Monday, June 23, 2008

George Carlin Greeted by Alanis Morissette

George Carlin, one of the seminal stand up comedians of all time, has died of heart failure at the age of 71. Carlin was a controversial figure whose routines often pushed the social norms on the issues of religion and, well... pretty much everything. And he pushed hard. Carlin's edgiest routines were at the heart of a 1978 Supreme Court ruling affirming the government's rights to regulate the airwaves.

His oft-quoted "Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television"routine may as well have been called "Seven Words All Junior High School Kids Always Say Repeatedly," but the nomenclature wasn't always widespread. Carlin was arrested for disturbing the peace in 1972 when he uttered all seven at a show in Milwaukee.

"So my name is a footnote in American legal history, which I'm perversely kind of proud of," Carlin said. "In the context of that era, it was daring." "It just sounds like a very self-serving kind of word. I don't want to go around describing myself as a 'groundbreaker' or a 'difference-maker' because I'm not and I wasn't," he said. "But I contributed to people who were saying things that weren't supposed to be said."
Carlin was the kind of guy who would make Fox News run the headline "Counterculture Comedian George Carlin Dies at 71," but to the rest of us he was a cultural comedian, and more accurately- cultural commentator.

Carlin hosted the first ever episode of Saturday Night Live, and in the very worth it to own "Live from New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live" Lorne Michaels shares an anecdote over a battle between himself/Carlin and the NBC network heads over what George Carlin would wear for his hosting duties. In the end, they compromised and Carlin wore a suit - with a t shirt.

That, to me, was Carlin: a t shirt in the age of the suits. Sadly, he'll never say those seven words on television ever again.


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