George Carlin passed away yesterday at the age of 71. Carlin was an important cultural figure and groundbreaking stand up comedian. Seeing as my site is ostensibly movie related, it should be noted that Carlin also made a small mark in the world of film, with roles in movies such as: Car Wash, the Bill & Ted movies, and random Kevin Smith pictures. He had no pretensions of movie stardom, however. He knew that his place was in front of a microphone, and that's certainly how I'll remember him. As a teenager, few personalities made such an indelible impression on me as Carlin. True, he started doing stand up a few decades before I was born, but his acerbic wit and observations on shared human experiences have remained timeless and wholly relatable. Although I was aware of him as a pop culture figure, I didn't actually hear any of his stand up until I was 16. By that point I had already listened to many of the Carlin influenced comedians, but his work somehow eluded me for many years (what a joy it would be, years later, when I also discovered the work of Bill Hicks). More than anything, it was Carlin's early musings on growing up Catholic that had me enthralled. Coming as I did from a Catholic background, it was a revelation to hear him tear into the underpinnings of the religion. Not that I hadn't already developed doubts at this point, but he said it all more eloquently, and with more wit than I ever could. Indeed, his constant questioning of and attack on all authority; religious, political, business, etc, was just what I needed to hear during those formative teen years. And it didn't hurt that he was funny as hell. Of course, my teenage righteous anger mellowed over the years. But it always did my heart good to know that this cantankerous old man never lost his fury. He will be missed.
Here is one of my favorite Carlin bits: