Two years after the world lost George Carlin, fellow comedians Greg Fitzsimmons and Ben Gleib joined host Patt Morrison to pay homage to the man who left the legacy of “seven dirty words” and a brand of comedy that permitted the next generation of comedians to skewer the sacred and profane.
George Carlin died two years ago after he distinguished himself as the man who could dig into polite society with keen logic and a poet’s tongue. Patt Morrison dubbed him today “a philosopher with a punch line.”
Over four decades, Carlin’s stand-up comedy routines would strike out at polite society.
“Religion has actually convinced people that there’s an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do every minute of every day,” Carlin told his audience.
“And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place full of fire and torture and burning and anguish where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever till the end of time,” Carlin said, working himself up to a fever pitch worthy of any passionate sermon. He paused. “But he loves you. He loves you and he needs money!”
Fitzsimmons admired Carlin for his way with words.
“He taught me that a word can change an opinion just like that and that the choices of words was so important.”
Both Gleib and Fitzsimmons admired Carlin’s on-stage presence.
“He was a poet. There wasn’t a wasted word or motion on stage. There was a melody to it and conciseness to it,” Fitzsimmons said.
“He is the reason that I’m a stand-up comedian,” Gleib, a senior member of Comedy Congress said. He remembered a man who could arm himself with logic and clear arguments to ridicule human foibles.
Carlin paid attention to the cadence of his voice, at times sounding gruff and indignant, at other times bewildered and curious.
“He really looked at a stand-up performance... like an orchestral arrangement,” Gleib said, noting that his voice would drop deep down or rise in pitch.
Carlin would meditate on sex, religion, war, presidents. Few subjects were taboo for the comedian who knew how to push the limits of society's sensitivities.
“He did the impossible, which is he stayed relevant over three decades. He was always himself,” Fitzsimmons said.
Callers noted Carlin’s gentle spirit off-stage, even if on stage he would on most occasions strike out at the establishment.
“Carlin always said he loved individuals. He loved people. It was just groups that he hated,” Gleib said.
Best known for stand-up, Carlin paid attention to his delivery, allowing his fans to be jolted from complacency.
“Comedy opens people’s mind’s. When you make people laugh, people take notice,” Fitzsimmons said.
The late comedian understood his legacy in American comedy — insisting on the irreverent while staying relevant. The late comedian once said he wanted one of two things written on his tombstone: either “he was just here a minute ago or too hip for the room.”