There are not proper words to express the impact he had on the world of comedy – but genius is the first that comes to mind. Carlin continually pushed the envelope, whether it was those nasty words you can’t say on television or why Joe Pesci is just as good a diety to worship as God.
Before I was old enough to watch his R-rated routine, I got my first glimpse of Carlin as Rufus in “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.” Sorry, Keanu Reeve fans, but he was the reason I watched the movie nearly until my VHS tape wore out. His acting was always underrated, as he was about the only bearable part of “Jersey Girl” as Ben Affleck’s father.
I saw the comedian perform live once, a trip he made to Shea’s several years ago that was a make-up date for a previous show that – surprise, surprise – got snowed out. He was preparing material for what was at the time his latest HBO comedy special. He read his new jokes off of index cards he had on his stool, making an acknowledging smile and taking notes any time a joke didn’t work; he didn’t do much writing that night.
The news came as a particular shock because we’d just run in Night & Day a photo with a caption stating he was to receive the 11th annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in November. One second he’s makig them laugh – he had performed as recently as last weekend – and the next he’s gone.
Anyone who has any respect for the stand-up profession should listen to one of his albums or watch one of his specials as soon as possible. Sure, he will make you blush, but you won’t notice because of how hard you’ll be laughing.