Monday, June 23, 2008

Bye, George

George Carlin dead at 71.

I can honestly say that no other comedian had a larger impact on me than did George Carlin. Carlin was the super-hip, underground comic of those who grew up in 1970s. Only Cheech & Chong even came close to Carlin in this category.

By the time I got to high school, I already knew a number of Carlin’s routines by heart. His bits about Catholic grade school were particularly funny to me at the time, having just experienced it myself.

Carlin is perhaps best known for the famous “Seven Words” bit where he discusses the seven words you can’t say on television. I remember hearing that played on a friend’s record player and it was indeed the first time I’d heard those words coming from an electronic device. There really was no saying those words on TV or radio back then. And, of course, when someone did try to play that bit on the radio it led to a famous broadcasting legal ruling.

Once, in 1977, I recorded one of Carlin’s HBO specials off my TV. Now, when I say recorded, I mean an audio recording since no one had video recording at the time. I played that tape back endlessly for years. I still have it, but I now also have the DVD of that HBO special.

Even my five year-old son has heard Carlin, but I’m sure he has no idea who he’s listening to. Carlin was the narrator for many of the Thomas the Tank Engine shows and he was a voice of one of the characters in the movie Cars.

I never saw Carlin live. I know he performed here in Springfield in later years but I didn’t take the time to go see him. I really should have.

RIP, George. Thanks for the millions of laughs.


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JeromeProphet said...

He was incredibly gifted. And we're fortunate that he shared that gift with the rest of us.