Monday, June 23, 2008


Wishful thinking, faith, and a few liberties:
George Carlin: "What in the Hell am I doing here?!?!?!

Voice: "Heart failure, George."

George Carlin: "No shit, asshole. I know... I went to the hospital and died. Do you think I'm stupid or something?"

Voice: It's always the New York City, Irish tough guys.

George Carlin: "Did you say something?"

Voice: "Ahem... sorry, just clearing my throat."

George Carlin: "That's what I thought, asshole."

Voice: "George, you can let your guard down a little now. You are amongst friends. Everything will start to become clear now."

George Carlin: "Jesus Christ, already I get it, man. I know who you are, I know where I am, and I know I'm dead! That's not it. This place isn't supposed to exist, and even if it did what in the fuck am I doing here?"

Voice: "Makes a nice change from the view of Jersey, doesn't it?"

George Carlin: "Well, yeah, it ain't bad."

Voice: "Don't just peek through the gates, walk on in."

George Carlin: "Look, asshole, this place just isn't for me... plus I don't want to go in simply on principle. I don't belong there."

Voice: "I can assure you that you most certainly do belong here. In fact, I have a job for you, my son."

George Carlin: "And I've got no time for all of your patriarchal bullshit."

Voice: "Actually, George, you have plenty of time for all of my, as you say, patriarchal bullshit."

George Carlin: "And how in the fuck did that jerkoff get here?"

Voice: "He did plenty of behind the scenes work, and I've always been partial to That's Life. He knows how to close a show, too. Dean hasn't been able to golf as much since he showed up... some parts of Frank will never change."

George Carlin: "Yeah, man, but that's all of those boring stiffs. Guys in suits trying to all be the same, laughing at shit they don't even understand... they're part of the problem, man."

Voice: "Then simply come in and show them, George. You have something to offer everyone... but we all have a little something for you as well."

George Carlin: "Fuck this Kumbiya shit!"

Voice: "George, please."

George Carlin: "I knew all you religious types would want to shut us up."

Voice: "No, George... swear all you like, if it pleases you. What I mean to say is that I hate that damn Kumbiya shit as well. Here, have one of these and relax."

George Carlin: "What do you mean, you have beer in this place?"

Voice: "Benjamin Franklin was right about a good number of things. Excuse me if I only have one, some of the boys are meeting up at Jilly's and, uh, Frank still expects a good turnout if you know what I mean."

George Carlin: "Don't cut this short and weasel out on me, asshole. I mean, I've got a few things I want to get clear with you, man."

Voice: "I know... your wife, the Middle East, wars, cancer, hunger, hurricanes, and everything. Look, George, I promise you will hear all about it. It will of course take some time to explain it all... but let's get one thing clear. I am glad to answer your questions, but I don't answer to you. I do this because I love you."

George Carlin: "Again with the patriarchal bullshit. Do you mind?"

Voice: "Yes. But since you've mentioned it, let me put it to you this way... you've always been a determined man. I respect that about you. You're clever, but not as much as you think. You're sincere. Once I make all of this clear, you'll be a positive boon. Not only that, but I've always loved that one from Parental Advisory-Explicit Lyrics. The long one."

George Carlin: "Get the fuck outta here!"

Voice: "It's true. Moses prefers Baseball and Football, though. I think John Paul II just started reading your book about The Boy and pork chops... what was the title? Never mind."

George Carlin: "Bullshit, you're just trying to butter me up."

Voice: "George, I can assure you that this is not bullshit, as you say. I've had some very angry, very bitter people arrive with quite a lot of material to cover. How do you think Jefferson reacted? That took some time, I can tell you. Don't get me wrong, I love a good long discussion and a lively argument. You'd be surprised how lively and entertaining Buckley is, George. I actually think you're going to like him. Speaking of your fans, Lenny's going to want your signature."

George Carlin: "Okay, okay, okay... I'll come in. Just don't ask me any of your damn favors."

Voice: "While you're here, I don't suppose you'd mind doing a solid 45 minutes for your Inaugural Performance, would you? It's the Copa Room."

George Carlin: "I said no fucking favors."

Voice: "It isn't a favor to me, I assure you. I think Mr. Kaye would like to see your shtick... is that the word?"

George Carlin: "Do you gotta warm-up act ready?"

Voice: "As I understand it, a number of hats were thrown into the ring... Mr. Korman is available, but there are more senior members who have requested the honor. Mr. Carson, Mr. Bishop, a junior member named Mr. Hedberg."

George Carlin: "He wasn't bad."

Voice: "No, he's actually quite good, but I much preferred his material the first time I saw it when he was called Steven Wright. Ha, ha! Do you see. You've already got me in the spirit."

George Carlin: "Who else?"

Voice: "Mr. Belushi said he'd do 15 minutes for you, so did Mr. Berle."

George Carlin: "Either of them would end up taking over the fucking stage."

Voice: "What about Mr. Dangerfield?"

George Carlin: "I don' know. Tell you what, surprise me."

Voice: "Excellent, George. I have you down for two hours from now."

George Carlin: "Say, why the fuck have you been doing a James Mason impression?"

Voice: "Oh, sorry... I finally got a chance to see Eddie Izzard."
I suspect that might annoy a number of George Carlin fans... and George, too. Which is in the spirit of George's material and his personality.

To write about George Carlin, especially in death, requires an obligatory mention of his list of Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television… which long since evolved into an Incomplete List of Impolite Words. It is like knowing Rush for “Tom Sawyer” or Led Zeppelin for “Stairway to Heaven” or Monty Python for “The Knights Who Say Ni”.

I’d just as soon as skip all that, especially since his career is so much greater than his funny indecency routine.

In the past 20 years, Carlin’s done a number of interesting performances… his material shifted much more radically into well-focused rants and bilious observations. Some of them were even funny. He also narrated a few seasons of Thomas the Tank Engine on television and voiced a character in a Disney movie (Fillmore from Pixar’s “Cars”).

You can forgive the man his move to more caustic diatribes and vicious sneering jabs that fill his comedy sets from the last, I don’t know, seven to ten years. His wife died in 1997. Their daughter mentioned it on a biography of Carlin. For such a counter-culture, “anti-establishment” (whatever that means anymore) guy he seems very conventional for a celebrity… at least in the respect that he was married to the same woman for that long, and only separated by death.

Taking a trip in the Way-Back Machine, a good friend of mine from fifth or sixth grade introduced me to George Carlin. Luke loved goofy humor, probably because his dad seemed to really enjoy that kind of humor. Within a matter of a few years we saw his return to HBO with his live Carnegie Hall comedy concert. He was a little mature for us, which made watching a little rebellious. Back in those days, you couldn’t see comedians like that doing their real material, at least not without toning down the language… sure he made numerous appearances on Johnny Carson’s show, but on HBO we saw him unfiltered.

Not that Carlin needed to be unfiltered to make you laugh… plenty of his routines were hilarious and needed no colorful elaborations. “Baseball and Football”, “A Place For Your Stuff”, observations on his dog(s), “Wonderful WINO”, the news, “Fussy Eater”, “Euphemisms”, and so on. That said, when you are twelve you’re still trying to figure out what is actually mature and what is simply vulgar… and one passes for the other in some cases.

Another trip in the Way-Back Machine, working in the newsroom and
an older coworker from a number of years back surprised the Hell out of me when he made a George Carlin reference. From that time on we had a comedic bond and regularly enjoyed a few good Carlin lines. My coworker was one of the anchors, which made it seem all the more funny… a guy folks do not look to for a sense of humor enjoying such an irreverent comedian, especially one known for using broadcasting as a source for some of his routines. A real joy. I miss those days.

In fact, the first person I thought of after hearing the news of Carlin’s death was my anchor. The second person I thought of was Al Sleet.


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