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
- A Dirty Point: Carlin's Obscenity Trials
- God and Other Jokes: Carlin on Religion
- Urban Legends: Was Carlin a Bad American?
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