George Carlin – Life Is Worth Losing

George Carlin died June 22nd 2008 and his loss will be felt for a long time. Many of his routines have become classics:

Shoot – FM & AM

Class Clown, I Used to be Irish Catholic, Confessional, Special Dispensation,  Heavy Mysteries – Class Clown  and Classic Gold

7 Words You Can’t Say On Television – Class Clown and Classic Gold

Baseball / Football – An Evening With Wally Londo

Goofy Shit and Toledo Window Box – Toledo Window Box

Death and Dying, Rules Rules Rules – On The Road

A Place For My Stuff – A Place For My Stuff

Carlin changed stand-up comedy forever when he changed his act from a suit-wearing comic to the jeans wearing rebel who found the seven words you can’t say on television.

Carlin often credited his wife Brenda for his success as she was extremely supportive when the comic went from a safe Ed Sullivan type act -as you can hear on Killer Carlin with his sidekick Jack Burns-to the irrevential and boundary pushing comic we all came to know and love.

His first album, Take Offs and Put Ons also shows the early, safe Carlin.

The Hair Piece, as heard on his second release FM & AM (one of two albums released in 1972), was performed on the Ed Sullivan show and put the new version of this stand-up comic back on everybody’s radar. FM & AM also includes echoes of the early Carlin with Ed Sullivan Self-taught, Divorce Game, and Son of Wino.

The absolute classic Carlin CD, Class Clown was released later in 1972 and includes the famous Seven Words You Can’t Say On TV -shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits. Class Clown is also the most autobiographical Carlin album with routines like I Used To Be Irish Catholic, Confessional, Special Dispensation and Heavy Mysteries about his Catholic childhood in White Harlem.

There is no doubt George Carlin was the best comic around in the seventies. Albums like Occupation Foole, An Evening With Wally Londo -with the classic Baseball / Football, Toledo Window Box, Occupation Foole, and On The Road.

Carlin was rather uneven in the eighties and nineties. A Place For My Stuff, Playing With Your Head, Parental Advisory, and Back in Town, and especially You Are All Diseased are not particularly interesting as a whole.

Especially dreadful is Complaints and Grievances where there is very little humor behind the material. Here, Carlin comes across as just an angry old man.

His penultimate release, Life Is Worth Losing redeemed this great American stand-up comic in the eyes of many. This is smart, caustic, and funny stuff

In terms of compilations, Classic Gold, a two CD set that includes Fm & Am, Class Clown, and Occupation Foole is the way to go.

The Little David Years box set is really for hard core fans only. The George Carlin Collection is not worth it compared to Classic Gold.

Carlin also published a few books. Brain Droppings (1997), Napalm and Silly Putty (2001), When Will Jesus Bring the Porkchops? (2004). Porkchops is the better of the three.

Most of Carlin’s HBO specials are quite good. At USC, Carnegie Hall, and On Campus are the best ones.

The comic would have liked the irony of not being around to pick up his Mark Twain Medal.

Carlin once said that at his death he would like to be blown up.


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