I realized that I haven’t said anything here about the death of a man I consider one of my comedic heroes, George Carlin.
Partly, I think it’s because I don’t want to acknowledge that he won’t be around to call everyone on their bullshit, as I hoped he’d be for the next few years.
I don’t know that going through a list of my favorite routines of his would do much good, particularly with YouTube links to most of them already having floated around for the last week.
He had an incredibly intelligent take on almost everything, so I was stunned to learn while reading the voluminous obituaries that his formal education ended at the ninth grade.
He was incredibly gifted at finding the tiny absurdities in life, and dissecting them into ten minute monologues that had you falling off your couch because you were laughing so hard.
He often stayed away from political humor because of how dated it becomes, but when he did choose to address politics, it would stay relevant for years after (check out the beginning of Carlin’s Jammin’ In New York to see a relatively rare example).
But Carlin always had a unique take on everything, and as modern life gets more complicated and sillier, I’ll miss his fantastic ability to dissect the madness.
Carlin was less than a year younger than my father, and their paths briefly crossed when the senior partner in dad’s firm argued the FCC v. Pacifica Foundation case before the Supreme Court (and sadly, lost).
I think that’s another reason it’s hard for me to picture Carlin gone: Although Carlin fought health-destroying addictions for years and had three heart attacks, I never saw him as an old man because hell, he was younger than my dad.
He was also still constantly performing. I got my last email from Ticketmaster advertising his latest show only a couple months ago, and he had plans to tour this fall. He can’t be gone, he’s got gigs, and he lived to perform.
It’s a damn shame his heart gave out on him well before he or we were ready for it to, but the fact that hundreds of hours of video of his comedy exist brings some solace to those of us who will miss him and his perspective terribly.
So I’ll leave you with his own thoughts on death: The usual slaughtering of sacred cows, the notations of the way we address the things we fear, and the weird things we say to try to comfort other people when bad shit happens.