George Carlin: 1937-2008

I know much of the western world is deeply saddened by the news of George Carlin’s passing earlier today. I am in particular. He wasn’t just my favourite comedian. He was the reason I got into comedy in the first place. I got my hands on one of his tapes way back when I was a wee lad, say around 6 years of age. It was “FM&AM”, if I’m not mistaken. I was six, so I didn’t get a lot of the jokes, but he was making the audience laugh. And from then on, I was hooked on stand up. Loved it ever since. I’ve seen numerous specials and plenty of live shows. And thankfully, last year, I got to see Carlin down in Escanaba.

He was a brilliant comedian. Words were his instrument, and he was the Eric Clapton of comedy. And he wasn’t about quips, one liners or insults. He was about dissecting the language and the absurdities of it. He didn’t need to be profane, but because the dirty words were part of our language, they were part of his act. He could do 10 minutes on the word shit. In fact, I’m pretty sure he did.

He got his start in the late 50’s, hosting a radio show with Jack Burns. He did several TV appearences and live shows. This is an early one of his from the Smothers Brothers way back in ’68.

He was a frequent guest and guest host on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. He was the first ever host of a little program called Saturday Night Live.

This link takes you to the first part of “FM & AM.” I can’t embed the video, but I can link you to it. You can listen to the entire album, and you should, it is fantastic.

This link takes you to the first part of “Toledo Window Box.” Again… no embedding, but I can link you to it. Listen to the whole thing, it too is fantastic.

But I can give you a few of my favourite bits.

Carlin’s Revised 10 Commandments:

And I can’t do this post without posting…

The comedy world, and indeed the world itself is saddened by his unfortunate passing. He will be missed.

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