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Buck Wolf

R.I.P. George Carlin

By June 23, 2008

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George Carlin Dead at 71 The seven words you should never have to say anywhere, at any time, ever: George Carlin has died of heart failure.

Let me not waste time on the obvious: Few performers influenced America as much as this comic. You’ll hear highlights of his stagecraft all day, so I won't try to sum up the career of a comic master.

I’ll just say this: Despite his curmudgeonly, I-hate-this-mean-world persona, he was a sweet, kind guy.

In 1986, as a college intern, working the now-defunct Comedy USA, I interviewed him after a gig at New York’s Westbury Music Fair.

I was scared as hell, and he told me, “Don’t be nervous, kid, it’s just life.”

Carlin also asked about an article the magazine had run about comics trying to form a union – the Professional Comics Association. At the time most N.Y. stand-ups worked for what they called “cab fare” – and without health insurance.

Carlin, one of comedy's biggest headliners, had no need to unionize. All he might possibly achieve is ticking off club owners.

“Frankly, I’m pissed no one’s asked me to join,” he told me. “I’d do it if only for another chance at self-sabotage.”

To quote Lenny Bruce, the comic who inspired Carlin’s potty mouth, death “is like kissing God.” For an avowed atheist – and professional absurdist -- like Carlin, that might be the ultimate irony.

Even so, it’s richly deserved.

A Life Remembered

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  • Photo © Scott Harrison/Getty Images

    Comments

    June 23, 2008 at 5:57 pm
    (1) mamaleria says:

    A legend is gone…
    I wonder who will fill those shoes…

    June 24, 2008 at 4:35 am
    (2) Anonymous says:

    Here’s a great news article/obituary on George Carlin’s death that fleshes out his impact on counter-culture:

    http://www.hollywoodchicago.com/news/2897/george-carlin-dies-at-71-of-heart-failure-comedian-a-voice-for-counter-culture

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