Monday, June 23, 2008

Comic pioneer George Carlin dies at 71

Comic pioneer George Carlin dies at 71
Updated Monday, June 23rd 2008, 2:30 AM
George Carlin, an extraordinary standup comedian whose dark social satire won him multigenerational popularity and a starring role in the most famous broadcast obscenity case of modern times, died Sunday of heart failure in Los Angeles. He was 71.

The Manhattan-born comedian, who always said his often-cynical satire simply reflected his real-life disdain for mankind's greed, stupidity and inconsideration, had a history of heart problems. He also did a stint in rehab in 2003 for drug dependency.

The TV network Comedy Central in 2004 named him the second best standup comedian of all time, behind Richard Pryor.

Late last week the Kennedy Center announced he would receive its annual Mark Twain prize for American humor this November.

Carlin became one of the most popular standup comedians in America in the 1960s and early 1970s through programs like "The Ed Sullivan Show."

He seemed ambivalent about that success, though, and gradually shifted much of his act to a counterculture posture reminiscent of the late Lenny Bruce. Carlin admired Bruce and was in the building when Bruce was arrested for obscenity.

Carlin was one of the first comedians to dress "naturally" for a standup routine, in jeans and a beard, and his most famous routine became "Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television."

The comic point of the bit was that everyone says the words, but that we hypocritically pretend to find them offensive in the media. He was arrested for performing that routine in Milwaukee in 1972. A year later the routine was broadcast by radio station WBAI in New York, which was sanctioned by the FCC for broadcasting obscene language during daytime hours.

The case eventually worked its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where the sanction was upheld in a 5-4 vote that has continued to guide broadcast obscenity and indecency policy through today.

Carlin said that ruling simply reinforced the original point of the routine - and his own frustration with America. He stopped voting after George McGovern was defeated by Richard Nixon in 1972, he said, calling elections "the illusion of choice."

The "Seven Dirty Words" case did reinforce his stature as a counterculture hero, though, and he was the first host of a new TV comedy show called "Saturday Night Live" in October 1975.

A year later he unexpectedly quit live performing. He returned five years later with the acclaimed album "A Place for My Stuff" and began a series of HBO specials he would continue until early this year. He also performed regularly in Las Vegas.

He took a number of TV and movie roles over the years, introducing himself to a new generation of fans with the "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" series and an even newer generation with children's shows like "Thomas the Tank Engine."

He did voiceovers in films that included "Cars" and in 1993 he got his own sitcom on Fox, "The George Carlin Show." He played George O'Grady, a New York cab driver, and the show ran 27 episodes.

Carlin also wrote several best-selling books, including "Brain Droppings." Columnist Mike Barnicle, a big fan, was fired from the Boston Globe after borrowing too liberally from a Carlin essay there.

He was a frequent guest with radio host Don Imus, one of many performers who hailed Carlin as a deity of modern comedy.

Carlin grew up on W. 121st St., which he would later joke that he and his friends "called 'White Harlem' because it sounded tougher than 'Morningside Heights.' "

He attended Cardinal Hayes High, dropping out at 14. He was in the Air Force before he tried his hand at show biz.

While growing up he developed a lifelong love of New York street-corner rhythm and blues and remained a lifelong fan even after he moved to the West Coast.

Off-stage, he was married for 26 years to the former Brenda Hosbrook, until she died in 1997. They had one daughter, Kelly.

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fat_wallet Jun 23, 2008 6:00:32 PM Report Offensive Post

blkpwr Jun 23, 2008 6:15:20 PM Report Offensive Post "Cloud nine gets all the publicity, but cloud eight actually is cheaper, less crowded, and has a better view" > (George Carlin)> (see above)

drivertoni Jun 23, 2008 6:29:23 PM Report Offensive Post Good evening burph, I can see from the following sentence that Harvard didn't care whether you knew how to spell or not: "My parents thought not educated taught me the difference between rght and wrong, the power of Fatih and the value of an education." You may want to proof read your writing before submitting it, though not thought, faith not fatih and you left the i out of right. I never said that I hated the UNITED STATES of AMERICA, I simply stated that our country is not always right and still has a lot of learning to do, nothing and no one is perfect. As far as hating god, how can I possibly hate someone I have neither seen nor met. Me, self-loathing, NEVER, I BELIEVE IN MYSELF and LOVE the PERSON THAT I AM. I have also taught my children to do the same. It's really ashame that you and so many other AMERICANS can't see that slowly but surely our freedoms are being taken away. Little by little, but it is happening and not many of us see it. Have a nice life burph, good night an

blkpwr Jun 23, 2008 6:36:15 PM Report Offensive Post Because SATIRE often combines ANGER and HUMOUR it can be profoundly DISTURBING - because it is essentially IRONIC or sarcastic, & it is often MISUNDERSTOOD. >>> if it affects somebody personally, they tend to be more SENSITIVE."

blkpwr Jun 23, 2008 6:38:20 PM Report Offensive Post "What was the best thing before sliced bread?" > (George Carlin)

blkpwr Jun 23, 2008 6:43:30 PM Report Offensive Post “When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops?” . .This title offends all three major religions, and even vegetarians!" > (George Carlin)

blkpwr Jun 23, 2008 7:03:34 PM Report Offensive Post George... my brother from another mother.........sublime, and ridiculous, you blazed a trail, you followed no man’s path » like a modern-day Davy Crockett. . .loaded for bear > > (blkpwr)

heinekenskywalker Jun 23, 2008 7:27:28 PM Report Offensive Post "show me a tropical friut in the middle of winter & i'll show you a c**ksucker from guatemala"...LOL

WhiteKingRex Jun 23, 2008 7:41:14 PM Report Offensive Post To me George Carlin was not only the best comedian since the 1960s began, but also as close to a hero of mine as I've ever had! I took my future wife to a George Carlin concert on our first date in 1983 and she said it was the funniest experience of her life and was instantly hooked. My wife and I were getting ready for work this morning when we heard ther very sad truth of his sudden death. we were both overwhelmed and teary eyed. Rest in peace George;in the eyes of your devoted fans the world lost an irreplaceable talent and the world will be a much less humorous place. In the words of the super talented Jackie Gleason: "George you're the greatest'!!!!!!

lump516 Jun 23, 2008 8:18:56 PM Report Offensive Post At his best, Carlin was paralyzingly funny--I remember a thoroughly-political routine he did on the ED SULLIVAN SHOW (poking--hard--at the Vietnam War) back when he was a "square" that can still reduce me to breathless agony, just as it did that very white and middle-class audience. His "seven words" routine used a string of obscenities to wander off into odd and whimsical places that no other comedian could get by just swearing. "Baseball vs. Football," a routine that even grandfathers probably liked, was actually a sly dig at driven, angry people (just RELAX was the real message). But there was also the smug, nasty side. People who still voted, believed in God, etc., were fools and brainless sheep. Such a view of the world can sometimes produce brilliant and acid satire. And sometime it just produces grumpy rants about how the world is going the way that YOU want it to. In his later years, Carlin was basically just an angry old man--sometimes witty, but a lot of the time jus

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