Tuesday, June 24, 2008

George Carlin 1937-2008

By now, everyone must know that George Carlin died of heart failure.

I don't recall exactly when I first saw George Carlin. I do know that I saw him on a lot of TV variety and talk shows, going back to the late-'60s. Back then and through the 1970s, I bought comedy albums as often as I bought albums by my favorite rock 'n' roll groups. As you can see, hubby and I have a lot of George Carlin's comedy on vinyl. Just about all the early ones were mine.

We were fortunate to see him in concert a couple of times, most recently, a few years ago. He was a force on stage in his quietly manic way. He was the ultimate Everyman. So many people have talked/written/blogged about his routines. About Al Sleet, the Hippy Dippy Weatherman ("Tonight's forecast is dark, followed by partly light at dawn." I might not be remembering that exactly right.). About the 7 words you can't say on tv (see pic above from one of the albums). About his wonderful Baseball vs Football monologue, which is one of my favorites.

But I have a memory of a silly little bit he used to do. I'm sure it was him. Who else would have thought of such things? He had a way of taking the little things in life, the things that we did that shamed us, that we figured no one else did and that made us odd, and brought them to light in the whole "we're all alike" way. The one that stands out in my mind, because it was oh so true, was when he asked if we do what he does: do we dig and dig with our tongue to dislodge a piece of stuck food, and after we succeed, do we chew it and swallow? Oh, how he had a way of holding a mirror up to our foibles, and to the bits of life that made us human. Not just politicians. Not just the silly things in life that didn't make sense when examined closely. But everything that distinguished us from all other organisms on Earth. And then he made us laugh about them.

I'm going to miss his humor, but more, I'm going to miss his viewpoint.


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  1. My first George Carlin memory is a summer replacement show "Away We Go." Summer of 1967, Carlin clean shaven, neatly trimmed hair in a suit doing his Hippy-Dippy Weatherman routine. I thought the show's headliners were Steve Lawrence and Edie Gorme´ but the IMDB says Buddy Greco and Sheila MacRea, what do I know, I was thirteen and comedy impressed me more than lounge singers. That was my first exposure to Richard Pryor as well.

  2. I'm never sure about imdb. I thought he was on the Smothers Brothers more than is listed. I do recall the Merv Griffin and Mike Douglas shows and Flip Wilson's show having him on.

  3. In case you were unaware this Saturday night NBC is running the first episode of Saturday Night Live from '75 in which the comedic heavy lifting was done by Carlin. I recall working on an art project in college that night in the living room of my trailer when that came on the TV and I gave it part of my attention. The rest of my attention was taken up hopping on a sprained ankle around a sheet of acrylic I was painting something to be backlit in a local McDonalds.


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