God Bless George Carlin

Even though he didn’t believe in organized religion, George Carlin was a spiritual cat. I don’t think any preacher could rail against the consumerism of the modern age as well as Carlin talking about “Stuff”.

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0 Responses to God Bless George Carlin

  1. Ptrk says:

    George, you will be sorely missed. Thanks for your help making one’s teenage years bearable. And thanks even more for continuing to be just as funny ever since. Rest in Peace.

  2. Hugo says:

    Still I reckon he’d be the first to admit that he’s in a bit of pickle right about now…

  3. Chris Weekly says:

    @Hugo: A pickle? Only way he’s in a pickle is if his will dictated he be interred that way. I’m w/ Carlin when it comes to organized religion — everyone should read Dawkins! — but if there were an afterlife he’d be clinking glasses at the head of a banquet table in his honor making all the old souls laugh themselves silly.

    Rest in peace, George Carlin, you were one of a kind.

  4. Hugo says:

    Chris, his metaphysical antipathies went far beyond “organized religion”, on which subject both Carlin and Dawkins are really, in historical perspective, paintywaist. No, old George was just spiteful and overreaching on religious matters, and seemed never to recognize that his unspecial experience of psycho-abusive school nuns had nothing to do with anything of cosmic import.

    He had a huge and even trained BS detector, but seemed never to detect how much BS he was slinging on his own.

    All in all, I’d guess that he’s in a bind right now.

  5. Jon Taplin says:

    Hugo-If George bet wrong about eternity, he’ll be the first to get the joke.

    I just like his anticonsumerist/materialist screeds.

  6. rhbee says:

    He lives on on HBO. His late night screeds against our fear of germs, his endless supply of iced water, his dark clothes and scratchy voice, his awareness of just how really funny we humans are, his laughter at the supreme being concept, even his hippy-dippy weatherman, all there, all the time, and in video too. Still, losing him serves to remind that death is a horseman on long, long ride. Damn, I would have liked to seen him live just one more time.

  7. John Hurt says:

    Dying Is Hard. Comedy Is Harder.

    Published: June 24, 2008

    THE honest truth is, for a comedian, even death is just a premise to make jokes about. I know this because I was on the phone with George Carlin nine days ago and we were making some death jokes. We were talking about Tim Russert and Bo Diddley and George said: “I feel safe for a while. There will probably be a break before they come after the next one. I always like to fly on an airline right after they’ve had a crash. It improves your odds.”

    I called him to compliment him on his most recent special on HBO. Seventy years old and he cranks out another hour of great new stuff. He was in a hotel room in Las Vegas getting ready for his show. He was a monster.

    You could certainly say that George downright invented modern American stand-up comedy in many ways. Every comedian does a little George. I couldn’t even count the number of times I’ve been standing around with some comedians and someone talks about some idea for a joke and another comedian would say, “Carlin does it.” I’ve heard it my whole career: “Carlin does it,” “Carlin already did it,” “Carlin did it eight years ago.”

    And he didn’t just “do” it. He worked over an idea like a diamond cutter with facets and angles and refractions of light. He made you sorry you ever thought you wanted to be a comedian. He was like a train hobo with a chicken bone. When he was done there was nothing left for anybody.

    But his brilliance fathered dozens of great comedians. I personally never cared about “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television,” or “FM & AM.” To me, everything he did just had this gleaming wonderful precision and originality.

    I became obsessed with him in the ’60s. As a kid it seemed like the whole world was funny because of George Carlin. His performing voice, even laced with profanity, always sounded as if he were trying to amuse a child. It was like the naughtiest, most fun grown-up you ever met was reading you a bedtime story.

    I know George didn’t believe in heaven or hell. Like death, they were just more comedy premises. And it just makes me even sadder to think that when I reach my own end, whatever tumbling cataclysmic vortex of existence I’m spinning through, in that moment I will still have to think, “Carlin already did it.”

    Jerry Seinfeld is a writer and a comedian.

  8. Dan says:

    I’m more or less with Hugo, except for the being-in-a-pickle part. But then I rarely think that stand-up comedy is funny.

    I get the general point he made in this particular bit, for example, and yet, as so often with Carlin, his material misfired. He built up this long rant on “stuff” and then reached his crescendo on–um–nasal decongestant spray? Was that, to him, the archetype of empty-headed consumerist acquisition?

    Then he gripes about stuff we carry in our pockets–keys are not useless consumer junk–and ends on a weird, anything-for-a-laugh riff on sex toys.

    He had a good point to make but he was scatterbrained and unfocused. Far funnier would have been something that riffed on a house with two occupants, three computers, four bedrooms, five cars, six bathrooms, seven televisions and eight telephones, with a giant “WELCOME FRIENDS” mat on the front porch and a nine-foot-high electrified security fence with cameras, infrared detectors and Dobermans surrounding the perimeter.

  9. Hugo says:

    Oh HELLyeah, and his riff on how completely full of shit is the obligatory FAA pre-flight announcement, I take that to my grave. Whether I shall see George therein or rather St. Peter, I’ve no idea.

  10. Another Jon says:

    Aww man..look at that big house. It has 4 rooms. And yeah…each room has a computer. Man that is funny….that big house with four rooms.

    Whew….let me catch my breath.

    You two sound like Carlin banged your fiance back in the 70s. Now THAT would be funny.

    The lesson learned here…if you are gonna bag on a dead comedian, you have to be funny.

  11. Hugo says:

    You got THAT right, AJ. Fo sho’.

    Provided the dead comedian was funny. Er, wait. On condition that, on the whole, said comedian was at some point of general public notice….

  12. Commentator says:

    Thank God Carlin has replaced Tim Russert as the funeral-of-the-week in the dog and pony show that is the TV press.

    See my rant on the Hippy-Dippy weatherman here:

    Al Czervic
    The Catskill Commentator

  13. treadmarkz says:

    Did Hugo just suggest that George Carlin was not “at some point of general public notice” ? If so,…..what?!!!

  14. Hugo says:

    Yes, er, wot, that said commedian was not or may not have been in point of fact generally noticed upon his perpetration of the putative incident generally brought in question…


  15. Dan says:

    I figured that, seeing as Carlin just took Russert’s place lying in state as the Revered Cultural Figure, criticism wouldn’t fly.

    Considering that I was a kid in the 70’s, he wouldn’t have banged my fiance, but thanks for the thought.

  16. Azmanon says:

    Humor has just left the room… I’m not much for stand-up comedy either but there must be at least some line out of Carlin’s life-long repertoire that has tickled the knuckles of you fellas?

    I highly doubt he ever expected everyone to laugh at or agree with everything he said. Unlike a lot of pathetic comedians he probably made people think as much as he made them laugh.

  17. Bob Kaminsky says:

    I was working with George, actually supposed to get together next Monday..He is the 11th recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor which will take place in memoriam next November at the Kennedy Center. Since Jon’s blog mostly deals with things that are political in nature it bears stating that George did not consider himself to be a political humorist. He was of the opinion that we’re screwed no matter who is in charge because human beings in groups are not to be trusted..that being said he said something recently that is a great take on our current administration.

    ” It used to be that poor kids had Head Start and now the economically disadvantaged have No Child Left Behind..It seems that we’re loosing some f**** ground here doesn’t it!”. Rest in peace George…right again.

  18. Chris Weekly says:

    @Hugo, in what way are/were Carlin and Dawkins “pantywaist”? It appears you simply disagree with them and thus go straight to name-calling. It takes courage to stand up to the majority on any topic, let alone one like religion over which people are often murderously passionate. To do so in a way that makes people laugh and think while you’re at it is simply remarkable.

    You’re entitled to your opinion of course, and I don’t expect to reach agreement w/ you here; you believe in hell and believe Carlin’s there, I get it. But to comment on someone’s death with essentially “they’re burning in hell now” is, to me, distasteful no matter what your beliefs. [shrug]

    To everyone else [and in Carlin’s memory], sorry to be so unfunny! I’ll try to make up for it next time I post. :)

  19. Hugo says:

    Chris, your post is so fresh precisely because it attempts no humor. I love George Carlin. Feel like I grew up with him. He took on the Supreme Court and WON, man? Did you know that? (cf. Pacifica)

    Whether he’s burning in Hell, or whether I shall do, is unknown to me and really of little consequence. I was just twitching his nose for being such and increasingly insufferable smartass about it all. The great, I mean the truly really great, thing about George Carlin is that he was a giant billboard for free speech. It was like, Mr. Adams said that George got borned with the right to speak freely and George ever after took that to the BANK! Craziest, jazziest free-speech freak since Thomas Paine, whom no other country would have.

    No, my thing about Mr. Carlin and the religious diatribes is that he never bothered to ease up a little on the possibility that some in his audience might possibly have drawn a distinction he never seemed to see: that between religion, and faith. I believe that he hurt a lot of people in that breach, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised were he downing a cold one with Saint Pete as we speak.

  20. Chris Weekly says:

    Thank you, on a few counts:

    (1) For continued politeness in the face of religious disagreement — all too rare, let alone in a website comment thread!

    (2) For illuminating your holistic view on Carlin (which is much much closer to mine than your original, brief, prima facie harsh “pickle” comment). “I wouldn’t be at all surprised were he downing a cold one with Saint Pete as we speak.” takes all the sting out of the rest of your comments, and makes it much easier to consider what else you have to say.

    (3) For easing my entry into public discussion of my personal beliefs; I’ve been at points in my life an ardent Presbyterian; a non-denominational Christian; a spiritually inclined agnostic; a philosophically ambivalent humanist; and only very recently an acknowledged atheist. This forum (both this and the other post on religious polling) have literally been my first forays into such discussions, even though I’ve been online since the web’s origins. Especially since I’m posting non-anonymously, having it be non-acrimonious is sincerely appreciated.

    Finally, an apology to Mr. Taplin and the other readers here; I’m sure noone else cares about any of this and I don’t wish to hijack this thread any further

    — except to say, in response to your spot-on
    “… truly really great thing… free speech.”:

    Amen. :)

  21. Jake says:

    Hugo said:

    “No, old George was just spiteful and overreaching on religious matters, and seemed never to recognize that his unspecial experience of psycho-abusive school nuns had nothing to do with anything of cosmic import.”

    He always talked good of the school he went to, and said that the nuns were always very nice. So where do you get this crap from?

    “Spirituality: the last refuge of a failed human. Just another way of distracting yourself from who you really are.”
    -George Carlin

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