Monday, June 23, 2008

George Carlin (1937-2008)

There's is a black and white glossy press shot of George Carlin over my desk. I still remember the day we booked the show, for New Year's Eve in our Morsani Hall. He did two shows.

I also recall there were some who attended who were so surprised at how foul-mouthed he was, and how negative they thought his act was.

My initial thought was to wonder if any of those people had perhaps caught Carlin's act since the '70s. If they were expecting the Hippy Dippy Weather Man.

The photo over my desk is the black and white version of the photo that appears on the cover of his book Brain Droppings. I have that book at home, along with When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops?

I know I've seen every one of the 14 or so HBO specials he's done at least twice. Many of them I saw live on the first airing. I used to hide in my uncle's room at my grandparents house (where I also saw all of the comedy specials up through about 1986) and listen to the records of A Place for My Stuff and the seminal Carlin on Campus.

He proved to me that he was in fact a very good actor in the movie Jersey Girl, where he was perhaps one of the brightest spots of the film.

There are also several Carlin bits/phrases that have totally made their way in to my common argot, personally and professionally. Um, I guess I can't really repeat any of them here but one deals with two people named Claus and Rebecca. There are also two bits that are preshow rituals several of us always do in the dressing room right before the places call. One is the "Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television" (a bit which took Carlin all the way to the Supreme Court) - spoken extremely rapidly and as a tongue-twister, the second is a cheer of sorts that deals with rats, bats and lizards.

I guess that doesn't even make much sense as a clue once you take all the swear words out.

George Carlin died last night at the tender age of 71. I think I thought that old codger would live forever. Easily one of the most influential stand-ups comedians of all time, his work will no doubt stand the test of time and effect the work of up and comers for generations.

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