Remembering George Carlin
The Man Who Took the Stand
By Andy Thomas
Epoch Times New York Staff
Jun 24, 2008
Late comedian and actor George Carlin
at the "Conversation With George Carlin"
event, May 8, 2008 in Beverly Hills,
California. (Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)
When you talk about the legends of comedy, certainly Richard Pryor, Bill Cosby, and Rodney Dangerfield come to mind.
There is no doubt that George Carlin belongs with such a group. Yet in his style, George Carlin seemed like a man made from his own mold.
Raised in Morningside Heights in upper Manhattan, he was much more than a guy who would grab the mic and make people laugh.
For a man who questioned whether vegetarians could eat animal crackers, or if it was possible to have a civil war, there was much more under the humor that he longed to answer.
He inspired people to think, to question, to do a double take and recognize when we were being sheep.
He had a way of looking at humanity, life, and politics that smashed the box that we were told to think out of. He was the crazed old uncle that would tell you like it is, leaving the cushion of subtly and political-correctness to the wind.
Brute honesty would be called his angle by historians, yet he had no angle at all. Honesty was a part of who he was.
What others would think but not dare say, Carlin would say loudly with a punchline crescendo.
A memorial wreath stands near comedian
George Carlin's star on the Hollywood Walk
Of Fame on June 23 in Hollywood,
California. Mr. Carlin died Sunday at the
age of 71. (Charley Gallay/Getty Images)
He refused to recognize the boundaries others feared to cross, or if he saw them, he would drive past them as if they were a traffic light along a journey of self-reflection that he and his audience were taking.
And he was one of the few that was courageous enough to do so. Yet this wasn't done for the sake of causing controversy, like most comedians today who test or cross the line. Carlin did it for the sake of coming to an understanding of who we are as a society.
He was just as lost as all of us, but he yearned to know the answers, and spoke out loud about the questions that still lingered in the back of his mind.
And despite his profane crankiness, there was this sense that after the whole routine or interview, after all the supposed complaining stopped, and after you thought he had no more questions left to ask us all, that he would invite you into his world even more, to grab a coffee and talk shop about the world.
If there are seven words to describe George Carlin: He was a man that inspired, humorously.