Friday, June 27, 2008

The hippy-dippy weatherman

Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Bill Cosby.

Now, only Cosby is left.

I guess that deep down inside I secretly consider myself a comedian. Although I am by no means anywhere near the level of a comedian who actually works for a living, I was in a comedy troupe that had its own venue and I was a morning disc jockey for a while. I guess that makes me a borderline comedian, a comedian wannabe.

Still, even if I had just been an insurance salesman my entire life there can be no denying that my personality has been heavily influenced by comedians. I didn't really get into Richard Pryor until my teenage years but as a youngster I was exposed to Bill Cosby and George Carlin. There can be no doubt that Bill Cosby was my favorite but George Carlin certainly made an impact. When I was about 11 years old I took the bus to the library and was amazed to discover that you could actually check out record albums. I checked out a George Carlin album based solely on the picture on the cover. I was amazed to discover that the guy on the album actually used cuss words and it was funny. The one routine I still remember from the album was about the word, "shit." I just remember him saying:

Some people will say "shoot" instead of "shit." Like, when they drop a casserole in the kitchen..."Ahhh shoot!" You're not fooling me: "shoot" is "shit" with two o's.

It wasn't until years later that I discovered the "seven dirty words you can't say on television" routine. Naturally, I memorized the seven words to the point that even today I can rattle them off from memory at high speed. When I was in college we actually studied the Supreme Court case surrounding the seven dirty words, which I thought was really cool. I mean, here's this guy that I used to listen to in my bedroom when I was twelve and now he's in my textbook in college.

I wasn't a big fan of Carlin's as the years went on. I felt that his stand-up evolved into two distinct directions: either he was pissed off and railing against something which wasn't always funny, or he was making fun of language, which is interesting, but again not always funny. The one thing that I did love about Carlin was that he was totally fearless when it came to speaking his mind and his opinion, especially about religion.

It's really sad to see him go. He's been around for so long that you just got used to George Carlin always being here. I'll miss him.

If you're not really familiar with much of George Carlin's material I would suggest looking online for his routine called, "a place for your stuff." Personally, I think that it is probably his best routine because it does such a good job of capturing a phenomenon that everyone is familiar with but no one paid attention to it until he brought it up.


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