A motherfucking tribute to a goddamn comedy genius
“Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist.”~~George Carlin, 1937-2008
If you’ve spent any amount of time online today, you’ve probably already had your fill and then some of “tributes” to George Carlin, but please indulge me this one as well. It’s important that homage be paid to Mr. Carlin, as he’s a direct inspiration for both of the brains behind Deadly Stealth Frogs. While I can’t speak for my esteemed colleague, as for me I can say that Carlin was a part of my formative years. I have distinct childhood memories of my father and uncle listening to his albums Operation: Foole and Class Clown, usually while smoking copious amounts of marijuana. Back then of course I didn’t understand much of the humor, but he did use an awful lot of curse words, which made me giggle and blush in shock. Once I was a teenager and started listening to him and watching his other stand-up shows myself (sans marijuana, for I was a painfully square, straight arrow kid), I found myself immediately taken with his rapid fire delivery, and the intelligence and anger that lay behind the humor and profanity. He made me understand that humor really is the best and most dangerous method of deailng with the things that just make us feel disgusted and helpless.
Nowadays, of course, “shock comedy” is no longer shocking. Howard Stern took the sting and social relevance out of it quite effectively, now people have to go on the radio and make out with their own mothers to raise some hair (DSF takes no responsibility for whatever psychological, emotional or sexual damage viewing that link may cause). People like Dane Cook and Christopher Titus like to think they’re part of some edgy new wave of gonzo comedy, making jokes about retards and child abuse without having to actually be very funny. It’s just the fact that they’re mentioning it, you see, that’s what makes it funny, if people aren’t laughing it’s because they can’t handle the heavy subject matter. George Carlin, on the other hand, was one of the innovators of shock comedy. He was literally there during one of Lenny Bruce’s arrests, and was later arrested himself in 1972 for public obscenity, resulting in one of the greatest celebrity mug shots of all time.
Seriously, isn’t that the most awesome thing ever? I’m considering making that my desktop image. He was arrested of course for performing his ‘Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television’ routine live in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Those seven words are as follows: shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker and tits. With the exception of “piss” and very occasionally “tits” to this day they’re all still forbidden from network television. The list itself has become such an ingrained part of pop culture history that it’s even been referred to in an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants.
Perhaps what was most admirable about George Carlin was his authenticity. He was unapologetic in his opinions and he never backed down from them. He never tried to claim he was “just playing a character,” like Andrew Dice Clay or Carlos Mencia. You knew that his sense of humor was rooted in a lot of anger and frustration with the world, a world where ignorance is encouraged and mediocrity is an aspiration. The older he got, and the more we began to see strong indicators that we should be all be climbing into that handbasket any day now, the angrier he became. His seething, intelligent humor grew caustic enough to strip the pipes in a Burger King sink. He became more outspoken in his political views, refusing to vote ever since Nixon was elected to office. He was an atheist, basing a standup routine around breaking down the Ten Commandments and ending shows by telling the audience that there is no God. In the immediate post-9/11 world, when we were supposed to be all non-confrontational and feel-good, what did George do in his next HBO special? A routine on how he wished there were more natural disasters, not just because he enjoyed the schadenfreude it gave him, but because he honestly believed that disaster was what we deserved for fucking things up so badly. Some people laughed uncomfortably and wished he’d get back to talking about the right way to put a roll of toilet paper on the spindle. Others laughed and quietly nodded in agreement, wishing they had the balls to say it themselves. So thank you, George Carlin, for giving us all just a little more testicular fortitude. We need it in this world.