George Carlin, who died in 2008 at the age of 71, was an inspiration to generations of standup comics and comedy writers, like Judd Apatow. The people who speak about Carlin’s influence on their lives is a veritable who’s who of the modern comic industry.
The list includes Biil Burr, Bette Midler, Jerry Seinfeld, Stephen Colbert, Chris Rock, Judy Gold and many, many more.
George Carlin was admired not only for his comedy, but also for his stands on political and social issues. He was a buck the system person who always went after the establishment. Like Lenny Bruce before him, Carlin enjoyed pushing the line and constantly daring anyone to try and stop him.
He was probably best known for his bit about the seven words you can’t say on television. It became so iconic that people actually believed that there was such a list. There wasn’t. Carlin made it up.
Another object of George Carlin’s Ire was religion. Carlin hated it. He was a devout atheist and many of his routines were about the inconsistencies of faith and what is written in the Bible. Religious people – especially Catholics as Carlin was raised as one and the Catholic Church was a favorite target of his – condemned him for being offensive. But anyone secure oin their faith could appreciate his point and his comedy too.
“We were so lucky because he was a bit of a hoarder and so much existed,” Judd Apatow told The New York Post. “We have his parents’ divorce papers from the late ’30s, his discharge papers when he was kicked out of the Air Force … he kept all his love letters, all the Post-it Notes and notebooks of all of his jokes.
“We have audiotapes of him writing routines and also audiotapes of him on cocaine just ranting into a tape recorder,” added Apatow. “That really allowed us to paint a pretty full-blooded picture of who he was.”
“He was a road comic ’til the day he died,” says George Carlin’s daughter, Kelly Carlin, in the film.
Chris Rock adds, “We don’t really have philosophers anymore, but we have comedians.”
Patton Oswalt says of George Carlin, “He de-transformed into who he actually was. It’s that great moment that every comedian wants to get to. Where the person you are off-stage is the person who you are onstage.”