He was the Lenny Bruce for a slightly younger generation -- only, I would say, funnier than Lenny, and he lasted much longer than either Bruce or the late great Bill Hicks.
It's actually remarkable that George Carlin lived to be 71, given his lifestyle in his younger years. And just as amazing is how he got better and better. I'm so cheap that I rarely pay the full price of a new hardback book, but I happily paid it for what was arguably Carlin's crowning achievement as a humorist, When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops? (2004) That alone earned him his posthumous Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.
George's facility with language was far superior to mine, so I'll pay tribute with some quotes from him, courtesy of imdb.com:
Most people are not particularly good at anything.
If someone loves you and they leave and don't come back, it was never meant to be. If someone loves you and they leave and come back, set them on fire.
When evolution is outlawed, only outlaws will evolve.
Honesty may be the best policy, but it's important to remember that apparently, by elimination, dishonesty is the second-best policy.
Heart disease has changed my eating habits, but I still cook bacon for the smell.
I'm completely in favor of the separation of church and state. My idea is that these two institutions screw us up enough on their own, so both of them together is certain death.
I have as much authority as the Pope, I just don't have as many people who believe it.
[March 1997] We use up words like "spiritual" so fast in this culture. Twenty years ago "spiritual" had a distinct meaning. But now there's a lot of jack-off thinkers who just love to talk about the spiritual. And there is a lot of bogus -- is "bogosity" a word? It should be -- a lot of bogosity in these spiritual seekers. So you have to find another way to express it. I just call it "how I fit.
I think it's the duty of the comedian to find out where the line is drawn and cross it deliberately.
I would never want to be a member of a group whose symbol was a guy nailed to two pieces of wood.
I'm not afraid of heights, I'm just afraid of falling from them.
To be intoxicated is to feel sophisticated, but not be able to say it.
The main reason Santa is so jolly is because he knows where all the bad girls live.
Do infants enjoy infancy as much as adults enjoy adultery?
Some national parks have long waiting lists for camping reservations. When you have to wait a year to sleep next to a tree, something is wrong.
Don't confuse my point of view with cynicism. The real cynics are the ones who tell you that everything's gonna be all right.
Dusting is a good example of the futility of trying to put things right. As soon as you dust, the fact of your next dusting has already been established.
Frisbeetarianism is the belief that when you die, your soul goes up on the roof and gets stuck.
The very existence of flamethrowers proves that sometime, somewhere, someone said to themselves, "You know, I want to set those people over there on fire, but I'm just not close enough to get the job done".
Standing ovations have become far too commonplace. What we need are ovations where the audience members all punch and kick one another.
Thanks, George, for all the laughs, and the wisdom. -- MJ