I have to admit, I feel a little bad not mentioning the death of Jane McGrath yesterday -- given that it's (somewhat) cricket-related -- to then come back today and write about another death, this one not even remotely cricket-related.
George Carlin died of heart failure earlier today, at age
He was a comedy legend, an icon of free speech, and an incalculable influence on my own -- and Outside the Line's -- voice and sensibility.
Carlin came in many incarnations -- all of them different, all of them memorable. To boomers, he was the countercultural hero of the Seven Dirty Words; to Gen Xers, he was Rufus from Bill & Ted's; and to the rest of us, he was just that really funny old guy with the HBO specials and the cameos in Kevin Smith movies.
We've already posted some of his material on the site before, and now I'm not sure what clip to choose to commemorate him. Since this is supposed to be a sports blog of sorts, I guess we could go for his take on sports. Or we could go for his most culturally relevant piece, the infamous Seven Words routine. (Or, because I bet he would've liked us to, any one of his many attacks on religion.)
But I think we'll go with my favourite bit of all: his extended riff on the planet, at the end of his 1992 special, Jammin' In New York.
I think I like it because it's really not that funny, as far as laughs-per-minute go. It's strange to see that in a standup special. Standup comedians, for those who don't know, are spectacularly insecure and needy creatures, constantly demanding approval of some sort; and if they don't receive any applause or laughs every few seconds in their shows, they start getting antsy, pandering to the crowd, leaning on old standards just to get their fix.
Carlin had the patience to go without laugh line for a couple of minutes here, building up his argument slowly, letting it flow organically, and ultimately leading it to a cathartic (and, to my mind, enlightened) conclusion. It just doesn't get any better. RIFP, George.