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L E’s Stories – “The Dean Of Counterculture Comedians” – Salute To George Carlin

There were two things that were slow to develop out in West Texas…..rock n roll music, as Pops (Bone Daddy’s father) said about the music that “it is like cat gut being pulled through your ears”…..which simply meant that there was not going to be any rock n roll music played at the house on 1802 Louisiana Street in Midland, Texas….cuz the truth be told, Bone Daddy didn’t really get into rock music until he got to college in 1965….which was also where he discovered the comedic genius of George Carlin…..a comedian who was “a bit on the edge” out in West Texas in the mid-1960’s…..where they didn’t take to “hippie types'” back in the decade of the 1960’s….as folks at the University of Texas in the late 1960’s considered Carlin to be “coffeehouse beatnik comedy”…..for it was something that was not considered mainstream…..but then came the Viet Nam War, a time when  “counterculture comedy” became mainstream….and a “pressure valve” for the pent up frustrations of not supporting what was called a war….but, Bone Daddy has always said that Viet Nam was a “political police action”….however, as anti-war demonstrations grew and became prevalent….when Bob Dylan music had become “gospel”…..the youth of America turned a public ear to the sounds of “anti-war”….and George Carlin comedy became an extended part of BD’s life from there forward…..so, I am more than happy to post this story about a true comedic genius and one of the best “Word Merchants” to ever grace the stage.                                                          

Comedy – 1967 – George Carlin Stand-Up Routine – “Christopher Columbus And The Santa Maria Heading Back To England”                                                                                                                                                            

George Carlin (May 12, 1937 – June 22, 2008) was an American stand-up comedian, actor, social critic and author…..who is regarded as one of the most important and influential stand-up comics of all time…..while being dubbed “the dean of counterculture  comedians”.  He was known for his dark comedy and reflections on politics….the English language….psychology…..religion….. and taboo subjects.  His “seven dirty words” routine was central to the 1978 United States Supreme Court case F.C.C. v. Pacifica Foundation, in which a 5–4 decision affirmed the government’s power to censor indecent material on the public airwaves.                                                                                                                                                                 

Comedy – 1976 – George Carlin In Concert – “7 Words You Can’t Say On TV”                                                             

The first of Carlin’s 14 stand-up comedy specials for HBO was filmed in 1977…..and from there on, especially from the late 1980’s, his routines focused on socio-cultural criticism of American society.  He often commented on American political issues and satirized American culture…..as he was a frequent performer and guest host on The Tonight Show during the three-decade Johnny Carson era….in addition to hosting the first episode of Saturday Night Live in 1975…..while his final comedy special, It’s Bad for Ya, was filmed less than four months before his death from cardiac arrest.  In 2008, he was posthumously awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.   In 2004, he placed second on Comedy Central’s list of top 10 American comedians.  In 2017, Rolling Stone magazine ranked him second (behind Richard Pryor) on its list of the 50 best stand-up comedians of all time.                                                                                      

Comedy – 1992 – George Carlin Live On Stage – “Everyday Expressions”                                                                  

In 1959, Carlin met Jack Burns, a fellow DJ at radio station KXOL in Fort Worth, Texas.  They formed a comedy team and after successful performances at Fort Worth’s beat coffeehouse called The Cellar, Burns and Carlin headed for California in February 1960.

 

Comedy – 1966 – The Jimmy Dean Show – With Guest Comedian George Carlin

Within weeks of arriving in California, Burns and Carlin put together an audition tape and created The Wright Brothers, a morning show on KDAY in Hollywood. During their tenure at KDAY, they honed their material in beatnik coffeehouses at night.  Years later when he was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Carlin requested that it be placed in front of the KDAY studios near the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Vine Street.  Burns and Carlin recorded their only album, Burns and Carlin at the Playboy Club Tonight, in May 1960 at Cosmo Alley in Hollywood.  After two years together as a team, they parted to pursue individual careers, but “remain[ed] the best of friends”.                                                                                                  

Comedy & Music – 1963 – The Mothers Club Presents – Burns & Carlin At The Playboy Club

In the 1960’s, Carlin began appearing on television variety shows….where he played various characters such as the Indian Sergeant,  “There will be a rain dance tonight … weather permitting …”…..as well as a stupid disc jockeys (Wonderful WINO radio),  “The Beatles’ latest record, when played backwards at slow speed, says, ‘Dummy! You’re playing it backwards at slow speed!'”……plus, Al Sleet, the Hippie-Dippie Weatherman,  “Tonight’s forecast: Dark. Continued mostly dark tonight, changing to widely scattered light towards morning.”  Any way you cut the pie…..Carlin’s style and humor came through…..which set him apart from the thundering herd.  So, a question….wouldn’t George Carlin have a field day with the way I write!?!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Comedy – 1996 – HBO On Location With George Carlin – “Back In Town On Some Cultural Issues”                              

Variations on these routines appear on Carlin’s 1967 debut album, Take-Offs and Put-Ons, which was recorded live in 1966 at The Roostertail in Detroit, Michigan and issued by RCA Victor in 1967.  During this period, Carlin became a frequent performer and guest host on The Tonight Show, initially with Jack Paar as host, and then with Johnny Carson. Carlin became one of Carson’s most frequent substitutes during the host’s three-decade reign. Carlin was also cast in Away We Go, a 1967 comedy show that aired on CBS.  His material during his early career and his appearance, which consisted of suits and short-cropped hair, had been seen as “conventional”, particularly when contrasted with his later anti-establishment material.                                                                                                                                                             

Comedy – 1978 – HBO On Location With George Carlin – “George Carlin Again!”                                                      

Carlin was present at Lenny Bruce’s arrest for obscenity. As the police began attempting to detain members of the audience for questioning, they asked Carlin for his identification….who told the police he did not believe in government-issued IDs…..so, he was arrested and taken to jail with Bruce in the same vehicle.  In the late 1960’s, Carlin was making about $250,000 annually.  As a tax shelter, he bought a twin-engine Aero Commander 1121 Jet Commander private jet and hired pilots to fly him to various tour dates.                             

Comedy – 1981 – The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson – Featuring Comedians George Carlin + Richard Pryor

Over time, Carlin changed his routines and his appearance….as he grew his hair long….while sporting a beard and earrings…..and typically dressed in T-shirts and blue jeans….whereby, he lost some TV bookings by dressing strangely for a comedian at a time when clean-cut, well-dressed comedians were the norm…..but there was nothing about Carlin that was norm.  He hired talent managers Jeff Wald and Ron De Blasio to help him change his image….and making him look more “hip” for a younger audience. Wald put Carlin into much smaller clubs such as The Troubadour in West Hollywood and The Bitter End in New York City….and later said that Carlin’s income was thus reduced by 90%…..but his later career arc was greatly improved.  In 1970, record producer Monte Kay formed the Little David Records subsidiary of Atlantic Records….along with comedian Flip Wilson as co-owner……as Kay and Wilson signed Carlin away from RCA Records….and recorded a Carlin performance at Washington, D.C.’s Cellar Door in May 1971, which was released as FM & AM in January 1972.  De Blasio was busy managing the fast-paced career of Freddie Prinze…..and was about to sign Richard Pryor….so he released Carlin to Little David general manager Jack Lewis…. who, like Carlin, was somewhat wild and rebellious.  Using his own persona as a springboard for his new comedy, he was presented by Ed Sullivan in a performance of “The Hair Piece” and quickly regained his popularity as the public caught on to his sense of style.                                                                                                                                                          

Comedy – 1973 – George Carlin Stand-Up Routine – “The Hair Piece”                                                                           

Starting in 1972, singer-songwriter Kenny Rankin was Carlin’s label mate on Little David Records…..as  Rankin served many times as Carlin’s musical guest or opening act during the early 1970’s…..when the two flew together in Carlin’s private jet….but Carlin says that Rankin relapsed into using cocaine while on tour since Carlin had so much of the drug available. The album FM & AM proved very popular….as it marked Carlin’s change from mainstream to counterculture comedy…..wherein the “AM” side was an extension of Carlin’s previous style…..with zany but relatively clean routines parodying aspects of American life…..while the “FM” side introduced Carlin’s new style….with references to marijuana and birth control pills…..and a playful examination of the word “shit”…..when in fact, Carlin renewed a style of radical social commentary comedy that Lenny Bruce had pioneered in the late 1950’s.                                               

Comedy – 2011 – Archive Of American Television Special – George Carlin On “Why It Is Important To Not Give A Shit”                                                                                                                                                                       

In this period, Carlin perfected his well-known “seven dirty words” routine….which most notably appears on Class Clown as “‘Shit’, ‘piss’, ‘fuck’, ‘cunt’, ‘cocksucker’, ‘motherfucker’, and ‘tits’.  Those are the heavy seven. Those are the ones that’ll infect your soul, curve your spine and keep the country from winning the war.”….so, on July 21, 1972, Carlin was arrested after performing this routine at Milwaukee’s  Summerfest  and charged with violating obscenity laws.  The case, which prompted Carlin to refer to the words for a time as the “Milwaukee Seven”, was dismissed in December when the judge declared that the language was indecent but that Carlin had the freedom to say it as long as he caused no disturbance.  In 1973, a man complained to the FCC after listening with his son to a similar routine, “Filthy Words” from Carlin’s Occupation: Foole….which was broadcast one afternoon over radio station WBAI…..when Pacifica received a citation from the FCC for violating regulations that prohibit broadcasting “obscene” material.  The Supreme Court upheld the FCC action by a vote of 5 to 4, ruling that the routine was “indecent but not obscene”….and that the FCC had authority to prohibit such broadcasts during hours when children were likely to be among the audience.                                                                                                    

Comedy – 2020 – Special Video – How George Carlin’s ‘7 Words’ Caused a Landmark Supreme Court Decision

The controversy increased Carlin’s fame. He eventually expanded the “dirty words” theme with a seemingly interminable end to a performance….while finishing with his voice fading out in one HBO version….and accompanying the credits in the Carlin at Carnegie special for the 1982–83 season….plus a set of 49 web pages organized by subject and embracing his “Incomplete List of Impolite Words” On stage, during a rendition of this routine, Carlin learned that his previous comedy album FM & AM had won a Grammy. Midway through the performance on the album Occupation: Foole, he can be heard thanking someone for handing him a piece of paper. He then exclaimed “shit!” and proudly announced his win to the audience.

 

Comedy – 1977 – HBO On Location Special With George Carlin Live At Carnegie Hall – “Dogs And Cats”                            

In 1981, Carlin returned to the stage, releasing A Place for My Stuff and returning to HBO and New York City with the Carlin at Carnegie TV special, videotaped at Carnegie Hall and airing during the 1982–83 season. Carlin continued doing HBO specials every year or two over the following decade and a half. All of Carlin’s albums from this time forward are from the HBO specials.

 

Comedy – 1986 – Comic Relief Concert With George Carlin Routine – “Stuff”                                                                    

Carlin began to achieve prominence as a film actor with a major supporting role in the 1987 comedy hit Outrageous Fortune, starring Bette Midler and Shelley Long; it was his first notable screen role after a handful of previous guest roles on television series. Playing drifter Frank Madras, he poked fun at the lingering effect of the 1960s counterculture. In 1989, he gained popularity with a new generation of teens when he was cast as Rufus, the time-traveling mentor of the title characters in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and reprised his role in the film sequel Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey as well as the first season of the cartoon series. He also played the role of “Mr Conductor” on the PBS show Shining Time Station and narrated the show’s sequences of the American version of the U.K. television series Thomas & Friends from 1984 to 1995, replacing Ringo Starr. According to Britt Allcroft, who developed both shows, on the first day of the assignment, Carlin was nervous about recording his narration without an audience, so the producers put a stuffed teddy bear in the booth.  Also in 1991, Carlin had a major supporting role in the movie The Prince of Tides, which starred Nick Nolte and Barbra Streisand, portraying the gay neighbor of the main character’s suicidal sister.                                                                             

Comedy – 1988 – HBO On Location With George Carlin In What Am I Doing In New Jersey – “Football VS Baseball”                                                                                                                                                                            

In 1993, Carlin began a weekly Fox sitcom, The George Carlin Show…..where he played New York City taxicab driver George O’Grady…..as the show was created and written by The Simpsons co-creator Sam Simon….which ran for 27 episodes through December 1995.  In his final book, the posthumously published Last Words, Carlin said about The George Carlin Show, “I had a great time. I never laughed so much, so often, so hard as I did with cast members Alex Rocco, Chris Rich, Tony Starke. There was a very strange, very good sense of humor on that stage … [but] I was incredibly happy when the show was canceled. I was frustrated that it had taken me away from my true work.”                                          

Comedy – 1996 – HBO On Location With George Carlin Back In Town – “The Death Penalty”                                       

Carlin later explained that there were other, more pragmatic reasons for abandoning his acting career in favor of stand-up comedy…..when in an interview for Esquire magazine in 2001, he said….“Because of my abuse of drugs, I neglected my business affairs and had large arrears with the IRS, and that took me eighteen to twenty years to dig out of. I did it honorably, and I don’t begrudge them. I don’t hate paying taxes, and I’m not angry at anyone, because I was complicit in it.  But I’ll tell you what it did for me: it made me a way better comedian. Because I had to stay out on the road and I couldn’t pursue that movie career, which would have gone nowhere, and I became a really good comic and a really good writer.”                               

Comedy – 1997 – HBO On Location With George Carlin’s Personal Favorites – “Honor Students And Parents & Phone Calls And Kid’s Answering Machine & Christmas Cards & Visors & Children Names”                 

Carlin was honored at the 1997 Aspen Comedy Festival with a retrospective, George Carlin: 40 Years of Comedy, hosted by Jon Stewart. His first hardcover book, Brain Droppings (1997), sold nearly 900,000 copies and spent 40 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list.                                                                               

Comedy – 1978 – HBO On Location With George Carlin Again! – “Death And Dying”                                                     

In 2001, Carlin was given a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 15th Annual American Comedy Awards. In December 2003, Representative Doug Ose (R-California) introduced a bill (H.R. 3687) to outlaw the broadcast of Carlin’s “seven dirty words”, including “compound use (including hyphenated compounds) of such words and phrases with each other or with other words or phrases, and other grammatical forms of such words and phrases (including verb, adjective, gerund, participle, and infinitive forms)”. The bill omitted “tits”, but included “asshole”, which was not one of Carlin’s original seven words. The bill was referred to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution in January 2004, where it was tabled.                             

Comedy – 1978 – HBO On Location With George Carlin Again! – “Can’t Say Fart And Fuck On TV”                                                  

Carlin performed regularly as a headliner in Las Vegas….but in 2004 his run at the MGM Grand Las Vegas was terminated after an altercation with his audience…..when after a poorly received set, filled with dark references to suicide bombings and beheadings….that is when Carlin complained that he could not wait to get out of “this fucking hotel” and Las Vegas….while saying he wanted to go back east….“where the real people are”…..then he continued “People who go to Las Vegas, you’ve got to question their fucking intellect to start with. Traveling hundreds and thousands of miles to essentially give your money to a large corporation is kind of fucking moronic. That’s what I’m always getting here is these kind of fucking people with very limited intellects.”   When an audience member shouted, “Stop degrading us!” Carlin responded, “Thank you very much, whatever that was. I hope it was positive; if not, well, blow me.” He was immediately fired, and soon thereafter his representative announced that he would begin treatment for alcohol and prescription painkiller addiction on his own initiative.                                                            

Comedy – 1992 – HBO On Location With George Carlin Jammin’ In New York – “Expressions And Sayings”                                

Following his thirteenth HBO special on November 5, 2005, Life Is Worth Losing….which aired live from the Beacon Theatre in New York City….during which he mentioned, “I’ve got 341 days of sobriety”….as  Carlin toured his new material through the first half of 2006…..with topics that included suicide, natural disasters, cannibalism, genocide, human sacrifice, threats to civil liberties in the U.S. and the case for his theory that humans are inferior to other animals.  At the first tour stop in February at the Tachi Palace Casino in Lemoore, California, Carlin mentioned that the appearance was his “first show back” after a six-week hospitalization for heart failure and pneumonia..                                                                                                                                          

Comedy – 2005 – HBO On Location With George Carlin’s “Life Is Worth Losing” – On “Dumb Americans”                          

Carlin voiced a character in the 2006 Disney/Pixar animated feature Cars….as the character, Fillmore, is an anti-establishment hippie VW Microbus with a psychedelic paint job and the license plate “51237”…. which was Carlin’s birthday.  In 2007, Carlin voiced the wizard in Happily N’Ever After….which was his last film.  Carlin’s last HBO stand-up special, It’s Bad for Ya….which aired live on March 1, 2008, from the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts in Santa Rosa, California…..where themes included “American bullshit”, rights, death, old age, and child rearing.  He repeated the theme to his audience several times throughout the show: “It’s all bullshit, and it’s bad for ya.”  When asked on Inside the Actors Studio what turned him on, he responded, “Reading about language.” When asked what made him proudest of his career, he said the number of his books that have been sold, close to a million copies.                                                 

Comedy – 2007 – George Carlin Live On Stage In NYC – “You Have No Rights”                                                   

As I approach the conclusion of this story, I have to admit that I have a very warm spot in my heart for George Carlin…..cuz he and Bone Daddy have a great deal in common….in that they both really didn’t care what other people thought of them throughout their lives…..which enabled both to be very unique in thought and perspective…..as they both roamed the lands outside of the box….cuz they didn’t subscribe to the expectations and guidelines as laid out to them by the environments that they grew up in….plus, they both had an acute sense of humor.  As evidenced by the videos posted in this story herewith….the comedic genius of George Carlin was off the charts….and it is easy to understand why “The Dean of Counterculture Comedians” resides still today at the top of all stand-up comedians to ever grace a stage….and we here at ImaSportsphile are delighted to have such a wonderful collection of his works.                        

Comedy – 1992 – HBO On Location With George Carlin Jammin’ In New York – “Save The Planet”

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