Not Very Funny

I’m sick of losing the good ones. Bo Diddley, Jim McKay, Tim Russert — like those guys aren’t going to be missed enough, while Cheney and Rove and their like are still sliming around without their souls — but George Carlin? What is this? THIS ISN’T FUNNY.

I love comedians. Some of my earliest memories are of sitting in front of the TV late at night with my parents, watching Johnny Carson, or (and sometimes even better) whoever his guest host might be, all of us laughing ourselves silly. We’d say, as the sky darkened or as one of us began yawning, “Don’t fall asleep — Bill Cosby’s hosting tonight.” That would perk me right up. I loved Bill as much as Johnny. See? I was on a first name basis with both of them!

I fell in love with Steve Martin, whether he was on Carson (as we referred to “The Tonight Show”) or on Saturday Night Live, from Yortuk Festrunk the Wild and Crazy Guy to Theodoric of York, Medieval Barber. I laughed helplessly every time I saw John Belushi appear onstage as the Samurai and whenever Jane Curtin and Dan Aykroyd went at each other during “Point/Counterpoint.” I thought Richard Pryor was funny until I saw Eddie Murphy for the first time — I had no idea who Gumby was but it didn’t matter, and the Assassination of Buckwheat made me snicker out loud just remembering it, this minute.

Joan Rivers was funny (really — yeah, honestly, but it was a long, long time ago) but Elayne Boosler was hilarious.

I would leave John for Harry Anderson, whether he was doing magic on SNL (remember when he ate the live guinea pig?) or starring in my favorite sitcom ever, “Night Court.” Sorry, John, but you can’t blame me.

I wanted to throw stuff off the roof with Letterman on a weeknight. I wanted to hang out after school with the Huxtables. I was proud whenever strangers mistook my dad for Steve Martin, which happened almost weekly in the ’80s.

I fell in love/lust with Denis Leary the first time I heard him sing the Asshole Song.

And now George Carlin is gone. He was the only comedian I’ve ever seen on tour outside a comedy club, and I remember his opening routine was on the Airport Security Questions: “Did I pack my bag myself? No, my friend Abdul offered to do that for me.” After 2001, I thought wistfully that he’d have to retire that routine. Not to worry. A friend who saw him a year later said he was now riffing on the humor of suicide. I had been a fool to think the likes of Carlin could ever lose his edge.

He’s also the first person I’ve ever seen in concert who has died, which is a hard slap of reality. I’m under no illusions that B.B. King and Eric Clapton and the Stones will live forever… OK, maybe the Stones will. I hope they do, actually. But Carlin was one of the most alive people I’ve ever seen. It was like the room hummed when he was in it, although he’d probably say that’s just because I’ve seen too many fucking concerts and my ears are wrecked.

Damn it, George, I hope you’re hanging out with that invisible man who lives in the sky right now. I miss you already. It’ll be a while before the seven words are fun any more.

OK, a short while.  But I still miss you, man.

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11 Responses to “Not Very Funny”

  1. Daners Isadora a.k.a. Busty St. Clair Says:

    I love George Carlin. And he will be missed. As will Tim Russert. Who will give hard hitting, poignant interviews now?

    Ah, Denis Leary. One man I will watch a show just because he is on it. And buy DVD’s of his TV series’. The Job? Rescue Me? I own em all. And Suicide Kings? He was brilliant in it. Buskit!

    The Stones will live forever. I just know it.

  2. Oh, I miss Carlin soooo much. He was my favorite. His comedy was spot on, philosophical, cerebral, and just so damn funny. Whether it was a routine or a one liner, he had it DOWN. Some of my favorites include

    “… and now an announcement from the National Apple Institute… F*CK PEARS!!!”

    “… did you ever notice how you never seem to get laid on Thanksgiving? That’s because all the coats are on the bed!”

    He may be gone from this life, but IMHO, he’s achieved immortality.

    Steve Martin, FTW! I saw him at Knott’s Berry Farm with my Mom when I was all of 4 years old which would have made it 1972. He was starring in a melodrama and played all the parts… I remember my Mom saying “that guy is going to be big someday!” No kidding! Did you notice that he is one of the few guys that seems to get better looking as he gets older? I think he’s got a picture aging in his closet… hehehe…

  3. OK, I might get crucified for saying this….

    George Carlin did a routine once where he used the “n” word. He was making a point about language, but everyone in the audience (probably a bunch of frat boys) started cheering wildly. They didn’t get it, they were just thrilled that he used the word.

    I never really felt comfortable with Carlin after that.

    Maybe I’ll write a post.

  4. tigereye Says:

    Damn — I’ve never heard that story. Did Carlin call them on it? It seems like he would’ve shredded them for it. I’m disappointed if he didn’t.

  5. tigereye Says:

    Also, if anybody ever crucified a friend of mine on my page, they’d be fucking sorry.

  6. Wanda, I think that’s understandable, and I get whatever the cat leaves.

    That said, just the sound of his voice can take me back 25 years.

  7. My boss and I almost had a heart attack today when we saw an online article entitled, “‘Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure’ Star Dies.”

    Yeah, because that’s his legacy.

  8. tigereye Says:

    By the way, if you’re reading this, Steve Martin, it means now you HAVE to live forever.

  9. pandemonic Says:

    Damn. It sucks getting old.

  10. bigcocky Says:

    You’d leave me for Judge Stone?

  11. tigereye Says:

    Well, I’m sorry, sweetie, but Judge Stone can do magic tricks and you can’t.

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