George Carlin is GOD!|
Oh, sorry... George Carlin is GOOD!... VERY GOOD. So good in fact that the first statement is just about true. He is the originator of the best styles of stand-up comedy we know today. Discovering George Carlin was one of the most exciting experiences of my life. That sounds rather over the top, but good comedy is that important to me.
Anyone interested in good stand-up - especially other comedians - should check out his work, and prepare to be inspired. Go online shopping and buy the double DVD "Jammin' In New York / Doin' It Again". For about £15, your life will never be the same again. And while you're waiting for delivery, there are clips of his work accessible via the website links below.
I first heard a few minutes of his work on a "Comedy USA Special" for BBC Radio 2, and on that programme Steven Wright told about how George Carlin being such an influence on his work. At the time, Steven Wright was an influence on MY work, and so I decided that a chain of influence could be established linking me to George Carlin.
From what I heard I guessed that George was an American comedian from the seventies, so I decided to search for any tapes or CDs of his available in this country. This was pre online shopping, and I realised that for something exotic like an American comedian from the seventies, London would have to be the place to look.
Next time I was in HMV Oxford Street, I looked at the audio comedy section, and there he was - George Carlin! And from the dates on his tapes and CDs, obviously still working! And by an amazing fluke I decided to start with "Back in Town" from 1996, which I now rate as his best stand-up show, even after seeing or hearing all 13 of his HBO specials and other CD album concerts.
There is also a great box set of his first six albums on CD (with a seventh CD of extras), which was my next Christmas present to myself. "The Little David Years" is named after the studio who produced them. From 1971 -1977, these are also essential comedy listening. George Carlin is a master of the English language for comedy purposes, so an audio recording can have great power even without seeing his performance. It was also during this period of his work when he started to explore his childhood and background for comedy. This in particular is a great example for other comedians in finding their true material.
What makes George so special? As I said above, I think that good stand-up comedy as we know it today owes so much to him. He can attack the establishment as well as Bill Hicks. He can get as angry about life as Sam Kinison. He can combine fantasy with real life as well as Eddie Izzard. The droll surreal one-liner style of Steven Wright started with him. Even the comedy of small things which Jerry Seinfeld is famous for started with George.
Such is the strength of George's stand-up material is that it's funny even without George! Two books of his comedy have been published - "Braindroppings" and "Napalm & Silly Putty" - and even if you had never seen or heard George Carlin you will still find these funny. These are not expensive, and for anyone interesting in learning how to construct effective comedy, here are some of the best stand-up routines of all time on the page to study word for word.
So... What are you waiting for? There are 13 HBO specials on DVD, a box set of seven CDs, and two books to explore and enjoy. Have fun.
Airlines video clip 1
Airlines video clip 2