I'm sure we all know how George Carlin started out as a mainstream act until he decided to go with the hippies rather than the squares and grew his hair long and started adding swear words to his act. This is all established in the history of Carlin. But what do you think of his final transformation? If you look at George's later work his humor gets a lot more dark than anything he'd done before. For some, this turned him into a grumpy old man. For others he was just taking his provocative style to a whole new level.

Here's my question, do you agree that he got darker and if so was it occasionally too dark? Did he some times come across as less funny and more angry? Did you enjoy his rants because you really thought they were funny or did you like them because you agreed with them? There is no right or wrong answer. We all have our own personal taste and there were different aspects to Carlin's act. It did evolve. A Place For Your Stuff George Carlin is very different from Coast to Coast Emergency George Carlin. So share your feelings.

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Well I don't think that there's such a thing as 'too dark' but I do think he had a slight decline in his old age.
In what way? If you didn't find his later stuff too dark where did you find the decline? For myself, I didn't mind jokes about suicide or enjoying people dying but when he'd go on about how everything you did did not matter it got to be a bit much for me. Too dark might not be the word for it. Godless knows hopelessness can be funny as hell but one 'nothing matters' routine per album or concert was enough for me. He'd some times make it more of the act than my own mindset cared for.
I suppose I think that he was either too dark or not dark enough. If you're going to tell jokes about suicide and enjoying people dying, it can work, but you have to go so over the top it's absurd. He fell just short.
Yes I agree his act became more and more serious. He says that he has an archive of observations wrote down, and filed according to his mood. He has obviously thought without bias to have evolved the way he did.

I enjoyed his thoughts because I agreed with most of them, and most of the time he was hillarious, maybe not what he said but the way he said it. I mean, I could NEVER seriously laugh about the destruction of the entire world and all it people, unless like others, my life is so hectic and strung out, that we laugh at just about anything....

The one thing I noticed early on is that the vast majority of comedians joke about serious matters, errors, things that they themselves find really messed up, they turn them into jokes, they release the joke, their most serious or most offensive of all, they get a huge laugh frome a full-house, I have seen an expression on more than one comedians face that told me he would rather not have gotten such a big laugh from that particular joke. Think of it...if you were a comedian, that is really the only place that you can consistantly speak about the most fucked up aspects of society, of the world, to a live audience.

I grew up (14/15yrs old) listening to Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Steve Martin, and to me Carlin has always been a philosophical comedian. To be taken seriously, he made me laugh on the inside and out... and THINK TOO! ;^)
Y'know, his darker turn seemed like a logical progression to me. He always used comedy and language to penetrate and try to understand the human condition, and his career seems like a series of steps through that process. The problem was that the more steps he took, the unhappier it became (which I think still made for great, biting comedy).

His career actually reminds me a lot of Jonathan Swift, who went through a similar transformation. Even though Swift was the Dean of St. Patrick's in Dublin, it's arguable that by the end of his career Swift thought god was at least twisted and mad. You can get this in the last book of Gulliver's Travels; he was the first to use the word "Yahoo," and it was an adaptation/portmanteau of Yahweh (Swift knew Hebrew, not that you'd need to know Hebrew to know Yahweh). But Swift's Yahoos are violent, depraved, ape-like humans who throw shit at each other -- we've really lost the sense of the word today.

Swift basically comes to think of god as a savage, and he writes this while working in a high position in the church. It's no wonder he died mad.

Also reminds me of Mark Twain.
Well, you might be thinking of Lenny Bruce. I think Carlin was only busted twice. Only one of those for what he said. The Supreme Court ruling was about a bit of his being broadcast over the radio air waves. He didn't actually get arrested or anything but I get where you're coming from.
Lenny Bruce is key to this discussion. Without Lenny - Richard Pryor and George would've been in different territory. I see a 'torch' being carried.

Also, there seems to be a strange, self-destructive aspect to being a truly great comedian. What I mean is - it must be akin to being a veteran of a war or something after awhile. Really important comedy makes use of the fact that if you combine humor with difficult to look at truth, you can actually open people's eyes.

Lenny practically stopped worrying about the humor part and just tried to tell the truth after awhile. I think that is what finally did him in. He was pretty fearless - even when he was terrified.

Imagine, though, being George - going out onto a stage in front of - who knows who. Really, the only thing you can get close to being sure of is that they paid money and expect to be made to laugh. Not a lot to go on. Now - if they came to see you in particular - well, there's a little more to go on. Or if you know the humor of the person they did come to see - you get my drift.

Anyway, imagine how personal a sense of humor is at the end of the day. Jokes are about someone getting hurt or being put in an awkward position. There is usually discomfort, at the very least, involved in effective humor. So, to pursue that discomfort in the religion, customs, morals, mores, etc. of society (hint: society is made up of people not unlike the people in the audience) well, that takes balls. Sure, you can make fun of women in front of men, blacks in front of white bigots, whites in front of black bigots, whatever. That is pretty cheap. Or you can tell fart jokes, dick jokes, etc. in front of people with dicks who fart, also - whatever. But tell jokes about god to someone who prays? And do it in a way so they laugh? That is true genius. It is also a hell of a high wire act.


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