George Carlin



George Dennis Carlin (born May 12, 1937) is a Grammy-winning American stand-up comedian, actor, and author.

Carlin is especially noted for his irreverent attitude and his observations on language, psychology, and religion along with many taboo subjects. He is considered by many to be a successor to the late Lenny Bruce and was described by Comedy Central as the second greatest stand-up comedian of all time.

Born in New York City, George Carlin grew up on West 121st Street, in a neighborhood of Manhattan which he later said he and his friends called "White Harlem", because that sounded a lot tougher than its real name, "Morningside Heights". He was raised by his mother, who left his father when he was two years old. At age 14, Carlin dropped out of high school and joined the United States Air Force, training as a radar technician. He was stationed at Barksdale AFB in Bossier City, Louisiana. During this time he began working as a disc jockey on KJOE, a radio station based in the nearby city of Shreveport. He did not complete his Air Force enlistment. Labelled an "unproductive airman" by his superiors, Carlin was discharged on July 29, 1957.

At the age of 18, he and Jack Burns, a new announcer at the station, assembled a comedy routine and began booking nightclubs. Soon the act broke up, but Carlin continued to work as a stand-up comic.

In the 1960s, Carlin began appearing on television variety shows, notably Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In. His most famous skits were:

* The Indian Sergeant ("You wit' the beads... get outta line")

* Stupid disc jockeys ("Wonderful WINO...") — "The Beatles' latest record, when played backwards at slow speed, says 'Dummy! You're playing it backwards at slow speed!'"

* Al Sleet, the "hippie-dippie weatherman" — "Tonight's forecast: Dark. Continued dark tonight, turning to partly light in the morning."

* Jon Carson — the "world never known, and never to be known"

Variations on the first three of these routines can be found on Carlin's 1967 debut album Take Offs and Put Ons, recorded live the previous year at The Roostertail in Detroit, Michigan.

In 1961, Carlin married Brenda Hosbrook (born June 12, 1939, died May 11, 1997), whom he had met while touring the previous year, in her parent's living room in Dayton, Ohio. The couple had a daughter, Kelly, in 1963. In 1971, George and Brenda renewed their wedding vows in Las Vegas, Nevada.

During this period, Carlin became more popular. He became a frequent performer and guest host on The Tonight Show during the Johnny Carson era, becoming one of Carson's most frequent substitutes during the host's three-decade reign. Carlin was also cast on Away We Go, a 1967 comedy show.

Eventually, Carlin changed his routines, and his appearance. He lost some TV bookings by dressing strangely, sporting a beard and earrings, but regained his popularity as the public caught on to his sense of style.

In this period he also perfected what is perhaps his best-known routine, "Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television", recorded on Class Clown, a routine which offended some. In 1973, a man complained to the FCC that his son had heard a later, similar routine, "Filthy Words", from Occupation: Foole, broadcast one afternoon over WBAI, a Pacifica Foundation FM radio station in New York City. Pacifica received a citation from the FCC, which sought to fine Pacifica for allegedly violating FCC regulations which prohibited broadcasting "obscene" material. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the FCC action, by a vote of 5 to 4, ruling that the routine was "indecent but not obscene", and the FCC had authority to prohibit such broadcasts during hours when children were likely to be among the audience. F.C.C. v. Pacifica Foundation, 438 U.S. 726 (1978).

The controversy only increased Carlin's fame (or notoriety). Carlin eventually expanded the dirty-words theme with a seemingly interminable end to a performance (ending with his voice fading out in one HBO version, and accompanying the credits in the Carlin at Carnegie special for the 1982-83 season), and a set of 49 web pages organized by subject and embracing his "Incomplete List Of Impolite Words". Ironically, the court documents contain a complete transcript of the skit, perhaps validating what Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. said: "You cannot define obscenity without being obscene."

Carlin was arrested in 1972 at Milwaukee, Wisconsin's Summerfest and charged with violating obscenity laws.

Carlin was the first-ever host of NBC's Saturday Night Live, debuting on October 11, 1975. (He also hosted SNL on November 10, 1984.) The following season, 1976-77, Carlin also appeared regularly on CBS Television's Tony Orlando & Dawn variety series.

In the 1970s, Carlin became known for unpredictable performances. He would walk off if no one laughed, verbally insult the audience, or simply not appear.

Carlin unexpectedly stopped performing regularly in 1976, when his career appeared to be at its height. For the next five years, he rarely appeared to perform stand-up, although it was at this time he began doing specials for HBO as part of its "On Location" series. His first two HBO specials aired in 1977 and 1978. It was later revealed that Carlin had suffered the first of his three heart attacks during this layoff period.

In 1981, Carlin returned to the stage, releasing A Place For My Stuff, considered by many to be his best album since Class Clown, and making a triumphant return to HBO (and to his hometown) with the Carlin at Carnegie special videotaped at Carnegie Hall and airing during the 1982-83 season. Carlin continued doing HBO specials every year or every other year over the following decade and a half, and became as identified with the cable network's comedy offerings as the performer whose specials practically inaugurated the network, Robert Klein. All of Carlin's albums from this time forward are the HBO specials.

By 1989, Carlin had become popular with a new generation of teens when he was cast as Rufus the mentor of the titular characters in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. In 1991, he provided the narrative voice for the American version of the children's show Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends, a role he continued until 1998.

Carlin began a weekly sitcom, The George Carlin Show, cast as "George", a cab driver, for the Fox Network in 1993. He quickly included a variation of the "Seven Words" in the plot. The show lasted 27 episodes before being cancelled in December, 1995.

In 1997, Brenda Carlin died of liver cancer. Also in 1997, his second book, entitled Brain Droppings, was released, which had sold over 750,000 copies as of 2001.

In 1999, Carlin returned with an appearance in Kevin Smith's film Dogma, unforgettably as a greedy Roman Catholic cardinal. He worked with Smith again with a cameo appearance in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, and in an unusual change, Carlin portrayed a prominent, serious role in Jersey Girl as the blue collar dad of Ben Affleck's character.

In 2001, Carlin was given a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 15th Annual American Comedy Awards. In 2004, George Carlin was ranked #2 on Comedy Central's 100 greatest standups of all time list, just behind Richard Pryor.

In December 2003, California U.S. Representative Doug Ose introduced a bill (H.R. 3687) to outlaw the broadcast of Carlin's seven "dirty words", including "compound use (including hyphenated compounds) of such words and phrases with each other or with other words or phrases, and other grammatical forms of such words and phrases (including verb, adjective, gerund, participle, and infinitive forms)". (The bill omits "tits", but includes "ass" and "asshole", which were not part of Carlin's original routine.)

In December 2004, Carlin announced that he would be voluntarily entering a drug rehabilitation facility to receive treatment for his dependency on alcohol and painkillers.

For years, Carlin performed regularly as a headliner in Las Vegas, but in the spring of 2006 decided to end his performing there. He has currently begun a new tour through the first half of 2006, and had a new HBO Special on November 5th, 2005 entitled Life is Worth Losing, which was shown live from the Beacon Theatre in New York City. Topics covered included suicide, natural disasters (and the impulse to see them escalate in severity), cannibalism, genocide, human sacrifice, threats to civil liberties in America, and how an argument can be made that humans are inferior to animals. The tour's original title of "I Kinda Like it When a Lotta People Die" was changed because of Hurricane Katrina's tremendous death toll that occurred 2 months before the tour started.

On February 1, 2006, Carlin mentioned to the crowd, during his Life is Worth Losing set at the Tachi Palace Casino in Lemoore, California, that he had been discharged from the hospital only six weeks previous for "heart failure" and "pneumonia", citing the appearance as his "first show back".

Carlin provided the voice of Fillmore, a character in the Pixar animated feature Cars, which opened in theatres on June 9, 2006. The character Fillmore is a VW Microbus, whose front license plate reads "51237" -- Carlin's birthday -- and is also the zip code in a town in Iowa named George.

As a staunch atheist, Carlin has often denounced the idea of a god in interviews and performances, most notably with his "Invisible Man in the Sky" and "There is no God" routines. In mockery he invented the parody religion Frisbeetarianism for a newspaper contest. He defined it as the belief that when one dies "his soul gets flung onto a roof, and just stays there", and cannot be retrieved.

Carlin has also said he might worship the Sun (because he can actually see it) but prays to Joe Pesci because "he's a good actor", "looks like a guy who can get things done!", and praying to him has approximately the same success rate - 50% - as praying to God.

Carlin openly communicates in his shows and in his interviews that his purpose for existence is entertainment, that he is "here for the show". He acknowledges that this is a very selfish thing, especially since he includes large human catastrophes as entertainment.

In a late 1990s interview with Art Bell, he remarked about his view of human life: "I think we're already circling the drain as a species, and I'd love to see the circles get a little faster and a little shorter."

In the same interview, he recounts his experience of a California earthquake in the early 1970s as: "...an amusement park ride. Really, I mean it's such a wonderful thing to realize that you have absolutely no control... and to see the dresser move across the bedroom floor unassisted... is just exciting." Later he summarizes: "I really think there's great human drama in destruction and nature unleashed and I don't get enough of it."

A 1990s Carlin bit focusing on airport security leads up to the statement: "Take a fucking chance! Don't people know a good show when they see it!?"

Carlin has always included politics as part of his material (along with the wordplay and sex jokes), but he has gained increasing respect over the past decade and a half as a perceptive social critic, in both his HBO specials and the book compilations of his material. His HBO viewers got an especially sharp taste of this in his take on the Ronald Reagan administration during the 1988 special What Am I Doing In New Jersey? broadcast live from the Park Theatre in Union City, New Jersey.

* "They're superstitious, they have these beliefs, these primitive, you know, people believe in a... I mean they're just really kind of credulous, and gullible. People believe in, for instance, hell and angels, okay, these are very primitive, very, very backward to me, backward sounding beliefs, these are child-like, and that's the key, because they get you when you're a kid, they get you when you're little, and they tell you there's a God, and if you can make people believe, I believe this, if you can make someone believe that there's an invisible man, living in the sky, who's watching everything you do, and keeping count of everything you do, which is good and which is bad, then you can make that person believe anything after that, you can add anything you want, the 4th of July shit just rolls right in, land of the free, home of the brave, the press is fair and impartial, justice is blind, all men are created equal, your vote is important, the United States government is on your side, the army is here to keep the peace, the police are on your side...Oh, and freedom of choice, this is the big one, the illusion of choice, we're led to feel free by the exercise of meaningless choices. There are, for instance, important things -- not too many choices, unimportant things-ice cream flavors, what do you want, we've got 31, the flavor of the week, the flavor of the month, but political parties-we're down to two, jeez. Sources of information, media companies down to five, banks, insurance companies, pharmaceuticals, chemical companies, oil companies-used to be seven, down to three, pretty soon it's gonna be two. But if you’re lookin' for a bagel or a fuckin' donut, hey, what do you want-pineapple supreme, hazelnut; we've got everything you want. Cereals, I counted, personally in the store counted 192 different cereal choices, 192. 140 different cat foods, I counted, and that includes a tartar-control cat food for senior citizen cats, okay?"

- George Carlin, appearance on Dennis Miller Live; [response to why Americans are so easily influenced by advertising]

* "I'm a modern man, a man for the millennium, digital and smoke-free, a diversified multi-cultural post-modern deconstructionist, politically, anatomically, and ecologically incorrect. I've been uplinked and downloaded, I've been inputted and outsourced, I know the upside of downsizing, I know the downside of upgrading. I'm a high-tech lowlife, a cutting edge state-of-the-art bi-coastal multitasker, and I can give you a gigabyte in a nanosecond. I'm new wave, but I'm old school, and my inner child is outward bound. I'm a hot-wired, heat-seeking, warm-hearted cool customer, voice-activated and biodegradable. I interface with my database, and my database is in cyberspace, so I'm interactive, I'm hyperactive, and from time to time, I'm radioactive. Behind the 8-ball, ahead of the curve, riding the wave, dodging the bullet, pushing the envelope. I'm on point, on task, on message, and off drugs. I got no need for coke and speed. I have no urge to binge and purge. I'm in the moment, on the edge, over the top, but under the radar. A high-concept, low-profile, medium-range ballistics missionary. A street-wise smart bomb, a top-gun bottom-feeder. I wear power ties, I tell power lies, I take power naps, I run victory laps. I'm a totally ongoing bigfoot slamdunk rainmaker with a proactive outreach. A raging workaholic, a working rageaholic, out of rehab and in denial. I got a personal trainer, a personal shopper, a personal assistant, and a personal agenda. You can't shut me up, you can't dumb me down, 'cause I'm tireless, and I'm wireless. I'm an alphamale on beta blockers. I'm a non-believer and an overachiever, laid back, but fashion forward, up front, down home, low rent, high maintenance; super size, long lasting, high definition, fast acting, oven ready, and built to last. I'm a hands-on, footloose, kneejerk headcase, prematurely post-traumatic, and I have a love child who sends me hate mail. But I'm feeling, I'm caring, I'm healing, I'm sharing, a supportive, bonding, nurturing, primary caregiver. My output is down, but my income is up. I take a short position on the long bond, and my revenue stream has its own cash flow. I read junk mail, I eat junk food, I buy junk bonds, I watch trash sports. I'm gender specific, capital intensive, user friendly, and lactose intolerant. I like rough sex, I like tough love, I use the F-word in my e-mails, and the software on my hard drive is hardcore, no soft porn. I bought a microwave at a minimall, I bought a minivan at a megastore, I eat fast food in the slow lane. I'm tollfree, bite size, ready to wear, and I come in all sizes. A fully equipped, factory authorized, hospital tested, clinically proven, scientifically formulated medical miracle. I've been prewashed, precooked, preheated, prescreened, preapproved, prepackeged, postdated, freeze dried, double wrapped, vacuum packed, and I have an unlimited broadband capacity. I'm a rude dude, but I'm the real deal, lean and mean, cocked, locked, and ready to rock; rough, tough, and hard to bluff. I take it slow, I go with the flow, I ride with the tide, I got glide in my stride. Drivin' and movin', sailin' and spinnin', jivin' and groovin', wailin' and winnin'. I don't snooze, so I don't lose. I keep the pedal to the metal and the rubber on the road. I party hardy, and lunch time is crunch time. I'm hangin' in, there ain't no doubt, and I'm hangin' tough, over and out."

- George Carlin: Life is Worth Losing (2005) and When Will Jesus Bring the Porkchops

* "I've begun worshipping the sun for a number of reasons. First of all, unlike some other gods I could mention, I can see the sun. It's there for me every day. And the things it brings me are quite apparent all the time: heat, light, food, a lovely day. There's no mystery, no one asks for money, I don't have to dress up, and there's no boring pageantry. And interestingly enough, I have found that the prayers I offer to the sun and the prayers I formerly offered to "God" are all answered at about the same 50-percent rate."

* Carlin was present at Lenny Bruce's arrest for obscenity. According to legend the police began attempting to detain members of the audience for questioning, and asked Carlin for his identification. Telling the police he did not believe in government issued IDs he was arrested and rode to jail with Bruce in the same vehicle.

* Many emailed lists of humorous observations on certain topics are often attributed to Carlin. Many express sentiments and ideas that are the opposite of the sort of ideas and themes present in Carlin's work. For instance, one, commonly called "I Guess I'm A Bad American", seems to be the work of the kind of conservative that Carlin often takes aim at in his art. He has made numerous announcements on his website concerning these forwarded articles, and denies having any connection to any of them (as well as disparaging most of them on a variety of grounds). Carlin stated that unless the material has appeared in some form in his books, albums, HBO specials, or written on his website, it is miscredited to him.

* During CKY3, a stunt and comedy video orchestrated by skater Bam Margera, a segment of George Carlin's routine appears in which he states that 'you never see somebody taking a shit while running at full speed', a fact which Chris Raab, a member of the 'CKY crew' then proceeds to remedy.

* Appeared in the Simpsons episode "D'oh-in In the Wind" as a former hippie. In a previous episode, Krusty the Clown is told he's being sued by Carlin for plagiarizing Carlin's Seven Words You Can't Say on TV routine.

* He is good friends with actor Joe Pesci whom he mentioned in his bit "There Is No God", found in the 1999 album You Are All Diseased.

* Admirer of the late Lenny Bruce. In contemporary comedy, some of his favorites include Steven Wright, Lewis Black, Mitch Hedberg, Dave Chappelle, Jerry Seinfeld, Jon Stewart and Bill Maher.

* In the Pixar movie Cars, George's character (Fillmore) has a license plate of 51237, presumably a reference to George Carlin's birthdate of May 12, 1937.

* He has said that complaining is a motif for him in his work. Over the last 25 years, a substantial portion of his stand-up material has been deeply antagonistic towards things that anger him. Some of his targets include corporate criminals, golf, the House of Blues, baby boomers, environmentalists, macho men, religion, advertising, obesity, fast-food, stupidity, consumerism, "Guys Named Todd", Republicans, deadbeat parents, airport security and euphemistic language.

* He appeared in a cameo role in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back as an elderly hitchhiker who performs fellatio on an overweight truck driver in exchange for a ride.

* Doesn't vote. Said he last voted for McGovern.Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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