Noted for his black comedy on topics like politics, the English language, psychology, religion and many taboo subjects. A routine on censorship called The Seven Dirty Words” became subject of a Supreme Court case F.C.C. v. Pacifica Foundation. The 5-4 decision sadly affirmed government regulation of the airwaves. He is considered one of the greatest and most influential comics of all time. He filmed 14 HBO specials. In the late 80’s he began focusing on criticism of American society. Carlin hosted the first episode of SNL. He was post-humously awarded the Mark Twain Award for American Humor.
George was Irish and Catholic. He rejected his Catholicism and played an excellent role in Dogma as Cardinal Glick. His mother left his father due to alcoholism. Carlin appreciated his mother’s ability to get what she wanted with the Egnlish language but often ran away from home. He was concieved born and raised in NYC. Carlin had a troubled record in school. Eventually joining the Air Force as a radar tech he began DJing and was considered unproductive by his superiors. After numerous court martials and nonjudicial punishments he was discharged.
Carlin teamed up with comedian George Burns and they were a hit in the beat scene. They recorded an album at KDAY studios where Carlin asked for his Hollywood Star to be placed. Separating on good terms to pursue separate careers Carlin began to play characters on TV variety shows. He recorded an album Take Offs and Put Downs in 1966. He began to get TV exposure and became a regular on The Tonight Show and became Johnny Carson’s most go-to substitute. Carlin was at a show Lenny Bruce was arrested for Obscenity, look him up if you haven’t heard of that comedy legend, when police asked audience members for ID Carlin said he did not believe in government issued ID and was also arrested, taken to jail in the same vehicle as Bruce. Carlin made enough money to have a private jet.
Carlin reinvented himself, initial seen as conventional appearing in a suit and short hair to faded jeans, long hair and earrings, against the norm. He soon caught on. His new album in 1972 FM & Am references his new, FM, vs his old AM style and marked his shifted from mainstream to counterculture, analyzing the word shit, talking about weed, birth control, etc. This is when he perfected the Seven Dirty Words routine and was arrested for obscenity. The charge was dismissed so long as there was no disturbance. An FCC complaint from his radio broadcast Operation Foole. The FCC ruled against Carlin “the routine was “indecent but not obscene” and FCC can regulate to protect the children.
This increased his fame, expended the list to a “incomplete list of Impolite Words” in his HBO special Carling at Carnegie. Midway during Operation Foole Carlin is notified he won a Grammy for FM & AM and responded “Shit!” before announcing it to the audience.
In the 80’s his acting career took off, as the mentor in the Bill & Ted movies, as Mr. Conductor on a PBS kids show Shining Time Station and narrating segments of Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends replacing Ringo Starr, also Mr. Conductor in later variants of the show. He later had a show on Fox The George Carlin Show. He was happy when it got cancelled for taking away form his career.
Carlin had neglected business affairs and issues with the IRS, saying he is not bitter about paying taxes and takes responsibility. He was happy with it in effect made him a better comic, writer and actor. He received a lifetime achievement award at the American Comedy Awards in 2001. In 2003 a California congressman tried unsuccessfully to outlaw a version of Carlin’s “Seven Dirty Words” from broadcast. He died in 2008 with 18 comedy albums, 4 audiobooks, and 14 HBO specials. He had four Grammys among other awards.
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