RIP George Carline

Originally published in the OCCC Pioneer on June 30th, 2008

The world forever lost one of the last true legends of comedy, George Carlin, June 22.

He was one of the few comedians to become successful without ever compromising who he was.

He was a rare case of someone who became hugely popular because he stayed true to himself, and there will never be anyone like him.

Carlin had long hair, a beard and earrings and dressed casually at a time when comedians were only clean-cut and well-dressed.

He pushed the boundaries of what topics comedians could cover and he fought against obscenity laws.

His “Seven words you can’t say on television” routine was especially controversial and ground-breaking.

Carlin’s foul-mouthed routines were somehow smart and clever enough to appeal to even the most straight-laced of listeners.

Even his biting religious criticisms could be appreciated by the religious community.

Regardless if the audience agreed with him or not, they had to respect because he was simply so funny and smart.

He might be one of the few comedians to have developed a massive fanbase outside of the comedy community without the help of a movie or television career.

Carlin stayed active in comedy until the end of his life.

His HBO special “It’s Bad For Ya!” premiered in March, and he toured regularly. He was in a class all his own when it came to consistency and longevity.

Carlin belongs to a short list of comedians who have mastered the craft. Richard Pryor may be the only other comedian to have had such a powerful effect on not only the world of comedy, but on society as a whole.

To really see how great Carlin was, simply compare his material to that of today’s most popular comedians.

Stand-ups like Larry the Cable Guy and Carlos Mencia perform cliché, trite material dumbed down to the absolute lowest common denominator, whereas Carlin valued originality and expected intelligence from his audience.

Carlin was a counter-culture icon who will forever be missed.