I don’t remember the first time I heard a George Carlin routine. I must have been fairly young because I remember my mother being upset with my Dad for exposing me to it. I felt I had found a kindred spirit coming through the TV. Here was someone who loved words and loved manipulating, just playing with them. I knew I couldn’t get an album with that many curse words into the house(though I did succeed later with Robin Williams first album) so I listened or watched whatever I could come across at other people’s houses. I dog sat for someone once and they had a huge Carlin collection and I spent the entire week listening to them all in their house with their huge baby dog.
One of the other things I loved about George besides the word play was the way he spoke the truth. About everything. I miss that. I don’t feel like their is a comic voice out there right now that is doing what he did. Maybe Jon Stewart, but he is far too polite. George Carlin passed away in June 2008 shortly after learning that he was a recipient of the Mark Twain Prize. I think he was this generation’s Mark Twain.
So I picked up his autobiography/biography Last Words last week, just to see what else the man had to say.
It is a fascinating story in which George holds nothing back. I also found a lot of encouragement as an artist. A lot of common experience in the journey.
Such as his recollection of an early performance: “Having thirty people(okay, six-year olds, but they had pulses) sit without fidgeting and watch something you were doing-which they couldn’t do-was intensely satisfying. Having them applaud at the end, even though many had difficulty bringing their hands together with any accuracy, produced an odd sense of power. It was an intoxicant. As would be the case with many intoxicants, I immediately wanted more.”-p. 31, Last Words-George Carlin.
I can say I felt the same way the first and every time the teacher asked me to read something I had written for the class or read something for a school assembly.
He also talks about how hard it is to shake off your parents expectations of who you are supposed to be. That is there in the back of your mind when you are on the stage or writing things down. You can see it visually in his career. In the early days he has short hair and a suit that is him trying on some level to please his mother. Then later in the late 60’s early 70’s you see the bearded Carlin.
As he put it, “I’m going to be the person on the outside that I’ve been on the inside my whole life.”-p. 152, Last Words-George Carlin.
I hope I get there some day. I really do. Thanks for showing the way.