Tuesday, June 24, 2008

George Carlin

No doubt about it, he was provocative, biting, ornery and more than a bit shocking at times, but at the same time he could also be thought-provoking, politically-aware and playful. Did I mention that he was funny as hell?

The comedy of George Carlin was something I always identified with, much more than I did with the routines of any other funny man active over my lifetime. Over the years, though, I became more and more aware of his fondness for words. Yes, he would turn them around to poke fun at people or ideas that certainly needed knocking down a peg or two, but he also enjoyed words for what they are: precise ways to express oneself. In his eyes, people who were sloppy with the English language deserved the worst of Carlin's scorn.

I'm attaching a favourite comedy sketch and it perfectly points out what I'm talking about. I also agree with his point of view completely. He's pointing out a much bigger ill of society than just our sanitization of speech. We're becoming more and more afraid of nearly everything. George Carlin wanted us to be less safe and comfortable in our own lives, more questioning of what we're told -- by anyone, and by extension, he felt we would get more out of life by being this way.

In the movie Shakespeare in Love (one of my favourites), there is a scene where it's announced that Christopher Marlow has been killed. I believe it's the character played by Ben Affleck who says, "A great light has gone out," or something close to that. I firmly believe that this statement applies to George Carlin, as well. In his own sly way, he shined his very personal light on hypocrisy, prejudice and fuzzy-headed thinking -- and made us laugh at the same time he made us think.

I hope you enjoy the clip of a master comedian at the peak of his game:
George Carlin on Language

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