language, it was manna from heaven. This is a bigtime bummer. I was looking forward to him getting older and even more crankily misanthropic. RIP

Anonymous said...

I saw George Carlin at The Troubador 30 years ago and laughed so hard I literally, physically, hurt. I saw him Vegas 3 years ago and he was still sharp and-- how do you describe him?--brutally funny.

Like all the really good ones who are it for a long time he wasn't great all the time (the sitcom made him seem like any angry little man instead of the sharpest guy in the room), but with his best stuff he was peerless. Sui generis.

Gail Renard said...

Awww, if I had to hear of George Carlin's passing/ expiration/ negative life state, I'm glad I heard it from you, Ken, a kindred spirit.

Carlin isn't really known in Britain, where I live now, but when I was growing up in Canada, he was my hero. Still is. Always will be. Genius, kindness and comedy, what an unbeatable combo.

rob! said...

his routines on the abuse of language to hide meaning (specifically, his bit about the term "shell shock") were brilliantly funny and true.

r.i.p. george!

VP81955 said...

If I ran a baseball team, tonight I would play Carlin's "baseball vs. football" routine as a tribute; it's brilliant.

If he had done nothing other than that, he would have had my undying gratitude. But of course, he did so much more.

Thanks, George. Somewhere, St. Peter's not going to mind that you didn't believe, because you made him laugh.

Anonymous said...

He's had so many great stand up routines throughout the years, but the best moment of his on tv came two years ago on Bill Maher's show where he called Barbara Bush an old douchebag. I still giggle every time I think of that one brilliant observation. Hee.

Stacey

A. Buck Short said...

His evolution from Class Clown was really wonderful, not that the former wasn't something. For me somewhat unfortunate. He was Al Sleet and Biff Barf while I was on college radio. By the time I went commercial he was Bruce/Sahl and more. I had nobody to continue stealing from – not on THAT station. The great thing is he evolved, but then didn’t regress like so many of the rest of us. One of the few reasons I’m still occasionally able to trust somebody over 30. Appreciate everyone’s spot-on comments.

Batocchio said...

You said it. One of the all-time greats. He will be missed.

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

I've seen exactly one comic live in concert and it was Carlin, back in the early '70s in San Mateo, CA. Even though I knew the routines by heart, I laughed as much as I did the first time I heard them.

I also recall fondly seeing him as the conductor on Thomas and Friends, which I watched with my little one about 15 years ago.

A great guy and a brilliant, innovative comic.

deluca said...

nicely said Ken. I actually met the man once when I was a lowly NBC page. He was gracious as could be and made me and everyone else around me quickly feel at ease. His legacy is rich and his voice will be missed.

TCinLA said...

When I heard this sad news, only one of the Seven Words went through my mind. Still there.

Fuck.

Mike Barer said...

I think that George was an American Classic. May he rest in peace.

Bitter Animator said...

Yep, a great loss. Bye Mr.Carlin.

Tallulah Morehead said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tallulah Morehead said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tallulah Morehead said...

I called him a "World Class bullshit Detector" in the tribute piece I posted on my flog as well. Glad I posted it hours earlier.

I respected George for, among so many things, being too smart to fall for The God Lie and not shying away from saying so. He's not saying anything to St. Peter (and would be appalled that anyone said he did) as George knew that he wasn't moving on, passing on, or going to a better place. (Holland?) He's ceased to exist, and we are all the poorer for it.

I never met him, but I always heard that he treated everyone, from star to parking attendant, as an equal. He never talked down.

In my piece, I honored him by employing all 7 words, and a few additional ones. (How did "Asshole" and "Jism" not make the list? NBC will still frown on your using them.)

And then, to lose charming, daffy, delightful Dody Goodman the same day. Too much laughter died today. I did meet Dody a few times, and she was just as off-the-wall, naturally irrepressibly funny in life as on TV.

The world is a lot less funny today.

Cheers anyway.

The Crutnacker said...

I remember hearing bits and pieces of Carlin for years (I was 3 months old when FM and AM was recorded, so I missed its first run) but I didn't really begin to know and love the man until college when I pulled an album off the shelf of WTBU-640 (heard only in a 150 foot radius of the speaker where the station was located) and I heard this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKPuDeYaFbs

Don't ask me why, but this bit and this album have stuck with me for years. It caused me to purchase Classic Gold, which is a compilation of Carlin's FM & AM, Occupation Foole, and Class Clown. It's an amazing run of albums and even though it is close to 40 years old, still makes me laugh.

Carlin was a master of words and his love of language is what made me fall in love with his work.

Not sure if anyone can shed some light on it, but I noticed Carlin's humor shifted to very dark and mean spirited in the last decade or so of his life. So much so that I turned off his last HBO special about 10 minutes in. I always wondered if the death of his first wife had something to do with it.

George, we'll miss you. Hope the roof you've been flung onto isn't that hot.

Anonymous said...

First saw him at Santa Monica College in the early 70s. I became an instant fan. Later, my wife and I saw Carlin in Vegas. About 5 minutes into the show, two 70-something couples got up and walked out. Guess the "7 Dirty Words" bit was too much for them to take. A few years ago, I saw him in Marin County. A woman in the audience kept shouting out responses to his material. Finally, an exasperated Carlin yelled "Can somebody put a dick in her mouth?!" The woman sank into her seat, then made a hasty retreat for the exit. I know Carlin wasn't religious, but if there's a God, there must be a special place in heaven for somebody like George Carlin.

Mike Barer said...

Sorry, but perhaps, being out of the box as he was, George would like this tribute.
Good bye George Carlin
and Fuck you!

D. McEwan said...

"I know Carlin wasn't religious, but if there's a God, there must be a special place in heaven for somebody like George Carlin."

Loving and well-intentioned, but unless you'd said "a special place in Oblivion," George would tell you that you missed his whole point.

Now would someplease put a dick in my mouth?

Anonymous said...

I saw Carlin at St Johns University in Queens in 1973. He came out doing one of his then current routines, was a riot as always, and then he realized where he was:
he looked at the audience and said "hey, St Johns, Irish Catholic" and proceeded to go off routine telling jokes about Father this, Sister that, confession all spontaneous and ad lib I think.

Only downside was that my date and I were Jewish kids from the Bronx and it didn't have quite the same impact on us as it did for most of the audience.

Wonderful memory though.