Many modern comedians of today have been nothing more than a flash in a pan. We see comedians come and go and become trends such as Carlos Mencia and Dane Cook. Great comedians leave a lasting impression that changes culture itself. Before Louis C.K., Patton Oswalt, Bill Maher, and Dennis Leary there was only one social critic. George Carlin’s epic comedic legacy spans multiple generations. Without Carlin’s sharp political commentary I doubt such shows, as The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, or Real Time would ever come to exist. George Carlin never had his own show; rather he was paving the way for what comedians could do on stage.
George Carlin was always pushing the boundaries and walking the line of controversy. Along with comedians like Lenny Bruce, George Carlin was at the forefront of altering the face of comedy forever. Coincidentally George Carlin was present at Lenny Bruce’s infamous arrest for obscenity. After the performance the police began detaining members of the audience for questioning. They proceeded to ask Carlin for his identification. George Carlin then told the police he did not believe in government-issued IDs. Immediately after, he was arrested and taken to jail with Bruce in the same vehicle. George Carlin went on to have his own controversial act known as the seven words you can never say on television. George said, “Those are the heavy seven. Those are the ones that’ll infect your soul, curve your spine and keep the country from winning the war.” Such a bold statement rings true in today’s society. As we live in a country still at war trying to shield the public from so many things, today’s America is hell bent on being clean and sanitized in so many ways. Like Lenny Bruce, Carlin was arrested for performing this act. This was the start of Carlin’s rise to fame.
Carlin went on to have many great performances and even winning a Grammy for his comedy album “FM & AM.” Carlin was the voice of a frustrated generation who were bitter at those who had everything and were taking advantage of the ones who had nothing. Carlin was a maverick in many ways. Carlin gave up on voting because he believed that elections were nothing more than an illusion of choice. The last time he voted was in 1972 and it was for George McGovern. As for religion Carlin was a well-known atheist although he was raised Roman Catholic. Ironically, later in his career he portrayed a high priest in Kevin Smith’s Dogma. One of his many famous lines on religion was that he would never be apart of a group that requires or bans the wearing of hats. In many ways Carlin predicted what the businessmen would do to the country. He states, “There is no morality in business just ledger, keep it in the black. Never mind your soul, never mind the landscape, never mind the other guy.” George Carlin has also had some memorable roles in many of Kevin Smith’s films. In case you forgot he also had a major role in the Bill and Ted movies as well.
The last time I saw George Carlin we when he had his HBO special It’s Bad for Ya. Almost prophetic as I heard him talk about how the elderly die. In my eyes I never saw George as an old person. Perhaps because he remained young at heart. In every live performance you could see how much he genuinely enjoyed entertaining an audience. At the end of the day that’s what its all about. Comedy is not about creating trends on the Internet or trying to get your own sitcom or show on Comedy Central. Comedy is about entertaining and making people feel good and forget their shitty days through laughter. George Carlin did that for a greater part of his life and for almost 50 years. For all the smiles and laughs, I dedicate this article to one of the greatest comedians of all time. Thank you Mr. Carlin.