The more you learn, the more you realise how little you know.
I can’t recall who said that. It was probably Mark Twain, a man who seems to have spent his life talking in wise epithets. Wilde, Henry Ford and Harry Truman seem to have been similarly afflicted. Thus far, Mitt Romney seems completely free of the disease, so Mormon Republicans can allow their joy to be uncontained.
I’ve been laughing at funny men across the Globe since my precociously early adolescence. I think I was about seven at the time. I can’t remember much detail of the period, because most things rational were pushed out of the way by an almost Huxleyan level of pre-pube sexual desire. But I do remember that from Woody Allen onwards, I was the kid in class able to do imitations of comics about whom the other infants knew nothing. There isn’t much of a career to be had imitating the anonymous.
Since roughly 1963 (I was fifteen by then, exhausted and going blind) I have been enjoying the sayings, routines, insights, vignette movie appearances and – as of last night – the YouTube adventures of a very funny and unique American. I did not know until last night however – big hat tips to Sloggers Lupulco and Cedric Ward for pointing it out to me – that these enjoyable interludes were all the responsibility of one man, George Carlin. God forgive me, until I went to Wikipedia, I didn’t even know Mr Carlin had been dead for four years. He died in 2008 of heart failure. I suppose if you drive your heart that hard to try and emotionally convey the difference between sh*t and putty for half a century, that’s what you die of.
The best thing I can say about George Carlin is that he was a guy whose politics I don’t share, but for whose hysterical truths and merciless insights I would’ve killed to amass just a tiny share. I would’ve killed people like, oh, Pol Pot, Mao Tse Tung, Richard Nixon, Emperor Hirohito, Robert Mugabe, Wayne Swan, The Gypsy Kings, Rupert Murdoch and Hugo Chavez. Now that cancer is doing for Senor Chavez anyway, this lifelong practising schizoid Communist is now calling upon someone in whom he doesn’t believe to save him. George would’ve had a field-day with that one.
The thing I am proud to say about a giant like Carlin is that, dead or alive, he stands as the American personification of what The Slog is really about: trying to point out, ridicule, and get rid of people who betray real, responsible liberal democracy with their every deceitful, oxymoronic and slimey distortion of the truth. Towards the end of his life, this man gave a speech at some gathering of Washington journalists. He chose (because he was a highly intelligent stand-up with balls of steel) to stick the ice-pick straight into every heart in the room by showing how ‘media training’ among politicians has helped destroy Anglo-Saxon democracy. And in doing so, he reduced the gathering to helpless yet grateful laughter. It was bravado without ego, and satire without agenda. It was, in short, the comic equivalent of intravenous Sodium Pentothal, the very quintessence of engaging bollocks deconstruction. I urge you to watch it. I challenge you not to laugh your head off.
God Bless America if it can produce enough Carlins to wipe out the Blankfeins.
You can view the full strength George Carlin at this website dedicated to his life and words.