By now, you’ve heard that George Carlin is dead. I was saddened at the news, of course, because Mr. Carlin was a legend of comedy. He was a giant in a field of imitators and his legacy is the thousands of standups who try and fail every year to be the next big thing, knowing all the time that ‘smart’ comedy is an asset. At least they’re trying. But amidst the sadness, let this be known:
George Carlin sucked. I mean, something awful.
I have to qualify my last statement with “…for the last ten years”. You see, my dear readers, Mr. Carlin did NOT age gracefully. In fact, I would have been completely surprised if he did. He was opinionated, sometimes obnoxiously so, and completely full of life, so a slow decline into doddering cuddliness was not in the cards for him. No, he railed at what he saw as the “failed idealism” of his world. He was alternately amused, angry and sad by the freakshow that was modern culture. None of it jibed in his mind and he was perfectly happy to point out our own failures as a race. But I couldn’t help but notice that he never quite adjusted with the times, ending his best observations around 1995. Lately, in his last 3 TV specials, he’s come across less like a counter-culturalist than a crotchety old man who’s just plain angry. My vision of him is Dana Carvey doing his 100 year old man as a baby impression.
“Wipe my ass! Put on cartoons!”
Yeah, George sucked pretty bad for the last ten years. But I have to give it up for his first 60. He was incredibly brilliant. There’s a reason that he was chosen to host the very first episode of Saturday Night Live, because he represented, in his prime, everything the show stood for. Standing up to authority, wherever you saw it, and laughing at all that is silly and stupid and dumb in life. He opened the show with my favorite sketch of his; Baseball Vs. Football. It’s a classic piece of American comedy contrasting the extremely different natures of the two sports. Baseball, he says, is concerned with all things hippie like (going ‘home’, every park is different and unique, they wear caps!). Football, representing authoritarian strength, is war-like in nature and concerned with domination only. Only Carlin could have equated those things and tied them into the general zeitgeist.
We’ll miss him, but we already have for the last 10 years.
As said by his character, Al Sleet – the Hippie Dippy Weatherman-
“Tonight’s forecast…Dark. With continued darkness throughout the night, gradually turning to partly light in the morning.”