Thursday, June 26, 2008

RIP George Carlin 1937-2008

The acknowledged King of Comedy (in most circles anyway) is Lenny Bruce, with Richard Pryor an arguable second. George Carlin should also be classified in the same rarified air, and the cold hard fact is that most baby boomers saw and heard a lot more of the forever-feisty Carlin than the gloom and doomed Bruce. Carlin, like most of his audience, transitioned from hipster to hippie right in front of our eyes, from Ed Sullivan to Saturday Night Live, from comic LPs to HBO specials. Carlin shaped himself into a blue-collar philosopher, a workingman’s thinker, and his brand of comedy was among the first that was drug fueled and informed rather than soaked in alcohol. Carlin’s greatest (and coolest) comedic weapon was his wordplay, and his obvious adoration and puzzlement of and about the everyday American idiom. When on the top of his game (he had an undeniable long term of sustained showbiz excellence), there was nothing quite like his New York City staccato delivery, alternately barking out phrases or enunciating another newfound language absurdity in virtual slow motion, with a comic sensibility that was directly drawn from his Roman Catholic/Irish background, spiced with a solid sprinkle of marijuana logic, a never aging rebel with a cause.


mdoggie said...

Deanna and I met George Carlin last year. We were treated to the show and a backstage visit by a coworker of Deanna's who knew George because of his health issues.
He was very gracious to us interlopers, patiently and pleasantly talking about his preparation for the show and how all of his live shows were simply rehearsals for his HBO special.
He was ultimately a very literate and meticulous writer, a craftsman. In attendance at the show were the expected baby-boomers and aging hipsters. A pleasant surprise though, was the large number of youngsters in their teens and twenties accompanying their boomer parents. They laughed as we did at that age at George's easy profanity and incessant teasing of the boundaries of good taste and social taboo. George was masterful at taking the mundane and turning it into profane and profound with an assault of wordplay and clever, analytical deconstruction. May he RIP.

Scotty D said...

Darren Hill sends this along:


I was just reading this from a newsletter I subscribe to:

I had just gotten in at my place of employment at the time which was the afternoon / night shift at Tower Records on the Sunset Strip, I was 22 and the year was 1972, while walking over to my section of the store, my section was the comedy section... meaning I had to take records from the under stock and make sure that they were represented in the display up on top, I look and I see one Mr. George Carlin looking through my section. Now George was at the top of his game at the time, he and his manager had just started their own record company called "Little David Records" for which the only other artist on the label at the time was a little known jazz / folk singer named Kenny Rankin..... sorry to say but at that time he wasn't my cup of tea but still I had received a promo of his album and gave it a listen which said a lot because I used to take albums I had no use for directly over to Aaron's Records, for those of you who don't know Aaron's Records was a place on Melrose Ave. here in Los Angeles where you could take your used and new albums and turn them into $$$$$$.... something that was in short supply in those days. Tower Records was never known for paying their employees a lot of money, I think they figured with all the free records, tee shirts, concert and let's not forget the store groupies... you were doing pretty well. I didn't complain I had no bills to pay except for rent.

OK back to George, so I walked up to him and I tell George how I've been listening to his new LP "Class Clown" religiously and playing it in the store until all of the other employees were sick of it, I know how many times can you listen to the same joke over and over again. Sorry but I loved it and for me it was a learning experience. I asked George joking "would you please show me how you do your Ed Sullivan" and much to my surprise he showed me by saying. "By now you know, by now you know, just before the aero photography picture of Kate Smith, Topo Gigio the little faggot mouse will be out here to do his thing". Even thought I'd heard it before on record I laugh so hard that I cried.

So we talked for a while. Lets face it George always was one of us.... just peopl,e none of that movie star crap for him... and that's what we all loved him for.

He had a boxed set (stay with me now, this is where the story gets good) of classical LP's under his arm and asked me "do you have a LP resealer in the back room of the store?".... we were told by Tower management never to mention the LP resealer, it was Tower's dirty little secret and you could get fired for that on the spot, so without so much as thinking twice I said "yeah we have one." He said to me that he was flying to New York tonight and that tomorrow was his friend's birthday and wouldn't it be funny if when his friend opened up the LP he found some drugs inside it instead of LP's. I said "ABSOLUTELY I WOULD", so we proceeded to the back room of Tower Records where we heated up the shrink wrap machine and opened up the box set of LP's that he had and took the albums out of the box and at that point I was thinking maybe he had a little pot to put inside, but George was the big time and there it was.... WOW ... George reaches into his pants and pulls out the biggest bag of cocaine I had ever seen in my life... so we proceeded to put the bag of coke into the box set and as I thought ... "sorry George" it wouldn't fit, no problem he said and he opens up the baggy and puts a big pile of coke on the record sleeve, puts the bag back into the box set and it still wouldn't fit, so George take some more out and we finally get the bag to fit, we send it through the resealer and shrink wrapper until the LP looked just like new. George thanked me very much and I inquired "what about that pile of coke sitting there" he said "no problem, that's for you for your services" You've got to be joking...."no, that's for you" :):):):) I was used to buying small amounts and never had that much for personal use ever...I said "Thanks George !!!!!!" I clean up everything in the back room and walk him out to the front entrance shook his hand and thanked him for everything.... for me a banner day at Tower.