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2:09 am - Tues 6.24.2008
George Carlin

George Carlin

Is it just me, or has there been a lot of celebrity death lately?

Starting to get leery of checking in at; seems like every time I do, I get bummed out, cause the first thing I see is a big picture of someone who's just died.

Actually, beyond the initial surprise - if they're young, I'm surprised they've died, while if they're old, I'm surprised they were still alive in the first place - celebrity death doesn't make a big impression on me, because, by and large, celebrity lives don't make a big impression on me.

But I was very saddened to see that big obituary photo of George Carlin on Sunday (The picture caught my eye before I read the headline, and immediately I thought, "Oh no...!").

Carlin was one of my three favorite stand-ups (Richard Pryor and early Bill Cosby being the other two).

And now two of my comedy heroes are dead...and I can't remember the last time Bill Cosby was actually funny, so for my purposes, he might was well be dead.

I've spent much of the past day online, reading all the Carlin obituaries, and fan comments, and watching videos of his work on YouTube.

In recent years, Carlin sometimes came off a little too sour and angry for my tastes (Though at least he was always sour and angry about the right things), but that doesn't take away at all from how influential and important I think he was as a performer, and how influential and important he was to me personally.

I really enjoyed, in particular, his use of language; not just that he "cursed" a lot or was "vulgar"(Though the "transgressive language" definitely hooked me, just like with Pryor, when I was a teenager), but that he clearly loved language, and words, that he took great pleasure in both the meaning and the music of speech (whether "profane" or not), and how, comedically, he didn't have much patience for people using language to hide meaning instead of to communicate it.

(I know my amusement/annoyance at what I used to call "ArcLight-Speak" definitely goes back to Carlin; if I have a fairly good B.S. detector when it comes to what I read and hear, he's a big part of the reason why.)

And as I was reading today, I realized there was something else I admired about Carlin, something I hope to emulate in the days to come.

He had the courage to become who he was always supposed to be.

Not everyone does.

He made me laugh, he inspired me to think, and he made me want to have an impact on people the way he's had an impact on me.

Multiply that millions of times over, for all the people who had my same experience listening to his comedy or reading his books, and that's not a bad legacy.

Not bad at all.

Thanks George...


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