The Talking Dog

June 23, 2008, National treasure lost

It's hard to put enough superlatives on comedian George Carlin, who passed away at 71 of heart failure. He took "edgy" comedy all the way to mainstream. Most famous for "the seven dirty words" that was just one bit of an infinite variety that basically came down to the theme of how absurdly hypocritical our entire social order is, and how, when it is called out, the only rational response is laughter (albeit often uncomfortable laughter).

One bit, for example, concerned a suggestion "by the government" that Mohammed Ali "change jobs". The government said "we want you to kill people now." Mohammed thought a moment and said, "I'd just like to keep beating them up... I don't want to kill them..." The government said "sorry, if you won't kill them, we won't let you beat them up."

He was that kind of a gad-fly: a man who dared touch the uncomfortable raw nerves of the hypocritical edge of social glue... and drew... laughs from it. In other parts of the world (places like Burma, Iran or elsewhere), comedians of this kind-- who take on the existing power structure-- often find themselves in jail. And yet, despite the fact that the United States was not such a country where one needed to fear such things-- few dared to go where Carlin went routinely.

At 71, he was still as fresh as he was in the 1960's and 70's... he was, I suspect with no hyperbole whatsoever, America's greatest living comedian, and given the length of his career, quite possibly America's greatest comedian, ever, period. What else can you say?


George Carlin and Lenny Bruce. The truth will set you laughing.

Posted by Michael L at June 23, 2008 10:00 AM

When was the last time someone quoted a Lenny Bruce routine? Did Lenny Bruce ever ignite himself while freebasing and make a routine out of it? Sorry, I'm in the Dangerfield and Pryor camp.

Posted by Just Wondering at June 24, 2008 2:04 PM