Monday, June 23, 2008

George Carlin - Farewell to the Greatest of All Time

My idol, George Carlin, has died.

George Carlin has been a huge influence on me ever since I was a little kid, something you're going to hear a lot in the coming days from various entertainers. A lot of people will talk about staying up past their bedtime when they were a kid and sneaking on a George Carlin or Richard Pryor record with the volume turned down low so their parents wouldn't hear them listening to something so filthy. I was lucky enough to have parents that never imposed such limitations on me and I thank them for it because I got to experience Carlin at a very young age and have continued to do so for the last fifteen years.

Carlin is simply the greatest comedian to ever stand on a stage and will never be surpassed; his obsession with language, the little things we all do, and how this country has turned into a giant shopping mall all blended together to make a brilliant show. His world observations are what I will always remember him for and nobody could do it like George Carlin - there's no comedian on the planet who can make a fart joke and a political commentary in the same bit and make it seem like high-brow humor. The man saw life through a pair of eyes that I wish I could have for one day just so I could have a fraction of the man's wit.

When I first started putting my ideas down in blogs, all I wanted to be was like George Carlin, but that's like picking up a golf club and trying to be Tiger Woods. But the man exemplified the kind of commentator/comedian that I wish I could be. He's a champion of free speech and seemingly one of the few voices of reason in a world that just can't understand that no matter what you say, they're only words, context is what counts. Of course, we can't talk about George Carlin and free speech without these seven infamous words:

shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits.

Those seven iconic words set the standard for what is considered "indecent" in radio and television broadcasts - a decision that the First Amendment is still reeling from today.

Without people like George Carlin, I worry that we'll continue to just keep giving away various liberties in exchange for the feeling and illusion of safety and security. That's why I do what I do and say what I say, even if I'm less than a fraction of what George Carlin was, I just hope to carry on his ideas, even if they're to an audience of three people. We need more George Carlins in this world to commentate on all the bullshit going on, especially with the condition our society is in.

It would be nice to think that right now George Carlin is performing in front of an audience full of greats like Sam Kinison, Richard Pryor, Mitch Hedberg, Lenny Bruce, and Bill Hicks and commenting on the nuances of Heaven, but claiming such would be an insult to the man. George was never afraid to just come out and say, "there is no God," but when it came to comedy, he was God. I will sincerely miss George Carlin.


Jamie said...

As we might say, 71 George Carlin years ain't bad.

What a huge, important voice to lose. Lucky for us and many, many other people, we have a great body of work from him that can be listened to over and over. As it should be.

Mel D. said...

Oh but I agree with every word you have said in this blog, Ray.

George Carlin was the voice of vulgar reason that so many of us have come to know since we were children. Seeing him appear in some of my favorite flicks, watching his stand up, and hearing his records on vinyl are things I will always remember. He was one of the first comedians I ever listened to in defiance of my parents.

He and Richard Pryor are two of the greatest comedians ever, and as you said, they will both be dearly missed!

Jamie said...

I thought this was great, from the NYT obituary:

Although some criticized parts of his later work as too contentious, Mr. Carlin defended the material, insisting that his comedy had always been driven by an intolerance for the shortcomings of humanity and society. “Scratch any cynic,” he said, “and you’ll find a disappointed idealist.”

Still, when pushed to explain the pessimism and overt spleen that had crept into his act, he quickly reaffirmed the zeal that inspired his lists of complaints and grievances. “I don’t have pet peeves,” he said, correcting the interviewer. And with a mischievous glint in his eyes, he added, “I have major, psychotic hatreds.”