Monday, June 23, 2008

George Carlin Passes Away

Comedy great George Carlin passed away at age 71 due to heart failure after a lifetime of blunt, intellectual humor. As a kid growing up in the 70's, Carlin's "Seven dirty words" bit was the Holy Grail of comedy (and is featured at BMH67WA blog at http://it-thoughts-observations-bmh67wa.blogspot.com/ ). It openly discussed all of my favorite words as an eight or ten year old in detail. My Dad even says we saw Carlin perform in the 70's at my insistence, which seemed vaguely familiar after he mentioned it. That one comic skit has stayed with me even up to now, the rebelliousness and controversy that I picked up on as a kid now more comprehensible as an adult.

After the Me decade I didn't think about Carlin as much, though he would appear in various TV shows and movies as the too-cool-for-school aging hipster. Most memorably, he was the guide in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure which solidified his position as elder statesman of liberal ethos while ironically playing a relatively conservative role.

George Carlin seemed to disappear after that or maybe I wasn't paying attention. Earlier this year I had the opportunity to see Carlin perform for a HBO special in Santa Rosa CA. Having not seen him in over a decade, Carlin had aged considerably and much of his opening monologue revolved around Death. It was a fun show and Carlin was in fine form with his raging intellect and no nonsense delivery intact.

George Carlin along with Richard Pryor defined stand up comedy in the 70's. They used the microphone as a platform to break down barriers and taboos of what could be publicly discussed about race, politics and censorship. Both also served as examples of the excesses of their time period with raging drug habits. Nonetheless, George Carlin will be remembered for his humor and freedom he represented. A very sad passing of a great comedian.

Below are links to the opening segments to his recent HBO special where he riffs on the premise of Death and people's reaction to it. Warning: like much of George Carlin's humor, there is a lot of profanity and irreverence for authority and religion / God. While I think most people who are familiar with George Carlin knows this, just thought I'd mention it to play it safe. There are seven parts in total on You Tube, here's the first two if you would like to check it out.


7 comments:

bmh67wa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bmh67wa said...

I think I found another use for the word f*ck:

Aw, f*ck. I never saw him live."

My loss. He will be missed by us all. :-(

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Some Kinda Wonderful said...

Never saw him live, my loss. Saw lots of his stuff on tv, tho. He was always one of my absolute favorites. So smart, just imagine what he could have done if not for all the drugs. That's the only part about it I never liked. But... each to his own, eh? Drugs just don't do it for me. Anyways... the world is poorer for his passing.

pamwax said...

I too never saw him in person but watched with delight his routines on TV. Will miss his humor. Great tribute. Thanks.

Mr. Mike said...

George Carlin was a great comic and will certainly be missed.

Jeb said...

RIP - George Carlin

He will be missed by us all! His humor really changed my life, in a good way.