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"When you're born, you get a ticket to the freak show. When you're born in America, you get a front-row seat. Oh, and: Shit, Piss, Fuck, Cunt, Cocksucker, Motherfucker and Tits!!!" - George Carlin.

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R.I.P. George (May 12, 1937 – June 22, 2008). George Denis Patrick Carlin (May 12, 1937 – June 22, 2008) was an American stand-up comedian, actor and author who won four Grammy Awards for his comedy albums. Carlin was especially noted for his political and black humor and his observations on language, psychology, and religion along with many taboo subjects. Carlin and his "Seven Dirty Words" comedy routine were central to the 1978 U.S. Supreme Court case F.C.C. v. Pacifica Foundation, in which a narrow 5-4 decision by the justices affirmed the government's right to regulate Carlin's act on the public airwaves. Carlin's most recent stand-up routines focused on the flaws in modern-day America. He often took on contemporary political issues in the United States and satirized the excesses of American culture. He placed second on the Comedy Central cable television network list of the 10 greatest stand-up comedians, ahead of Lenny Bruce and behind Richard Pryor. He was a frequent performer and guest host on The Tonight Show during the three - decade Johnny Carson era, and was also the first person to host Saturday Night Live. Early life and career --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------> George Denis Patrick Carlin was born in New York City, the son of Mary (née Bearey), a secretary, and Patrick Carlin, a national advertising manager for the New York Sun. Carlin was of Irish descent and was raised in the Roman Catholic faith. Carlin grew up on West 121st Street, in a neighborhood of Manhattan which he later said, in a stand-up routine, he and his friends called "White Harlem", because that sounded a lot tougher than its real name of Morningside Heights. He was raised by his mother, who left his father when Carlin was two years old. At age 14 Carlin dropped out of Cardinal Hayes High School and later joined the United States Air Force, training as a radar technician. He was stationed at Barksdale AFB in Bossier City, Louisiana. During this time he began working as a disc jockey on KJOE, a radio station based in the nearby city of Shreveport. He did not complete his Air Force enlistment. Labeled an "unproductive airman" by his superiors, Carlin was discharged on July 29, 1957. In 1959, Carlin and Jack Burns began as a comedy team when both were working for radio station KXOL in Fort Worth, Texas. After successful performances at Fort Worth's beat coffeehouse, The Cellar, Burns and Carlin headed for California in February 1960 and stayed together for two years as a team before moving on to individual pursuits. 1960s In the 1960s, Carlin began appearing on television variety shows, notably The Ed Sullivan Show. His most famous routines were: * The Indian Sergeant ("You wit' the beads... get outta line") * Stupid disc jockeys ("Wonderful WINO...") — "The Beatles' latest record, when played backwards at slow speed, says 'Dummy! You're playing it backwards at slow speed!'" * Al Sleet, the "hippie-dippie weatherman" — "Tonight's forecast: Dark. Continued dark throughout most of the evening, with some widely-scattered light towards morning." * Jon Carson — the "world never known, and never to be known" Variations on the first three of these routines appear on Carlin's 1967 debut album, Take Offs and Put Ons, recorded live in 1966 at The Roostertail in Detroit, Michigan. During this period, Carlin became more popular as a frequent performer and guest host on The Tonight Show during the Johnny Carson era, becoming one of Carson's most frequent substitutes during the host's three-decade reign. Carlin was also cast on Away We Go, a 1967 comedy show. Carlin was present at Lenny Bruce's arrest for obscenity. According to legend the police began attempting to detain members of the audience for questioning, and asked Carlin for his identification. Telling the police he did not believe in government issued IDs, he was arrested and taken to jail with Bruce in the same vehicle. Eventually, Carlin changed both his routines and his appearance. He lost some TV bookings by dressing strangely for a comedian of the time, wearing faded jeans and sporting a beard and earrings at a time when clean-cut, well-dressed comedians were in vogue. Using his own persona as a springboard for his new comedy, he was presented by Ed Sullivan in a performance of "The Hair Piece," and quickly regained his popularity as the public caught on to his sense of style. In this period he also perfected what is perhaps his best-known routine, "Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television", recorded on Class Clown. Carlin was arrested on July 21, 1972 at Milwaukee's Summerfest and charged with violating obscenity laws after performing this routine.[28] The case, which prompted Carlin to refer to the words for a time as, "The Milwaukee Seven", was dismissed in December of that year; the judge declared the language indecent, stating that the language was indecent but cited free speech, as well as the lack of any disturbance. In 1973, a man complained to the FCC that his son had heard a later, similar routine, "Filthy Words", from Occupation: Foole, broadcast one afternoon over WBAI, a Pacifica Foundation FM radio station in New York City. Pacifica received a citation from the FCC, which sought to fine Pacifica for allegedly violating FCC regulations which prohibited broadcasting "obscene" material. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the FCC action, by a vote of 5 to 4, ruling that the routine was "indecent but not obscene" and the FCC had authority to prohibit such broadcasts during hours when children were likely to be among the audience. F.C.C. v. Pacifica Foundation, 438 U.S. 726 (1978). The court documents contain a complete transcript of the routine. The controversy only increased Carlin's fame (or notoriety). Carlin eventually expanded the dirty-words theme with a seemingly interminable end to a performance (ending with his voice fading out in one HBO version and accompanying the credits in the Carlin at Carnegie special for the 1982-83 season) and a set of 49 web pages organized by subject and embracing his "Incomplete List Of Impolite Words". Carlin was the first-ever host of NBC's Saturday Night Live, debuting on October 11, 1975. (He also hosted SNL on November 10, 1984, where he actually appeared in sketches. The first time he hosted, he only appeared to perform stand-up and introduce the guest acts.) The following season, 1976-77, Carlin also appeared regularly on CBS Television's Tony Orlando & Dawn variety series. Carlin unexpectedly stopped performing regularly in 1976, when his career appeared to be at its height. For the next five years, he rarely appeared to perform stand-up, although it was at this time he began doing specials for HBO as part of its On Location series. His first two HBO specials aired in 1977 and 1978. It was later revealed that Carlin had suffered the first of his three non-fatal heart attacks during this layoff period. 1980s and 1990s -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------> In 1981, Carlin returned to the stage, releasing A Place For My Stuff, and he returned to HBO and New York City with the Carlin at Carnegie TV special, videotaped at Carnegie Hall and airing during the 1982-83 season. Carlin continued doing HBO specials every year or every other year over the following decade-and-a-half. All of Carlin's albums from this time forward are the HBO specials. Carlin's acting career was primed with a major supporting role in the 1987 comedy hit Outrageous Fortune, starring Bette Midler and Shelley Long; it was his first notable screen role after a handful of previous guest roles on television series. Playing drifter Frank Madras, the role poked fun at the lingering effect of the 1960s psychedelic counterculture. In 1989, he gained popularity with a new generation of teens when he was cast as Rufus, the time-traveling mentor of the titular characters in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure and reprised his role in the film sequel Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey as well as the first season of the cartoon series. In 1991, he provided the narrative voice for the American version of the children's show Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends, a role he continued until 1998. He played "Mr. Conductor" on the PBS children's show Shining Time Station which featured Thomas from 1991 to 1993 as well as Shining Time Station TV specials in 1995 and Mr. Conductor's Thomas Tales in 1996. Also in 1991, Carlin had a major supporting role in the movie The Prince of Tides along with Nick Nolte and Barbra Streisand. Carlin began a weekly Fox Broadcasting sitcom, The George Carlin Show, in 1993, playing New York City cab driver "George O'Grady". He quickly included a variation of the "Seven Words" in the plot. The show ran 27 episodes through December 1995. In 1997, his first hardcover book, Brain Droppings, was published, and sold over 750,000 copies as of 2001. Carlin was honored at the 1997 Aspen Comedy Festival with a retrospective George Carlin: 40 Years of Comedy hosted by Jon Stewart. In 1999, Carlin played a supporting role as a satirically marketing-oriented Roman Catholic cardinal in filmmaker Kevin Smith's movie Dogma. He worked with Smith again with a cameo appearance in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, and later played an atypically serious role in Jersey Girl, as the blue collar dad of Ben Affleck's character. 2000's ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------> In 2001, Carlin was given a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 15th Annual American Comedy Awards. In December 2003, California U.S. Representative Doug Ose introduced a bill (H.R. 3687) to outlaw the broadcast of Carlin's seven "dirty words", including "compound use (including hyphenated compounds) of such words and phrases with each other or with other words or phrases, and other grammatical forms of such words and phrases (including verb, adjective, gerund, participle, and infinitive forms)". (The bill omits "tits", but includes "ass" and "asshole", which were not part of Carlin's original routine.) The following year, Carlin was fired from his headlining position at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas after an altercation with his audience. After a poorly received set filled with dark references to suicide bombings and beheadings, Carlin stated that he couldn't wait to get out of "this fucking hotel" and Las Vegas in general, claiming he wanted to go back East "where the real people are". He continued to insult his audience, stating: "People who go to Las Vegas, you've got to question their fucking intellect to start with. Traveling hundreds and thousands of miles to essentially give your money to a large corporation is kind of fucking moronic. That's what I'm always getting here is these kind of fucking people with very limited intellects." An audience member shouted back that Carlin should "stop degrading us", at which point Carlin responded "Thank you very much, whatever that was. I hope it was positive; if not, well blow me." He was immediately fired by MGM Grand and soon after announced he would enter rehab for drug and alcohol addiction. For years, Carlin had performed regularly as a headliner in Las Vegas. He began a tour through the first half of 2006, and had a new HBO Special on November 5, 2005 entitled Life is Worth Losing, which was shown live from the Beacon Theatre in New York City. Topics covered included suicide, natural disasters (and the impulse to see them escalate in severity), cannibalism, genocide, human sacrifice, threats to civil liberties in America, and how an argument can be made that humans are inferior to animals. On February 1, 2006, Carlin mentioned to the crowd, during his Life is Worth Losing set at the Tachi Palace Casino in Lemoore, California, that he had been discharged from the hospital only six weeks previously for "heart failure" and "pneumonia", citing the appearance as his "first show back". Carlin provided the voice of Fillmore, a character in the Disney / Pixar animated feature Cars, which opened in theaters on June 9, 2006. The character Fillmore is a VW Microbus with a psychedelic paint job, whose front license plate reads "51237" — Carlin's birthday. Carlin's last HBO stand-up special, It's Bad for Ya, aired live on March 1, 2008 in Santa Rosa, CA at the Wells Fargo Center For The Arts. Many of the themes that appeared in this HBO special included "American Bullshit", "Rights", "Death", "Old Age", and "Child Rearing". Carlin had been working the new material for this HBO special for several months prior in concerts all over the country. On June 18, 2008, four days before his death, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC announced that Carlin would be the 2008 honoree of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor to be awarded in November of that year. Personal life -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------> In 1961, Carlin married Brenda Hosbrook (born June 12, 1939, died May 11, 1997), whom he had met while touring the previous year, in her parents' living room in Dayton, Ohio. The couple had a daughter, Kelly, in 1963. In 1971, George and Brenda renewed their wedding vows in Las Vegas, Nevada. Brenda died of liver cancer a day before Carlin's 60th birthday, in 1997. Carlin later married Sally Wade on June 24, 1998, and the marriage lasted until his death - two days before their tenth anniversary. In December 2004, Carlin announced that he would be voluntarily entering a drug rehabilitation facility to receive treatment for his dependency on alcohol and painkillers. Carlin did not vote and often criticized elections as an illusion of choice. He said he last voted for George McGovern, who ran for President in 1972 against Richard Nixon. Religion -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------> Although raised in the Roman Catholic faith, Carlin often denounced the idea of God in interviews and performances, most notably with his "Invisible Man in the Sky" and "There Is No God" routines. In mockery, he invented the parody religion Frisbeetarianism for a newspaper contest. He defined it as the belief that when a person dies "his soul gets flung onto a roof, and just stays there", and cannot be retrieved. Carlin also joked that he worshipped the Sun, because he could actually see it, but prayed to Joe Pesci (a good friend of his in real life) because "he's a good actor", and "looks like a guy who can get things done!" Carlin also introduced the "Two Commandments", a revised "pocket-sized" list of the Ten Commandments in his HBO special Complaints and Grievances, ending with the additional commandment of "Thou shalt keep thy religion to thyself." Themes -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------> Carlin's themes have been known for causing considerable controversy in the American media. His most usual topic was (in his words) humanity's "bullshit", which might include murder, genocide, war, rape, corruption, religion and other aspects of human civilization. His delivery frequently treated these subjects in a misanthropic and nihilistic fashion, such as in his statement during the Life is Worth Losing show: "I look at it this way... For centuries now, man has done everything he can to destroy, defile, and interfere with nature: clear-cutting forests, strip-mining mountains, poisoning the atmosphere, over-fishing the oceans, polluting the rivers and lakes, destroying wetlands and aquifers... so when nature strikes back, and smacks him on the head and kicks him in the nuts, I enjoy that. I have absolutely no sympathy for human beings whatsoever. None. And no matter what kind of problem humans are facing, whether it's natural or man-made, I always hope it gets worse." Language, from the obscene to the innocuous, had always been a focus of Carlin's work. Euphemisms that seek to distort and lie, and generally the use of pompous, presumptuous and downright silly language are often the target of Carlin's works. Carlin also gave special attention to prominent topics in American Culture and Western Culture, such as: obsession with fame and celebrity, consumerism, Christianity, political alienation, corporate control, hypocrisy, child raising, fast food diet, news stations, self-help publications, patriotism, sexual taboos, certain uses of technology and surveillance, and pro-life, among many others. Carlin openly communicated in his shows and in his interviews that his purpose for existence was entertainment, that he was "here for the show". He professed a hearty schadenfreude in watching the rich spectrum of humanity slowly self-destruct, in his estimation, of its own design; saying, "When you're born, you get a ticket to the freak show. When you're born in America, you get a front-row seat." He acknowledged that this is a very selfish thing, especially since he included large human catastrophes as entertainment. In a late-1990s interview with radio talk show host Art Bell, he remarked about his view of human life: "I think we're already 'circling the drain' as a species, and I'd love to see the circles get a little faster and a little shorter." In the same interview, he recounted his experience of a California earthquake in the early-1970s as: "...an amusement park ride. Really, I mean it's such a wonderful thing to realize that you have absolutely no control... and to see the dresser move across the bedroom floor unassisted... is just exciting." Later he summarized: "I really think there's great human drama in destruction and nature unleashed and I don't get enough of it." A routine in Carlin's 1999 HBO special You Are All Diseased focusing on airport security leads up to the statement: "Take a fucking chance! Put a little fun in your life! ... most Americans are soft and frightened and unimaginative and they don't realize there's such a thing as dangerous fun, and they certainly don't recognize a good show when they see one." Carlin had always included politics as part of his material (along with the wordplay and sex jokes), but by the mid-1980s had become a strident social critic, in both his HBO specials and the book compilations of his material. His HBO viewers got an especially sharp taste of this in his take on the Ronald Reagan administration during the 1988 special What Am I Doing In New Jersey? broadcast live from the Park Theatre in Union City, New Jersey. Death ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------> On June 22, 2008, Carlin was admitted to St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, California after complaining of chest pain. He died later that day at 5:55 p.m. PDT of heart failure at the age of 71. ************************************************************************************************* Comics Remember George Carlin: George Carlin Inspired a Generation of Comedians with His Groundbreaking Humor By CLOE SHASHA June 23, 2008 George Carlin gave more to his fellow comedians, actors and writers than a good laugh. Responding to news of Carlin's death from heart failure at the age of 71, fellow funny men and women spoke about his groundbreaking humor, his brilliant mind, his big heart, and the effect he had on them and their profession. "If there was ever a comedian who was a voice of their generation it was George Carlin," comedian and "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno told ABCNEWS.com. "Before George, comedians aspired to put on nice suits and perform in Las Vegas. George rebelled against that life. His comedy took on privilege and elitism, even railing against the game of golf. He never lost that fire. May he continue to inspire young people never to accept the status quo." "George Carlin was a hugely influential force in stand-up comedy, actor Ben Stiller told ABCNEWS.com. "He had an amazing mind, and his humor was brave, and always challenging us to look at ourselves and question our belief systems, while being incredibly entertaining. He was one of the greats and he will be missed." Comedian Mike Myers, currently starring in "The Love Guru," told ABCNEWS.com: "George Carlin is one of the greatest comedians that ever lived. His irreverence, bravery, and the fact that he was his own man, has served as an inspiration to me and he will be sorely missed." Comedian Jimmy Kimmel concisely expressed his esteem for Carlin. "Free speech never had a better or funnier friend than George Carlin," he told ABCNEWS.com. Jack Burns, who performed in a comedy duo with Carlin, called Carlin a genius. "I will miss him dearly," Burns told the Associated Press. "We were working in Chicago, and we went to see Lenny (Bruce), and we were both blown away. It was an epiphany for George. The comedy we were doing at the time wasn't exactly groundbreaking, and George knew then that he wanted to go in a different direction." Whoopi Goldberg, co-host of "The View," paid tribute to Carlin on Monday's show. "George Carlin was one of the first guys to inspire me that you could actually talk about stuff you knew," Goldberg said. "Him and Rich [Pryor], for me, two of the greats are gone, and I wanted to acknowledge that they're gone." "The View" co-host Joy Behar also said she was affected by Carlin's death. "I just feel terrible when a comedian dies," Behar said. "Especially George Carlin, a wonderful comedian -- a trailblazer and an extremely brave comedian." "The last of the great comics has left us, only to join the great comedy club in the sky," Rain Pryor, Richard Pryor's daughter, told ABCNEWS.com. "I will miss you, Mr. Carlin, as the world missed my father. Give Dad a hug for me!" "Carlin was brilliant," Richard Pryor's writer Paul Mooney told ABCNEWS.com. "The world has lost a genius; the world has lost a mensch." Caroline Hirsch, a comedian on Broadway who produced the show "Caroline's Comedy Hour" and started Caroline's Comedy Club in New York for rising comedians, commented on Carlin's success. "He was so prolific," she told ABCNEWS.com. "He had so many stand-up specials, was just smart, brilliant and really a social commentator of the time. I remember in the 60s -- I mean, that's how I really got hooked on comedy -- he was a major factor in that. And it felt so good to meet this legend years later." "George Carlin was The Beatles of stand-up comedy," Bill Hader, an actor ("Superbad") and comedian on "Saturday Night Live," told ABCNEWS.com. "His influence can be felt in every stand-up comedian today. His jokes were the first act I ever learned. I would spend recess performing it for all my friends." Judd Apatow, a director of comedies, such as "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" and "Knocked Up," recalled his childhood days following Carlin's comedy. "Nobody was funnier than George Carlin," Apatow told ABCNEWS.com. "I spent half my childhood in my room listening to his records, experiencing pure joy. And he was as kind as he was funny." "He was one of the big ones," celebrity comedian Joan Rivers told ABCNEWS.com. "He was fearless in his comedy." ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Carlin's `7 words you can't say on TV': Overheard? By FRAZIER MOORE. NEW YORK (AP) — More than 30 years after George Carlin pronounced "Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television," some of those words have lost their sting. Some of those words still aren't welcome on the public airwaves (or, for that matter, in print) and they are still being debated in the courts. But you can hear those words voiced in everyday discourse more than ever. Carlin, who died Sunday at age 71, observed in his routine: "We have thoughts, but thoughts are fluid. Then we assign a word to a thought and we're stuck with that word for that thought — so be careful with words." Good advice. Carlin's seven words, he would caution ironically, "are the ones that'll infect your soul, curve your spine, and keep the country from winning the war." Or course, times — and wars — have changed. At least one of Carlin's words (a rude term for urine) wouldn't raise an eyebrow on much of broadcast TV now. Meanwhile, none of them is alien to premium cable. For many viewers, hearing those Words You Can't Say On Television being said on television helps make pay cable worth paying for. Those words were heard on television in 1977, on Carlin's first HBO comedy special. They fall into predictable categories: bodily waste; sexual acts (both socially acceptable and frowned upon); and female body parts. "When he used those words he wasn't just trying to shock," said Richard Zoglin, who wrote about Carlin in his recent book, "Comedy at the Edge: How Standup in the 1970s Changed America." "He was trying to make a statement that's familiar today, but wasn't so familiar back then: 'Why do we have this irrational fear of words?'" Of this Magnificent Seven, only one, which refers to the female anatomy, retains the power to jolt nearly anyone within earshot. On an HBO sitcom a couple of years ago, the angry husband used this word to insult his wife. It nearly wrecked their marriage. More tellingly, the studio audience emitted an audible gasp. Premium cable, and even basic cable, have far more freedom with content than broadcast programming, which is carried on public airwaves by stations licensed by the Federal Communications Commission. For broadcast, The Words are actually words the FCC says can't be heard before 10 p.m. — when the "safe harbor" for young viewers applies. But exactly what those words are, and under what circumstances they may be permissible, is currently unclear. "The networks are being careful, because even in this kind of flux, you don't want to push too far," said T. Barton Carter, Boston University professor of communications and law. "Vagueness and inconsistencies in regulation can have a chilling effect on broadcasters." The picture is further muddied by the fact that 80 to 90 percent of viewers get all their programming (from broadcast stations as well as cable networks) through their cable or satellite subscription, Carter added. Different indecency standards apply to channels whose difference is often undetectable to the audience. The uncertain regulatory climate led to PBS distributing two versions of the Ken Burns documentary series "The War" last fall. Stations could choose the original version, or opt for a sanitized version of World War II, one that was free of any Words You'd Be Safer Not Saying On Television. The FCC changed its policy on indecency following a January 2003 broadcast of the Golden Globes awards show by NBC when U2 lead singer Bono uttered the phrase "f------ brilliant." The FCC said the "f-word" in any context "inherently has a sexual connotation" and can trigger enforcement." That case has yet to be resolved. Recently the U.S Supreme Court has entered a legal fight over curse words aired by Fox in 2002 and 2003 on the live broadcasts of "The Billboard Music Awards." Cher used the phrase, "F--- 'em." And Nicole Richie said, "Have you ever tried to get cow s--- out of a Prada purse? It's not so f------ simple." Scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Court this fall, the case would decide whether the government can ban "fleeting expletives," one-time uses of familiar but profane words. Dropping an "f-bomb" on a broadcast won't automatically blast open the floodgates, said Tim Winter, president of Parents Television Council, but he warned, "It's a slow accumulation. First it's once every several months. Then it becomes once a month. Then it becomes once a night." "That's our concern for some of the words that are at issue here," said Winter, who's also an avowed George Carlin fan: "It's unfortunate that a brilliant comedian like George Carlin is a poster child for the lawsuits that are out there."



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