Large image of stand-Up comic George Carlin

George Carlin

Born: May 12, 1937
Death: June 22, 2008
BlueMeter: Dirty

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2016 I Kinda Like It When a Lotta People Die

Posthumous release that includes a unreleased performance from just prior to 9/11/01.

2008 It’s Bad For Ya

Won 2008 Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album

2006 Life Is Worth Losing
2005 The Aristocrats (Original Soundtrack)
2002 George Carlin on Comedy
2001 Complaints and Grievances
1999 The Little David Years: 1971-1977

collects Class Clown, FM & AM, Occupation: Foole, Toledo Window Box, An Evening with Wally Londo Featuring Bill Slaszo and On the Road plus A Bonus Disc

1999 You Are All Diseased
1996 Back in Town
1995 Killer Carlin
1992 Jammin’ in New York

Won the 1993 Grammy Award for Best Spoken Comedy Album

1992 Classic Gold

Collects: FM & AM, Class Clown and Occupation: Foole

1990 The Best Of Comic Relief '90

This album is a compilation, featuring multiple comics.

1990 Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics
1988 What Am I Doing in New Jersey?
1986 Playin’ With Your Head
1985 Best of Comic Relief, Vol. 1

This album is a compilation, featuring multiple comics.

1984 Carlin on Campus
1981 A Place for My Stuff!
1977 On the Road
1975 An Evening with Wally Londo Featuring Bill Slaszo
1974 Toledo Window Box
1973 Occupation: Foole
1972 Class Clown
1972 FM & AM

Won 1972 Grammy Award for Best Comedy Recording

1967 Take-Offs and Put-Ons
1965 The Third DeGarmo Open

A souvenir for attendees of a golf tournament

1963 Burns & Carlin at the Playboy Club Tonight

Reissued as "The Original George Carlin" and then as "Killer Carlin"

Specials (and other video)

2008 George Carlin: It's Bad for Ya
2005 The Aristocrats
2005 George Carlin: Life Is Worth Losing
2003 U.S. Comedy Arts Tribute to George Carlin
2001 George Carlin: Complaints and Grievances
1999 George Carlin: You Are All Diseased
1997 George Carlin: 40 Years of Comedy

Jon Stewart interviews Carlin about his life in Stand-Up

1996 George Carlin: Back in Town
1992 George Carlin: Jammin' in New York
1990 George Carlin: Doin' It Again
1988 George Carlin: What Am I Doing in New Jersey?
1986 Comic Relief

Benefit show that features multiple comics.

1986 George Carlin: Playin' with Your Head
1984 George Carlin: Carlin on Campus
1982 Carlin at Carnegie
1978 George Carlin: Again

AKA: "On Location: George Carlin at Phoenix"

1977 On Location with George Carlin

AKA: "On Location: George Carlin at USC"

Books (by and about)

2011 The George Carlin Letters: The Permanent Courtship of Sally Wade

A look into the personal relationship between Carlin and Sally Wade through Carlin's own correspondence

2010 7 Dirty Words: The Life and Crimes of George Carlin
2009 Last Words: A Memoir

Written with former National Lampoon editor Tony Hendra

1997 Brain Droppings
1984 Sometimes a Little Brain Damage Can Help


Growing up in Manhattan, George Carlin was raised by his single parent - his mother. With his mother at work most of the day, Carlin spent a lot of time out on the streets, going where he wanted. He also spent a lot of time exploring his own creative impulses, his own mind. Both made him a loner - someone who felt outside of society.

Through five decades in comedy, George Carlin did not vary his personal style. He remained a likable monologist able to balance a clowning, zany streak with the sharp-edged wit to dissect words and emotions with cutting irony. Yet through those five decades, Carlin changed emotionally and physically, reflecting the tumultuous shifts in culture and lifestyle from the 50's to the 90's.

He offered engaging nightclub patter in the 50's and early 60's, cheerfully "hippy dippy" humor in the late 60's, more crusading comedy in the 70's, slightly mellowed humor in the early 80's, and then more disillusioned, angry observations into the 90's. Yet through it all, his style remained distinctly and identifiably his own.

Each step of the way Carlin produced gems of monology. There were his early, solid and silly routines from "The Indian Sergeant" ("Cut out the horseplay. You guys playin' with the horse—cut it out!") to Al Sleet, the weatherman who announced: "Tonight's forecast: dark!" These were followed by Lenny Brucian, banned-on-radio routines ("The Seven Words You Can't Say On TV") and gently philosophical and ironic observations ("A Place for My Stuff"). He was also known for comic querelousness, his Andy Rooney-styled questioning of words and phrases: "Undisputed heavyweight champion? Well, if it's undisputed, what's the fighting all about? Selling like hotcakes? Is this the biggest selling item?"

Born in New York City, Carlin grew up the "class clown" After quitting high school and nearly getting tossed out of the Air Force, he became a disc jockey in Louisiana. At 20 he moved on to WEZE in Boston and met comedian Jack Burns. They formed a partnership and eventually came out to California where an impressed Lenny Bruce helped them find work. Some routines were standard (George as a punch-drunk boxer) but others dabbled in the new freedom of "sick" comedy (a TV commercial for the "Lolita Kit" that lets little girls "pick up a little cash after school…")

Carlin went solo in 1962 and soon became a TV regular, known for rubber faced comedy (his first album cover contained dozens of funny faces taken in a subway photo booth) and clean, inoffensive material. In the late 60's, he and another "straight" comic, Richard Pryor, began to pursue comedy in the Lenny Bruce tradition. It began in 1970 when he was fired for using a four letter word in concert at The Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas. A short time later a few satiric comments on the Vietnam War caused a storm at the mainstream Playboy Club. Audience members were hostile and Carlin left; the club unable to guarantee his safety.

Carlin was no longer willing to work in the restrictive casinos and nightclubs of the day. He found his audience at rock concerts. The change liberated his comedy and changed his delivery a bit. Since he had to work huge theaters opening for rock stars, he had to reach the crowd by using a lot of facial and physical cartooning. He noted, "You have to raise your voice above the din to be heard, to get their attention." He also tended to "talk down" to the crowd and acted out phrases ("I sent awaaaaaay for it"). Critics sometimes insisted Carlin's controversial routines (such as "The Seven Words You Can't Say on TV") were a lot milder and cuter than Lenny Bruce. That might have been true, but audiences got the message. So did the authorities who, in a supposedly more liberal age, tried to censor Carlin as they had Bruce.

In 1972 Carlin was arrested in Milwaulkee at an outdoor concert. The police worried that some children might be hearing his comedy. The disorderly conduct charge was later thrown out. When a radio station played a Carlin routine, announcing beforehand that the routine might be objectionable to some people, the FCC fined them. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court and the radio station lost. Carlin continued to perform his "counter-cultural" routines and in the early 70's was supported by enthusiastic fans who bought millions of them (his "AM & FM" and "Class Clown" discs were certified gold in 1973 and "Occupation Foole" went gold in 1976).

Carlin was a tireless stand-up performer through the 70's. In the mid 80's some of the wear and tear began to show. Ironically he and Richard Pryor had similar problems: cocaine abuse and a heart attack. While Pryor made fun of it all on stage, Carlin kept the experience private. He told Ron Smith in 1989, "I feel vaguely embarrassed and presumptuous to present my life and my story as the subject for an evening's entertainment. My imagination is aroused more by the things that are out there in the world that all of us deal with…language has always been a favorite subject for me… I don't find my own story important."

For a time his stand-up turned more aggressive and bitter, with growling routines about the mindless violence of football and even some rare ringsider abuse ("You're wearing an earring, sir? How about a kotex? Are you wearing one of them, too?") What seemed to be eating at him was an unfullfilled desire: "I always wanted to be a movie actor like Danny Kaye. My plan was to become a radio disc jockey first, and then go into nightclubs as a comedian. My theory was, if I was a good enough comedian, they'd have to let me in the movies the way they let him in."

Carlin was able to land his first important role in a movie, a burned-out hippie in "Outrageous Fortune." He later starred in the hit "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure." Whether he made films or maintained his heavy schedule in stand-up, he had enthusiastic audiences waiting. Rather modestly, he simply characterized himself as "just someone who is open to things that surprise and delight and make you wonder; things that are ironic or absurd. I like contemplating silliness."

Though still young, in 1990 Carlin was perceived as "The Grand Old Man of Counterculture" in a New York Times review. TV interviewer Bob Costas asked him, "Do you think you're as funny now as you were in the 70's and 60's?" He answered, "I'm doing my best work. I'm the only one that can ever really be the judge because I do it for myself. The fact that the audience is there is wonderful, but I do it for me. And I'm thinking better than I ever have, my observations I think stand out in better…I'm having more fun with it than I ever have, I know that."