Goodbye to George Carlin in 7 words or less

T.A. Barnhart

George Carlin was not an ordinary stand-up comedian. Like Richard Pryor, he transcended comedy and had a tangible impact on society. For over 40 years, he called America on its crap, from words you couldn't say on tv (most of which you now can) to drugs to the news. He got a bit more cranky than funny at times as he grew older, but he stayed true to his muse. It sucks that he's gone; I remember laughing at Al Sleet, the Hippy Dippy Weatherman when I was just a kid (Tonight's forecast: Dark, continued dark with scattered light towards morning).

The following will always be my favorite Carlin piece and sums up his brilliance with language, ideas and absurdity. And it shows that no matter how much he bitched about the human race — and sweet Jesus on roller skates, George Carlin bitched about the human race — he was, at heart, an optimist. Sadly, his heart failed him, and he's gone. So once again, huge gratitude for the memorial that is YouTube.

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    i totally forgot: i saw George Carlin in concert years ago. in Billings, Montana, at Eastern Montana College where my dad taught. he was touring with John Denver. that was a great night. George Carlin comedy, including the 7 Words, and then John Denver, my favorite musician in high school (just John and his bassist, legend Dick Kniss). i know i didn't get a lot of what he was saying back then, but i knew enough to laugh my ass off.

  • Bob (unverified)

    This is Bull$hit!

    That was for you George. You will be missed. Thank you for making us laugh and think at the same time.

  • Peter Bray (unverified)

    Shitting piss-sucking mother-fucking cunts... these god-damned cocksuckers can go to hell, these motherfucking, tit-scratching little farts. Why don't these little turds go back up the twat they came from?

  • Dylan (unverified)

    What a truly sad day this is. I awoke this morning at 4:45 unable to sleep (I never have this problem) and decided to get a snack and head back to bed. As I had the local news on, I read the scroll that said George Carlin was dead, but nothing else. Then for the next 30 minutes I surfed the local news stations (I don't have cable) and could find nothing except for the bubbly newscasters updating me constantly on weather and traffic, with a few meaningless local stories smattered inbetween. Really frustrating!

    I'm 30. My brother and I discovered George Carlin when we were 12 and neither of us have been the same since. We have learned from George Carlin to question authority, that there are no such things as sacred cows, and that not everything is as it is sold to us. I am a freethinking liberal today thanks to George Carlin.

    The one thing I will say about T.A.'s post and most in his generation is that they don't fully appreciate Carlin. Anyone who when describing Carlin's great work references the 7-dirty words, baseball vs. football, or particularly the hippy-dippy weatherman, do not really understand the man or even begin to appreciate his comedic and philosophical contributions. His most thoughtful works have come in the last 20 years and those were the ones he was most proud of. As he explained on the back of 1996 album Back in Town, "Here's what I want you to know about this album: It's the best writing and performing I've done in 36 years. I said that about my last album, "Jammin' In New York," and it was true. But this is better. Somehow, in the last six years, I finally learned how to do this shit. I hope you enjoy it."

    I like Carlin's old stuff too, but I agree with him. His later stuff is just better. And from a political and philosphical standpoint there is no comparison. Carlin was embarrassed by the hippy dippy weatherman and was frustrated by the people who were never able to see or appreciate him as the more thoughtful comedian he turned into. Below is a clip I think Carlin would be more proud of us watching in his memory this day. Its 4:49 in length. Its an amazing bit and the last sentence alone makes it worth the view. In case the below embed doesn't work, it can be found at

    Goodbye George. We'll miss you. And I'm sorry I didn't name my first born after you as I had considered for so long, but George W. Bush kind of ruined that too.

    <object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value=";hl=en"></param><embed src=";hl=en" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>

  • BOHICA (unverified)


    The one thing I will say about T.A.'s post and most in his generation is that they don't fully appreciate Carlin.

    Well I'm glad you cleared that up for me. I guess I wasted good money the last time I saw him in concert.

    I guess I didn't appreciate Mort Sahl either.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)

    Well, i certainly appreciated his wit, insight and optimistic view of the United States. The man was just about the closest thing to a concious that we actually had.

    I will have to dig out my LP, The Seven Words You Can't Say... and relive those moments.

  • Eric Parker (unverified)

    One of my favorites of George was when he descibed how we look for things when we lose them...

    "...Where's the Banana Guacamole???"

    ...and the other item...

    "politics are like diarreah...every 4 years they get the runs...look out, he's running again!"


    Rest in peace, George

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    Hope you're safe at home, Mr. Carlin.

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    He was a genius, and he will be missed.

    I just hope he got his two minutes. Cue the great George Carlin:

    Now, you might be wondering why I would even suggest that someone can affect the manner and style of his death. Well, it's because of a mysterious and little-known stage of dying, the two-minute warning. Most people are not aware of it, but it does exist. Just as in football, two minutes before you die you receive an audible warning: "Two minutes! Get your shit together!" And the reason most people don't know about it is because the only ones who hear it are dead two minutes later. They never get a chance to tell us. But such a warning does exist, and I suggest that when it comes, you use your two minutes to entertain and go out big. If nothing else, deliver a two-minute speech. Pick a subject you feel passionate about, and just start talking. Begin low-key, but, with mounting passion, build to a rousing climax. Finally, in the last few seconds, scream at those around you, "If these words are not the truth, may God strike me dead!" He will. Then simply slump forward and fall to the floor. Believe me, from that moment on, people will pay more attention to you.
  • Mike Austin (unverified)

    Don't forget his work on "Thomas the Train Engine" on OPB...

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    Hope you packed your stuff. ;)

  • Bob (unverified)

    Great Post TJ!

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    how could i forget Thomas!!! my younger son, Jesse, and i watched Shining Time Station daily, along with MisterRogers. having George and/or Ringo as Mr Conductor was so cool. they were both great.

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)

    t. a. barnhart:

    For over 40 years, he called America on its crap

    Bob T:

    I liked how he called the left on its PC crap.

    Anyhow, my favorite is the Indian sergeant.

    Bob Tiernan

  • Mike Schryver (unverified)

    I always liked him, and starting with "You Are All Diseased", he took his act to a new level of insight. We'll miss him.


  • Susan Means (unverified)

    I haven't felt such a terrible sense of loss at the passing of a 20th century iconoclast since John Lennon was killed. George Carlin was caustic, brilliant,and courageous.....and managed to keep his audiences in hysterics for more than forty years. Like Richard Pryor,he was one of a kind and will not be forgotten.

  • Grammar Nanny (unverified)

    As we are hat tipping to a man who loved words, the title should be "7 words or fewer."

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    I remember one Carlin's muses too: Lenny Bruce, yet another of those comic/philosophers like Carlin and Pryor who helped defined at least two generations.

    "I'm completely in favor of the separation of Church and State. My idea is that these two institutions screw us up enough on their own, so both of them together is certain death." -GC

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    He was definitely my favorite narrator for Thomas the Train.

    I remember watching him in my teens - right alongside my parents.

  • David Wright (unverified)

    Major bummer. Carlin was truly one of the very best at what he did.

    Dylan, I'm of your generation and I don't think you fully appreciate the depth of Carlin's earlier material. Nor, apparently, do you appreciate the role of a "comedian" if the clip you put forth is your idea of a load of yuks.

    I'm with T.A. on this one (gotta be a first for everything, right?) -- as he got older, he got more cranky than funny. Dylan's clip is a prime example -- that's not comedy, that's a lecture. I'm not saying that his message was no good, and perhaps as a philosopher he got better with age. He just stopped being a comedian somewhere along the line.

    And the thing is, the baseball/football routine that T.A. posted here manages to work on a lot of levels. I happen to think that it's really, really funny... and if that's as far as you want to go with it, you can stop there. But there's a deeper message, too, part of Carlin's consistent theme about how the use of language shapes how we think (let alone how we often just don't think about the language that we use). Consider his litany of terms associated with each sport, and the contrast in the language as well as the nature of each game. Note also his (erroneous, actually) association of the more violent, territorial, aggressive and technological football being a creature of the 20th century -- reflecting the broader context of that time.

    That was the real genius of Carlin. He could make you laugh and give you something to think about at the same time. And the brilliance of his earlier stuff was that he didn't make you think if you didn't want to, but it was there for the taking if you so chose.

    I expect that was what frustrated him in later times, the fact that so few people actually chose to think about his material.

    Anyhow, this freethinking conservative is gonna miss George Carlin a whole lot. It sucks that he's gone... but don't look at me -- hey, "God's Will!" ;-)

  • Dylan (unverified)

    Arguing about what is better, Carlin's early work or later work, is a little like arguing about whether the Beatles songs were better post-LSD or pre-LSD. There isn't a right answer. Both are amazing in their own way.

    Mr. Wright believes that Carlin's later stuff stopped being funny and got preachy. That's how my parents feel and most of the older Carlin fans I meet would agree. I understand that, but I, along with Carlin himself, enjoy his later stuff more.

    The link I provided above isn't funny in the traditional sense of stand-up comedy but its brilliant. I always find myself frustrated that I spend much of my waking moment outraged by what is going on around me and perpetually annoyed with myself that I can't articulate my feelings in a way that captures my passion and so effectively defines the hypocrisy I see. Then I'd hear Carlin and it is like magic or perfect poetry. He had an amazing ability to distill huge issues (politics, religion, economics) into funny narratives that anyone could understand and that were almost impossible to poke holes in. Whenever I hear his later stuff I always find myself thinking, "Damn! How come I can't ever say anything half as intelligent as this 9th grade dropout?"

    I love Carlin's older stuff (especially "Carlin on Campus" - 1980), but its a lot like other comedians, just better. But his later stuff was and is revolutionary. I know no one else like that. Bill Maher comes sort of close, but that's it.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)

    Vonnegut and Carlin are gone. Who will remind us of our foolishness and make us smile at the same time?

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    well, Tom, nothing personal, but i think all any of us need do is look in the mirror....

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)


    Ah, yes, that's the easy way, but it hurts a bit less when it's generalized to the entire species.

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