Monday, June 23, 2008

Adieu Carlin

so the era of the greatest stand-up comics is now well and truly over. Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor and, now, George Carlin.

I have lost the last living hero I had.

I started listening to Carlin for the obvious reasons - his total mastery over language and the shock value. Who else ever mentioned pussy farts but him? Or shout "F**k the children!"? Half his repertoire is dedicated to farts ("shit without the fuss and the muss") and incest.

but like anyone who has heard him, I soon realised that to dismiss Carlin as one of the IMDB commenters said a risque comedian is like mistaking Gandhi for a bastard bania. A fanatical atheist, Carlin was more a reformer than a comedian. His description of comedy as "finding where the line is and then stepping over it" underlines his life-long crusade, in fact all the three's (Bruce Pryor and Carlin) against the hidden tyrannies and stupidities that govern us, our beliefs and our politics.

Carlin's work can be broadly described into these themes -

Language and how the corporate or politically correct jackasses are corrupting it:

Airline Announcements: "People like to sound important. Weathermen on television talk about ‘shower activity.’ Sounds more important than ‘showers.’ I even heard one guy on CNN talk about a ‘rain event.’ Swear to God, he said, “Louisiana’s expecting a rain event,” I thought, “Holy shit, I hope I can get tickets to that!”"

"I’d like to mention something about language, there are a couple of terms being used a lot these days by guilty white liberals. The first is “Happens to be” ‘He happens to be black’ “I have a friend, who happens to be black” like it’s a fucking accident ya know. Happens to be black? Yes, he happens to be black. He has two black parents? Oh yes, yes he did. And they fucked? Oh indeed they did. So where does the surprise part come in? I’d think it’d be more unusual if he just happened to be scandinavian.The other term is openly. “He’s openly gay” that’s the only minority they use that for. You wouldn’t say someone is openly black well maybe James Brown. Or Louis Farrakhan, Louis Farrakhan is openly black. Colin Powell is not openly black, Colin Powell is openly white, he just happens to be black."

Our stupid lives

Driving Cars

Stuff!

Fuck the Children! (I know it sounds very tasteless but listen/ read to it and then form a judgement)

Seven words you can't say (His most famous routine)

And my favorite: Complaints and Grievances

Atheism

The new commandments

Small things no-one notices or mentions

I was actually planning a post on why India, more than any other place, needs a Carlin.

We the biggest democracy, are taking a nosedive towards being the most intolerant society as well. If everyone gets offended by everything that is not according to the locally defined norm, where is the space for the power of speech. By reducing democracy as the lowest common denominator of all conformist beliefs, prejudices and intolerance, we have effectively gagged everything - not unlike the caste system that gagged all winds of change for two millenia.

As Carlin said, nothing is sacrosanct. Not religion, not children, not even beliefs that we have held for a thousand years. If someone says it is, it needs to be ridiculed and attacked. We can only be serious about anything only after we know we can laugh at it.

June 23rd will now be called, the day, the era of comedy, that took the world by its throat and shook all the hypocrisies out, died.

Sadly, to a lot of successors, all that passed down from Carlin was his ribald style. The poetry and the philosophy within was not understood.

Adieu Carlin.

Watch him in action here: Carlin on Youtube

1 comment:

TradeExpress said...

i had come across carlin momentarily long ago on youtube, but had quickly passed him over because he seemed a little too brash. you made me go look take a closer look, and what a joy he turned out to be!