He achieved a remarkable career which spanned for over 5 decades. George Carlin is one of the most important people in comedy. His contributions include a change in the routine of stand-up comedy, his focus on the importance of language and a debate regarding free speech that reached the Supreme Court. The Importance of George Carlin in comedy, is of immence value even today.
Around the 60s culture was beginning to change. Old comics and comedy sketches were beginning to look boring and out of fashion. Shows intended for the young people like the Ed Sullivan Show were irrelevant to a generation that was experimenting with drugs and was protesting against the Vietnam war. Carlin started doing comedy in about those times and he met immidiate success as he defined his generation.
His routine was edgy, provocative and prophetic. He was never afraid to challenge ideas as patriotism, pride, education, religion and even the language. Even today, after his death associated with comedy bits like, “Seven Words You Can Never Say in Television” and his later “It’s all Bu****t and it’s Bad for Ya”. He was arrested on stage in 1972 for performing the first one. Later on the judge dissmised the case.
George Carlin released more than 20 comedy albums. Impressively, he also starred in 20 HBO specials. He was honoured with the American Comedy Awards’ Lifetime Achievement Award (2001). He also received the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor (2008).
George Carlin was a product of counterculture era in lifestyle as well as comedy. During the 70s, like many others, he too dealt with drug addiction. “I really wasn’t being as creative,” he admitted years later. “Sure I lost years. I could have been a pole vaulter in those years, and instead I was kind of like doing hurdles.” He revived his career in the early 80s when he kicked the addiction away and started to make comedy more actively again.
If you have followed George Carlin’s comedy bits, it comes as no surprise that eventually he became an advocate of free speech. He continued to use his comedy to address volatile topics, including censorship, religion, politics, illegal drugs, foreign policy, and the American consumer culture. This didn’t change to the very end of his life. Also, most of his comedy predicted many of the problems that societies would face in the future. This is what makes him relatable and relevant to this day.
After influencing a huge number of contemporary comedians, with Luis C.K and Bill Burr being among them, George Carlin died on June 22, 2008 in his house in Santa Monica. He left behind a huge volume of work which is watched and read to this day.