“I’m always relieved when someone is delivering a eulogy and I realize I’m listening to it.”
– G. Carlin
Geez, this has been a tough stretch, with two big-time entertainment legends passing in such close proximity of each other. In mid-June, we lost Stan Winston, which I wrote about the other day. And then, at the beginning of last week, George Carlin exited the world stage after a lifetime of making us all laugh.
“If you try to fail, and succeed, which have you done?”
Carlin was a Comedy God – no two words about it. Whipcrack smart, he got you thinking as you were doubled-over laughing. I first encountered him sometime in the late 80’s during one of his great HBO specials. For my money, Carlin was the reigning king of cable comedy, having taken part in 14 broadcasts for the network, the last of which It’s Bad for Ya’ just aired a few months back.
What I liked about Carlin was that he was the thinking man’s comedian. There was real wit at work in his wordplay and though he would saunter down the silly side of the street, he could just as easily cross over and get the audience pondering (and perhaps rethinking) their views on everything from global politics to religion (and everything in between).
“Is there another word for synonym?”
Looking out over the fraternity of comedians, it’s easy to pick out those who were most influenced by King George. Jerry Seinfeld is probably the best example. Both comedians had the knack of dissecting the mundane or self-evident truths and throwing them under the microscope. As a guy who struggled with his ‘S’ words at a young age, Carlin hit me right where I live with this observation:
“Whose cruel idea was it for the word “Lisp” to have an “S” in it?”
Guys like Carlin are essential for our species. Things can get tough, we all see the signs of how crazy this world can be, so it’s nice to hear a rare voice come along who is able to digest the insanity and then point and laugh at it. And, in the spirit of the best class clowns, prompt the rest of us to laugh along with him and just maybe, change our whole latitude.
“Ever notice that anyone going slower than you is an idiot, but anyone going faster than you is a maniac?”
Of all his routines, I think his Baseball vs. Football argument is my favorite. As with all of his comedy, his delivery is what sells the routine. In closing I offer up a little excerpt from it but I encourage anyone who has never seen the full performance to seek it out. Google Carlin Baseball v. Football and you’ll find it all over the web. A true classic (and as with everything the man said – funny ‘cause it’s true).
“…In football the object is for the quarterback, also known as the field general, to be on target with his aerial assault, riddling the defense by hitting his receivers with deadly accuracy in spite of the blitz, even if he has to use shotgun. With short bullet passes and long bombs, he marches his troops into enemy territory, balancing this aerial assault with a sustained ground attack that punches holes in the forward wall of the enemy’s defensive line.
In baseball the object is to go home! And to be safe! – I hope I’ll be safe at home!”
It’s always a shame when we lose the great ones but it’s nice to know that his words will live on and the laughter lives for eternity. His madness was infectious and this world is better for having contracted it. To George!!!