Tag Archives: George Carlin

Furlough week, Day 4: The news

Our mantra this week: If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane.

It’s been a long day. A road trip with my dad, who is 86. Three hours down, six hours visiting, three hours back.

It’s time for …

“The 11 O’Clock News,” George Carlin, from “FM & AM,” 1972. Recorded live at the Cellar Door in Washington, D.C., in late June 1971.

This is Carlin’s third record, but the first on which he starts to move from mainstream comedian to caustic counterculture observer.

This is one of my favorite Carlin bits, complete with Al Sleet, the hippy-dippy weather man, and a partial score.

It’s one my dad and I heard Carlin do on television back then, and one we still could enjoy together today. You can’t say that for some of the Carlin bits that followed. Only one of us dug those.


Filed under March 2012, Sounds

What’s that in your pocket?

America’s pent-up passion for football is about to explode.

You feel it every day when you live in the shadow of Lambeau Field. You feel it this weekend as college football starts. Some of it remains simply a love of the game. But not much.

That passion for football, be it the NFL or college football, is increasingly driven by equal parts marketing, gambling and fantasy leagues. Even the TV and radio talking heads are geeked up.

Is that a microphone in your pocket or are you happy to see me?

This week, we’re getting our close-up. Right here in the shadow of Lambeau Field, it’s the NFL Kickoff Weekend, starring Kid Rock, Lady Antebellum and Maroon 5! Oooh, Matt Lauer and Al Roker will be live from here, too! Oooh, Jay Leno is going to talk about us in his monologue!

It is, in the eyes of one David Fantle, the deputy secretary of tourism in Wisconsin, “almost like a mini-Super Bowl.” Then he added:

“It’s invaluable. It’s the kind of exposure you can’t buy
— or you can’t afford to buy.”

Is that a brat in your pocket or are you happy to see me?

I wonder what Vince Lombardi would think of all this. His teams won championships, then opened the next season with little more than a baton twirler and a marching band. That was a different time, of course.

I also wonder what George Carlin would think of all this.

“Baseball-Football,” George Carlin, from “An Evening With Wally Londo Featuring Bill Slaszo,” 1975.

Baseball isn’t so innocent anymore, either, but Carlin’s take still goes a long way toward exposing the absurdity of what we’re seeing this week. That this was spoken in March 1975 and still holds true is testament to Carlin’s genius.


Filed under September 2011, Sounds

Farewell, George

Death won’t silence George Carlin. That, for those of us who remain, is a good thing.

We’ll always have his intelligence, his irreverence and his outrage, all preserved on the media of the moment.

Word that he’d passed didn’t strike me as particularly surprising. His health had seemed precarious in recent years. Perhaps I noticed it more because he canceled a show we’d planned to see a couple of years ago. We never did get to see him.

George Carlin always summons some bittersweet memories. I grew up watching Johnny Carson with my dad in the late ’60s and early ’70s. Some fathers and sons play catch. We watched Carson.

When Carlin’s routines veered from the mainstream to the counterculture, Dad no longer thought Carlin was all that funny. It was partly a generational thing, and partly Dad’s naivete about comedy. (For example, Dad also was dismayed to find out Buddy Hackett cleaned up a rather foul-mouthed routine for all those Carson appearances.)

The problem was, I found Carlin plenty amusing. Then along came Richard Pryor, whom I found even more amusing. And that is how fathers and sons start to grow apart, or at least how sons start to become their own man.

There’s more Pryor than Carlin in my collection, and I’ve always been on the lookout for more Pryor, not more Carlin.

Perhaps I should rethink that. There always are copies of “Class Clown” and “FM and AM” in the dollar bins at our local used record store. Perhaps I should get them and introduce Carlin to our 13-year-old son. After all, I was younger than that when George Carlin started influencing my sense of humor.

Here, then, is a classic Carlin bit that’s acceptable to Dad, appropriate for Evan and one of my faves:

“Baseball-Football,” George Carlin, from “An Evening with Wally Lando,” 1975.

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Filed under June 2008, Sounds