Monday, June 23, 2008

George Carlin

George Carlin has passed away at the age of 71.

I'm stunned. I've seen Carlin once at the Museum of Television and Radio in a Q&A session but never saw him perform. Now I won't get the chance. He toured constantly (his last performance was only a week ago) and part of me just figured he'd live forever.

Saying Carlin is an influence on me is like saying the Beatles are an influence on a musician. My parents told me never to watch him but by the time I got to high school, I snuck in an HBO special and was hooked. From then on, I grabbed up every record I could find and was always there when a new special premiered. My first six months on stage, whenever I was stuck I would think, "What would Carlin do?"

I doubt we'll ever see a more consummate stand-up comedian. He was so good at it he was never successful at anything else. He did movies, tv, books but they never had the impact of his stage persona. I don't think a week goes by where we don't talk about him. Even though I've never met the man face to face, I feel like a friend is gone.

Leave a comment if you loved George Carlin.


Renee said...

I heard this on the way into work and I felt like I heard an uncle passed away. Even through the bitter times [late 90's] he was a joy to listen to!

So sad.

It does, however, remind me of the first big CD-boxset purchases I ever made was of his albums in the 70's...we were visiting Johnny Clarke in Baltimore....I think we had been dating for 2 months at that point...

Anonymous said...

He was the best. I don't how else to put it. And Renee is right, its like an Uncle past away. He was that great voice that always could put things in perspective. Carlin really new how to laugh at all the crazy shit this world offers up. I'll miss his voice.

Mark said...

All I have to say is, shit, piss, f^&k, c$%t, motherf#$ker, c%^ksucker and tit. He was the master.

Marvel Knight said...

His stuff always will make me laugh, now and always. Have a great time in the balloon room up in west heaven, George.

Well miss you.

Brian Kunath said...

I can think of no other popular figure who has had more of an influence on me than George Carlin.

I made an audio tape of his HBO Carnegie performance and used to play it over and over in my friend Mike's basement, understanding about half of the language but getting all of the wit.

My mother took me to see him in 1985 at the Landmark Theater in Syracuse. He was fantastic live. Warm, friendly, casual, engaging, intimate. I remember a comedy warmup team who were heckled throughout their performance by the rubes who made up a good portion of any Syracuse performance. But once Carlin got up on stage, the crowd was rapt. A few people who shouted out got funny, friendly replies from Carlin, who would then continue on, laser like, with his routine.

He was commanding on stage in a way that was also completely comfortable and approachable. Like a good friend was telling you a brilliant story.

As he got older he got more cynical. His official stance was that he loved individual people but hated them as groups. A few of his performances were filled with a sort of vitriol toward humanity that couldn't be matched by William S. Burroughs. But Carlin's charm carried always carried him through. He still struck you as a guy who would talk to you at the airport.

I agree that he never really hit with his movies or TV shows. But I do love his books. Great books for the crapper--just open anywhere and you're immersed in his skewed intellect. What came through even more powerfully in his books was his finicky views on proper use of the English language. Carlin was a master communicator it seemed to genuinely irk him when people casually misused words.

I loved George Carlin. And I do feel like a member of the family passed away. Someone who helped shape me in a valuable and important way.

I think I'll use this comment as a new post on my blog.

TCB Walsh said...

JC I agree w/what you said: I assumed he'd live forever. Hard to imagine the comedy world without him. One of the absolute greats for sure. I did a tribute on Rock Turtleneck too.

Andrew said...

Baseball vs. football; one of the best routines over. "In football you receive a penalty. In baseball you make an error. Oops!"

He was great.