Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Rest In Peace, George Carlin

Late one Saturday night in October of 1975--when I was very, very young--my parents fell asleep in the living room watching TV. I, however, was wide awake.

The TV was set to the local NBC affiliate. A bearded, crazy-looking dude came on and started making jokes about the church. I was a bit too young to really get the humor, but the studio audience was laughing up a storm. Just the crazed look of the man and the tenor of his voice was enough to make me laugh.

It was a brand new program called NBC's Saturday Night. (The title would be changed to Saturday Night Live a season or two later.) The crazy dude was George Carlin, whom I would appreciate more and more as I got older. One of my favorite comedy albums during my teen years was A Place For My Stuff.

Carlin died Sunday at the age of 71. That really, really sucks.

What doesn't suck, however, is the immense treasure trove of hilarious, incisive, offensive, profound and profane comedy he left to the world.

As I grew up into what is commonly referred to as "maturity," and came to the realization of the deep fucked-upedness of this world, there were a very few people who somehow managed to break through the All-Pervasive Membrane of Stultifying Homogeneity and lob a verbal grenade or two at the masses and remind them of all the fucked-upedness, and how ridiculous it all is and laugh at it with them, always just stopping short of asking them, "And what the fuck are you going to do about it?" Richard Pryor was one. Bill Hicks was another. But the high priest of them all was Carlin, carrying on the gospel bestowed upon him by his savior and messiah, Lenny Bruce.

He was the last of a dying breed, just when we need his kind the most.

ADDENDUM: Butler Shaffer has a rather nice piece on Carlin at LRC.

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