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More on George

Carlin's important enough to get two posts.

Despite the initial reaction I had, I'm not sad about the death of George Carlin. Really, what reason should I be sad for? Why should anyone be sad? If there's one person that wouldn't feel sad about the death of George Carlin, it's George Fuckin' Carlin!

Remember that this is a guy that has stated time and time again that he doesn't believe in the afterlife, and doesn't take very seriously man-made stories about "God" and all this other markish bullshit that we're - and he was - taught to believe. This is a guy who, in his latest special (and really, if you can see it off of a torrent - they should be easy to find now, shit I might link one later - check out his face; he didn't look good), made his first jokes about deleting dead people from his address book, and the bullshit we say about dead people. Years ago, he said we could use cemeteries as places for low-cost housing for the homeless. George didn't give a shit about death when he was alive, and I'm quite sure he gives less than a shit about it now that he's dead. Shit, if you were to ask him how he wanted his funeral, he'd give you hot dogs, marshmallows and chocolates to cook over his ashes! He'd probably have George's S'mores marketed!

Of course, when you do the things Carlin's done as long as he has, you kinda forget that people are mortal. I told my mother about it early this morning when she woke up, and her first reaction was "Oh no! You never think it's going to happen to someone like George, you think he's going to live forever!". The first thing that popped into my head was Carlin's own voice, saying from "Life Is Worth Losing": What're you fuckin' surprised!? Not only was he 71 years old, but that 71 year old body had A LOT of mileage on it. Think about it! He spent about the entire 70s on cocaine, and battled addiction almost to his dying day; don't forget he relapsed on pain medications in 2005.

Then again, I'm in that same category. I took Aileen to see him in 2006 or 2007, when he was still doing stuff from Life Is Worth Losing, and while it must have been shocking for poor Aileen (who'd never heard of Carlin before; when a shy, innocent young woman hears someone's first words, and they are "you know what no one talks about anymore? Pussy-farts!", it leaves an impact. XD), but for me, I was able to virtually recite his whole act; I'd heard it time and time and time again on the CD. Therefore, when he came back to Northampton in May, the weekend before Aileen's finals, I wasn't quite as excited to go see him; after all, I had listened to It's Bad For 'Ya time and time again like every other album of his, and being at that theatre was annoying mainly due to the faggots that work there, and the money was tight, and hey, it's not like I won't get another chance, right? After all, I thought Life Is Worth Losing was his coda - one I didn't expect - and he came out and made ANOTHER album, was still touring - still, at 71! - and when you get surprised again and again, the surprise becomes accepted norm. Much like my mother, it never crossed my mind as any more than a passing thought that George Carlin might die, when in reality, the man has been living on borrowed time for 15 years.

Now, everyone's making their little news blips; seemingly, George's Title has become "Seven Dirty Words Guy". That's kinda sad, because that's not how I'll remember him. If you want to go back to that era, his forcing the Supreme Court to get involved - and almost fucking winning! - is more important, but I grew up on a different Carlin than the one that is constantly referenced by people that only know the seven dirty words, and know so little about them that they forget he added three more later in the 70s (fart, turd and twat). I remember listening to Playin' With Your Head as a child of about six or seven; I didn't understand why some things were funny, just that they were, though I did learn a lesson in what NOT to say at school, repeating some of the lines for my first grade teacher. But I came into my own listening to his more political thoughts about Iraq (the first time), airport security, and reading his books. As he got older, some would say he got more bitter; that's an arguable point, but personally, I felt he became an educator. Comedy isn't just about listening to someone talk about the differences between men and women and making the same tired fucking jokes again and again. What I remember most about Carlin was someone who was internet and computer savvy until the day he died, was constantly learning new ways to do and look at things, and was sharper about things that affected younger generations than the people in said generations. I remember someone who played Mr. Conductor deriding the culture of child worship that our overly liberal society has put forth. Keep Al Sleet and Biff Barf; I'll keep that Carlin from Life Is Worth Losing.

As far as my own comedic tendencies, most of them were incubated by Carlin acts. Not only did I pick up a lot of the comedic timing that has made me the writer and personality I am today from him, but I also learned how to cope with pain through humour, much of that being thanks to him. I coped with Andre and Jo-Ann with Back In Town. I coped with Bob Silva with What Am I Doing In New Jersey. And I don't know what mental state I'd be in if I didn't learn how to cope with Jon Secere by using the dry, sarcastic humour that became Carlin's calling card.

Finally, the obvious question at this point is, who can carry Carlin's torch? You know, the same one he caught from Lenny Bruce, and shared with Richard Pryor? I'm honestly not sure. I don't know if Jon Stewart is that kind of comedian anymore. David Cross isn't on Carlin's level. Carlos Mencia isn't on Carlin's level. The closest I can think of - someone who makes people think while being funny and not being shocking for the sake of stupid, Dane Cook level shock value, is Chris Rock. Personally... I'm not sure he's up to that task, the task of being the Next Carlin, or more realistically, the Next Prior.

Either way, instead of mourning, I'm going to celebrate the man and his life. Hopefully, he was telling the truth when he said that he had enough information on his hard drives to make four or five more books; that would be the ultimate treat. I still feel like he's got more to teach me.

To paraphrase from Bill Maher, give me 71 Carlin years over 150 Dick Cheney years any time.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Jun. 23rd, 2008 11:58 pm (UTC)
Stewart hosted the tribute to Carlin, not so long ago, and one of the last things Carlin did on that show was make a note – a compliment, even – that Stewart was the one who was most likely to take up after him. Really, though, no one can replace the man. Like Pryor, he was one of a kind.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )