In Memoriam, George Carlin

George Carlin died last night. The man was a true genius, and in my view, one of the greatest comedians of all time. Carlin wasn’t just a comedian though, he was one of our greatest commentators. I know that when I was a kid, listening to Carlin was my first real introduction to radical politics of Old timey Strikeany kind. He brought into relief my stewing opposition to religion. He pointed out how it was just an arbitrary bunch of nonsense. At the time I was pretty moderate on most issues. But religion was just beyond the pale. A little white man magically saving us? Huh? It made no sense!

My rebellion against god pretty much put me on the path to radicalism. It was the domino that started the chain, smacking down one system of hierarchy after another. Carlin had a sardonic air that kept you honest and kept you questioning. Its not that he was much of an anarchist. More of a nihilist sometimes. But despite his dark attitude Carlin had a deep love for his fellow human. He always thought himself not a cynic but a skeptic. He didn’t hate people, just the fucking idiots who tried to bully and control others. Carlin’s bits weren’t about revolution, but he always attacked arbitrary authority and the silly ways it manifested. Voting, religion, corporations, marketing etc. Calling bullshit kept him going.

He had a rare way of seeing the world. He could observe something and notice all the little bits that it funny. Finding the sexual innuendos of wartime rhetoric, discussing the minutiae of suicide and its proper procedure, it was his forte.

Eventually I had listened to every one of his specials at least 5-30 times. Carlin made me the person I am today. He gave countless kids caustic wit and sarcastic delivery. He had a cadence that just worked. It was like an internal iambic pentameter, which you just sorta picked up listening to the guy. While I’m no stand up, I’d like to think that most of humor is a direct influence of Carlin. He gave me the linguistic threads to weave some of the more deranged and perverse ideas that pop into my head at night when I can’t fall asleep.

He showed us that you don’t need to be mainstream or even well versed to rip down the most complex political systems in weird and original ways. The “bigger dick foreign policy theory” doesn’t need any Marx or Rousseau, just a bit everyday observation. I was no philosopher as a 13 year old kid, no deep thinker. I liked engineering and I was “smart” but not so much on the “heavy topics.” Carlin was a philosopher for the everyman. He reeled you into an abyss of scatological humor that somehow shook off the mental detritus. At a time of anti-intellectualism, falling reading comprehension, and general ignorance Carlin showed us a there was a time to be serious a time be silly and a fart joke fit both.

So raise a glass, and whip up a fart for a great man, comedian, philosopher and human being. George, wherever you are, I hope Joe Pesci keeps good watch over you.