Goddamn, it’s been a year for losing genius’. Now George Carlin is dead, aged 71. Truth be told, he was never going to outlive George Burns, not with his lifestyle, but still, he was arguably one of the best three or four stand up comedians of the 20th century, and his passing represents a real loss to anybody who appreciates hard-bitten, precise observation. His wasn’t the fluffy nothingness of a Jerry Seinfeld, or the cozy reinforcement of a Tim Allen or Jeff Foxworthy. Carlin trod the same path as the likes of Lenny Bruce, Bill Hicks, and Billy Connolly, challenging the perceptions of his audiences and the structural status quo of the culture around him. He was, by turns, savage, acerbic, loving, and radio-friendly, and yet managed to maintain his rage and sense of damnation through forty years and something like 20-odd albums. And he transcended age: my boys knew him from his appearances in movies like Dogma, Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back, and the Bill & Ted movies, and now they want to know more, to hear what he was all about.
I don’t own enough of his work: my predilection for collecting comedy albums on the original vinyl is shown up by Perth’s distance from anywhere meaningful for such endeavours. But what I have is brilliant indeed, and among my list of stuff to be rescued from house fires.
If you’ve not experienced his work before, there are lists of quotes all about. Here’s a couple for starters: here and here