Monday, June 23, 2008

"Results like these do not belong on the resume of a Supreme Being."

And now George Carlin is gone? Damn. This is a rough month for us all.

He was not a movie star, but as someone who relishes star quality wherever she finds it, the Siren has always been awed by Carlin, one of the two greatest standup comedians of all time (the other, of course, being Richard Pryor). His delivery alone was a marvel--check out the shift in stance and expression with which he emphasizes "But he loves you," taking the joke from amusing to paralyzingly funny. Like Voltaire, Bunuel and Groucho Marx, Carlin combined irreverence and a dark outlook with a still, small hope that there was somebody out there intelligent enough to get it. Too many didn't and still don't, alas, but the Siren is grateful that for so many years, Carlin still thought it was worth trying.

8 comments:

Gerard Jones said...

Thank you, Siren. I miss Carlin a lot. He was one of those performers who was still doing new and important work until very near the end. Not one of those you have to look back into the mists of the pasts to appreciate. His biggest impact on me came when I was quite young--I was a big Tonight Show watcher when I was 13 or so, back around 1970, and he really made me look at the world differently in a way that no one other comic did--but I was happy to see you include one of his later routines in your tribute. It's a great one.

Campaspe said...

He most definitely got crankier in later years, like most of us. Unlike most of us, though, he stayed funny.

Juanita's Journal said...

It was nice to read your comment on George Carlin. I happened to catch one of his stand up routines on an HBO special about two years ago. He had commented on how everyone - blue-collar, white-collar and the unemployed - will end up getting screwed by the politicians and the corporations in the end. And you know? His words are proving to be prophetic.

I'll miss him.

Karen said...

Gosh, this one hit hard. I was a little girl when my family used to watch Carlin on the Ed Sullivan Show--the Hippy Dippy Weatherman. When I was entering high school, he was coming out with "Class Clown," which seemed, in many ways, to be in harmony with my own coming of age. And when I was serving drinks to ballplayers at the Grand Hyatt, he was comparing baseball to football. And now that I'm cranky and curmudgeonly, he was still my voice in many ways.

I felt like I grew up with him, and now he's gone. I didn't necessarily keep in touch, but it was always good knowing he was out there.

May Joe Pesci and the Sun bless you, George.

Vanwall said...

There will never be another like George Carlin - he was a real game-changer. Possibly the most intelligent comedian ever - Gerard, and you, Campaspe are right - all the way to the end, AND funny, which is gonna be a tough act to follow, and maybe not ever, considering the level of most of the big names that attempt humor these days. Juanita, Carlin was walking down that same road all his life, it seems like, and he never wavered or took the quick buck on the main chance.

Tyrone said...

Exactly! It's that turn on "but he *loves* you" that makes the bit a true masterpiece.

Frank Conniff said...

Carlin's appearances in movies and on sitcoms were few and far between, but that didn't matter because he devoted his life to the art of stand up comedy. And when you watched him perform you had no doubt that stand up comedy is indeed an art form and that you were watching one of its greatest practitioners -- a true artist and a great entertainer. Carlin never looked at stand up comedy as a springboard to something else. He looked at stand up comedy as a springboard to being a better stand up comedian, and the whole point of doing it was to grow and develop and deepen his comedy. And that he did, right up until the end. He didn't look at laughter as something to take from an audience; he looked at laughter as a gift to give to an audience, a gift that came from his pure individuality. He was only the greatest.

Dano said...

A lot of my outlook is because of Carlin. He had a way of twisting things just so to make them real.

Best,

D