That’s what just came out of my mouth upon reading just now that George Carlin has died:
George Carlin, the Grammy-Award winning standup comedian and actor who was hailed for his irreverent social commentary, poignant observations of the absurdities of everyday life and language, and groundbreaking routines like “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television,” died in Santa Monica, Calif., on Sunday, according to his publicist, Jeff Abraham. He was 71.
The cause of death was heart failure. Mr. Carlin, who had a history of heart problems, went into the hospital on Sunday afternoon after complaining of heart trouble. The comedian had worked last weekend at The Orleans in Las Vegas.
Recently, Mr. Carlin was named the recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. He was to receive the award at the Kennedy Center in November. “In his lengthy career as a comedian, writer, and actor, George Carlin has not only made us laugh, but he makes us think,” said Stephen A. Schwarzman, the Kennedy Center chairman. “His influence on the next generation of comics has been far-reaching.”
In recent years, Carlin just hadn’t been as funny as he used to be. I suppose one can’t have as finely honed a shit detector as he had, and use it so expertly for so many years, and have much of it left after the last eight years of the Bush Administration. But no one cut through the bullshit of modern life the way Carlin did.
There’s so much of Carlin’s work that’s embedded itself into my brain. Just last week I was talking to a co-worker about Carlin’s famous “football vs. baseball” musings:
We’re living in a world of hypocrites, idiots, thieves, and morons — and now we don’t even have George Carlin to poke fun at them any more. We don’t have Richard Pryor around to provide much-needed commentary on the race issues in this year’s election. And while he’s alive and well and living in Los Angeles, we don’t even really have Marc Maron around anymore if you live east of the Grand Canyon and can’t fly to the west coast to go to comedy clubs.
And somehow I think that George Carlin, whom I would argue had a lot more cultural impact than Tim Russert did, will merit about thirty seconds on the evening newscast.
Maybe it just isn’t funny anymore.
And because I can’t resist: