I’m not sure when it was, but a few years back my sister and I went to see George Carlin perform up in D.C. This was right after his stint in rehab, and it was obvious that George wasn’t quite as sharp as he would’ve been if he’d come to us from another leg of his tour, all practiced, jokes honed, timing perfected and ready to entertain. Still, a slightly dull-edged George Carlin is funnier than anything you’ll find on late night cable. (I tried to think of a “with the exception of” statement to follow that last sentence, but really? Late night cable sucks. I think I laugh harder at repeats of Friends. It’s time Jay Leno brought his battlebot back.)
This past Christmas I ended up being “gifted” with a George Carlin daily calendar (An Orgy of George) from a friend who’s not so keen on ol’ George’s humor. I like listening to George because I enjoy plain, clever speak. I like that some of his stuff is rather blunt and/or crude, and I like that he will pose exploratory questions on themes such as suicide, the news media, the 10 most wanted criminals and American society. I like that he is smart enough to play with vocabulary and to twist the definitions of words or to derive new meaning from established words.
Here are some of my favorite Georgisms from this year’s dailies… Ones that made me laugh out loud and hold onto them so I could revisit them over and over. Go ahead! Read ’em and decide for yourself if you like George:
“Elevators and escalators do more than elevate and escalate. They also lower. The names tell only half the story.”
“In ancient times, the rulers had magnificent names: Alexander the Great. Suppose he had been a less imposing figure, do you think he would have been called Alexander the Marginal? As it is, he had his detractors. You know, people who call him Alexander the Scumbag.”
“When the supermarket checkout person asks, ‘Paper or plastic?’ I often say, ‘Woven silk,’ just to keep him on his toes.”
“I had an interesting morning; I got into an argument with my Rice Krispies. I distinctly heard, ‘Snap, crackle, fuck you!’ I’m not sure which one of them said it; I was reaching for the artificial sweetener at the time and not looking directly into the bowl.”