The King of Controversy: George Carlin


“I’ve got a personal trainer, a personal shopper, a personal assistant and a personal agenda. You can’t shut me up. You can’t dumb me down because I’m tireless and I’m wireless, I’m an alpha male on beta-blockers.”

I stumbled on George Carlin in my late teens after clicking the wrong link on YouTube, and within minutes of watching I’m a Modern Man I knew his comedy was for me. Not only did I find what Carlin was saying funny I found that it stirred something up inside me. I was 19 years old, sat watching videos on my laptop in student digs and I decide I wanted to change my life.

That’s the thing about good comedy it doesn’t just make you laugh, it makes you think. Carlin was an expert at making you think while you wiped tears from your eyes. He never shied away from a controversial topic and was happy to take on all comers. Feminism wasn’t safe. The American Government, really wasn’t safe and Religion was a constant target for Carlin’s comedic rants.

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“Religion has convinced people that there’s an invisible man…living in the sky, who watches everything you do every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a list of ten specific things he doesn’t want you to do. And if you do any of these things, he will send you to a special place, of burning and fire and smoke and torture and anguish for you to live forever, and suffer and burn and scream until the end of time. But he loves you. He loves you and he needs money.”

They say every great comedian has a comedy persona, to some Carlin’s up in three words is easy. Grump Old Man. But there was more to him than a bad attitude and a gruff voice. Behind the delivery was that spark that ignited a fire in his audiences’ brains. His punch-lines, wrapped up in bitter cynicism, made you think. He specialised in making you laugh and then raise questions. Why? How? What? Carlin made people look at the world in a different way and if that’s not a good use of a clever mind and a quick wit, what is?

“I think it’s the duty of the comedian to find out where the line is drawn and cross it deliberately.”

Carlin also had another string to his comic bow. While what he said was often controversial and a lot of the time political, Carlin would also just say outlandish things. Most of this stuff was off beat and riddled with profanity but it also just made you flat out wet yourself laughing.

“Reminds me of something my third-grade teacher said to us. She said, “You show me a tropical fruit and I’ll show you a cocksucker from Guatemala.”

As Carlin grew older and continued to perform well into his later years these sorts of alternative lines became even funnier. Because deep down everyone loves to hear an old man saying dirty things.

“I never fucked a ten, but one night, I fucked five twos.”

If they aren’t words to live by, I don’t know what are.


Words: DB Mitchell.


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