Monday, June 23, 2008

GEORGE CARLIN WAS A COMEDIAN WHO MEANT SOMETHING. Naturally, he was extremely funny. He was also extremely witty (there's a difference). But on top of all that, he was a comedian who actually stood for something. Remember when that wasn't so unusual? But what stand up comedian today could you point to and say "There's someone who stood for something other than laughs". Certainly not George Carlin today who has died leaving the world a much less funny and much less moral and thoughtful place than it was with him in it.
Carlin was often compared with Lenny Bruce and there's something to be said for that. Both men were concerned with that old concept of free speech. Remember when free speech was a concept the U.S. was concerned about as well? Both comedians would hold up a mirror to us all and force us to look. Not an easy thing to do and not always very popular. But it was something that needed to be done. And STILL needs to be done. And all the while he made it funny and not preachy. Those seven dirty words that you couldn't say on television couldn't hurt anybody and he was here to prove it. They're just words. It's actions that can hurt. Slamming the lid down on somebody who is trying to exercise freedom of speech is extremely hurtful and Carlin wasn't too fond of that. That's why he spent practically his entire professional career making progress (and he did make some concrete progress) on that front. He took his case all the way to the Supreme Court. This funnyman was serious about that shit! And it's frankly a shame that the vast majority of Americans couldn't care less about such fundamental basic freedoms upon which this country was founded in the first place and for which so many died to protect and ensure. It's all pretty much been forgotten along the way; and forfeiting those rights cheapens the memory of those dead as well as the integrity of this country. And that's why it's such a huge loss to find George Carlin not fighting for us anymore.
I actually had the great pleasure of meeting the man once about ten years ago. He was doing a book signing for his hardcover book "BRAIN DROPPINGS" and I can go to my grave boasting that I made George Carlin laugh. A genuine laugh; not one of those polite chuckles with which celebrities humour the public. Carlin had had to cancel his original book signing date due to the death of his wife but, being the kinda guy he was, he rescheduled it a little later for this measly little bookstore in a backwater of South Jersey. As I shook his hand, I look at him in mock horror and gasped "What Are You Doing in New Jersey?!?" (the title for one of his best comedy albums). The man laughed and put his other hand on top of the one he was already shaking. I then apologized saying "I guess you've heard that at least 20 times today." but he said, "No, actually you're the first!" The bookstore handlers had made a big show of telling us all to hustle through, not to ask for individual inscription or try to engage him in conversation. However, George Carlin being George Carlin, it was HE who genuinely engaged all of us in little conversations; looking each and every person in the eye and not sending us through like cattle in a pen. The guy certainly never "went Hollywood"; he was always down to earth and approachable. I find it to be an immense personal loss as well as this country's and the world's. George Carlin stood for something. Isn't it about time we all stood for something too?

9 comments:

Cheekies said...

Well said and I too had a copy of Brain Dropping signed that was sold by a certain someone at a yard sale for fifty cents. I still have the memories.

Weaverman said...

My friend Jerry in NY mailed me about Carlin this morning. I confess complete ignorance of the man. But everything Jerry said and everything you have said leads me to the conclusion that this was a very special man who touched a lot of lives and whose own live made a difference.

Cerpts said...

Cheekies,

You're not serious! Geez, no wonder you left. Yeah, you wuz right behind or right in front of me in the same booksigning line.

Weaverman,

And I thought they wuz educated in the British Isles!!! But seriously, even though you weren't familiar with George Carlin (which might just be rectified now I know that) what you said about Carlin is exactly right. It looks like the impression you got from your friend Jerry and yours truly came through loud and clear. Carlin routinely shows up on lists of "most important and influencial stand-up comic" at the top or only second behind Richard Pryor. Hugely important guy.

Cheekies said...

You didn't know she sold my autographed copy? Yep years ago when we moved into the condo.

Cerpts said...

What a maroon! No, i never heard that before that I remember. This is what comes with associating with other humans.

Weaverman said...

Aw, Cheekies, I really feel for you, the significant mistake in my past took my signed Clint Eastwood but I did a house invasion while she was at work and stole back my roaring Godzilla doll and our bed.

Cerpts said...

"My significant mistake"! What a perfect name for it. Remind me to use that next time I have to refer to "she who shall not be named".

Cheekies said...

Wha? How do you steal an entire bed? But any nice one.

Weaverman said...

As I was paying for the bed I decided it was mine so I hired a man and a van and waited at the corner until she left for work. Went in dismantled the bed, trashed the presents I'd given her,grabbed godzilla and went off to wait for the phonecall and abuse...hey, how did we get here from Carlin?