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Monday, June 23, 2008

Comedy: Legendary Comic George Carlin Dies

By Noah Mallin

I remember watching HBO as a little kid and being totally blown away by the ribald, mind-expanding commentary of George Carlin, who died today at 70. I collected a whole bunch of his cassettes by the time I was 14 including Toledo Window Box, Class Clown, FM & AM, and An Evening with Wally Londo Featuring Bill Slaszo.

Lenny Bruce had opened the door to a new style of comedy in the 1960s before his tragic death, and he payed dearly for it. Carlin was already doing comedy at this point but in a gentle, observational vein more reminiscent of Bob Newhart. By the early 70s he had transformed into a counterculture hero, sticking it to religion, government, and especially the foibles of everyday life.

He suffered his share of abuse and arrests for his profanity-laced material, as Bruce had. He also shared Bruce's penchant for drug use if not for the types.

His most famous routine is the "Seven Dirty Words" which actually led to a Supreme Court case upholding a fine against a radio station which dared to play his bit detailing the words you couldn't say on television.

Carlin would win a boatload of Grammys for his records and Cable Ace awards for his 14(!) HBO specials. He grew crankier and more philosophical as he got older but he was almost always able to locate the humor in his observations of everyday life.

There is almost no comedian working today who wasn't influenced in some way by Carlin.

1 comment:

Ryan Mason said...

To me, this feels quite sudden.

Some time ago the History Channel had a special on the history of the joke and he was in it talking about his past of being a comedian. Then a few months later hes dead - isn't life something?

btw - this is the kid that you met on monday during lunch at pdf. How have you been in these past few days?