George Carlin (1937-2008) was an American comedian who made a permanent name for himself in the annals of comedy, mostly for making funny all the things that usually make us go Dude, Not Funny
After a failed stint in the U.S. Air Force and a brief time in radio and news he mostly became a lifelong comedian, initially partnering up with writer/comedian Jack Burns. However, after the two broke up in the late 1960s, Carlin entered the 1970s as a new comedian. A DIRTY COMEDIAN. That said, he also played "Mr. Conductor" on Shining Time Station (a children's show), as well as a stint as the Narrator, so he wasn't completely Child Unfriendly. He is also well known for playing Rufus in the Bill and Ted movies and Cardinal Glick in Dogma (which Kevin Smith put him in and which he agreed to appear in mostly so that they could make fun of "the kind of asshole who'd bless his golf clubs for a better game"). Over the course of his life he acted in some fourteen odd films in total, in addition to numerous television appearances spanning everything from The Simpsons to Welcome Back Kotter and several commercials. He also hosted Saturday Night Live's premiere episode on October 11th, 1975 .
His comedy was focused on accentuating the negative, and poked much fun at the You Fail Logic Forever aspects of American culture, especially regarding politics and religion. He also made jokes about subjects usually considered unfunny, such as torture, rape, genocide, etc. This was actually done on purpose, as he later Lampshaded, to prove that we humans weren't much different from our more barbaric progenitors. That is, he wanted to show that if those things were entertaining then, they would be now - and, judging by the audience's laughter, they were.
Despite dropping Cluster F Bombs a lot, he was a very erudite man, who would peruse the media and the Internet for ideas for his comedy, even encouraging people to do the same for their own cultural and educational benefit. Combined with his disgust for the over insulation of our society from the harshness of reality and its own paranoias over its most minor social issues, one could possibly take his Refuge in Audacity/Refuge in Vulgarity laden humor as an attempt to broaden social awareness.
He also changed the FCC's rules on obscenity. After the "Seven Dirty Words You Can Never Say on Television" routine, it's amusing to note that the FCC has more or less modified its policies towards the times when obscenity can be put on the airwaves and what is considered child unsafe around the time of this skit. He is also indirectly responsible for Pay-per-View, which was the logical conclusion on making audiences of obscene content self selective.
In his later years, he became more caustic and crude (partially due to relaxed social standards and partially due to age), and he struggled repeatedly with alcohol and vicodin addictions.
In 2008, he died of heart failure. He was given several awards both during his life and posthumously for his contributions to comedy.
A Sortofbiography(obviously written before his death) of Carlin was released on November 10th, 2009, which Carlin wrote with the assistance of Tony Hendra, one of the original writers of the National Lampoon magazine. After Carlin's death, Hendra approached the late comedian's family with his plans for the book. The audio version was narrated by George's brother Patrick, who is an author himself, and sounds so much like George, it's scary.
As he was well-known for his great writing, expect to find many quotes taken directly from the man himself.
- Acceptable Targets: Plenty, but mainly Organised Religion and the American government.
- He was famous for considering everything an Acceptable Target. In the intro to Brain Droppings, one of his books, he says that he hates every single group and religion (except for the music) and ideal in the world; the fact that he tends to have more material on one or another is simply a factor of that one group making itself more of a target.
George Carlin: Your birth certificate is proof of guilt!
- Aggressive Categorism: Carlin love to do this in his rants. For comedic effect, of course.
- An Aesop: Often a basis for his own sketches; he even namechecks the "sour grapes" tale in an audiobook.
- American Dream: In his second to last HBO special, he remarked that "it's called the American dream 'cause you have to be asleep to believe it."
- The Aristocrats: Told a version of the joke in the movie, going so far as to describe in great detail the fecal matter used in his rendition.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: In a rant about what God has failed to prevent:
"War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades."
- And "tits" on the Seven Dirty Words, at least to him.
- In one of his books he mentions a news story of two men who were arrested for forcing a little boy to smoke, drink, and perform oral sex on them.
"Can you imagine? Smoking!"
- Artistic License Statistics:
- Apparently praying to anyone answered 50% of his prayers. So it is either this trope, or he spent a lot of time praying for things like 'land on tails'.
- In one routine, he says something to the order of, "look at how stupid the average person is, and realize that half of them are stupider than that!"
- In fairness, the word "average" in ordinary language is ambiguous: it usually means "mean," but it could mean "median," in which case he would be correct, assuming that the median human being is in fact kinda stupid. On the other hand, the stupidity of the median human being is another question entirely.
- Well, half of the population is more stupid than the median, regardless of just how stupid that is.
- Except for some rare occasions where the median is also the mode. At any rate, the mean below the median can be much closer to the median, than the mean above the median, in which case, the stupid half is not all that stupid. Usually in life, like in my high school chemistry class, there's one lazy screw-up at the bottom of the curve.
- At Least I Admit It (Said in regards to his tendencies to do things For the Evulz)
- Also his theory about how Bill Clinton got re-elected: Unlike Dole, he told people how full of bullshit he was, and the people voted for him because
"At least he's honest about being completely full of shit!"
- Badass Beard: One of his books also gave tips on how to maintain one too.
"Here's my beard, ain't it weird? Don't be skeered, it's just a beard. People were thrown off by that word, beard. Not American-sounding. Beard. Lenin had a beard. Gabby Hayes had whiskers."
- Badass Old Fuck: In this case, fuck actually means fellow.
- But you still can't say it on television.
- Bald of Awesome: Developed this towards the end.
- Also went after white guys who shaved their heads. "If you wanna be bald, do what I did: wait a while!"
- Batter Up: He once implicitly threatened to bash his daughter's abusive boyfriend's head in with a bat.
- This is also how he claims Joe Pesci solved his problem regarding a neighbor's noisy dog, thus doing a better job than God in the problem-solving department.
- Black Comedy: A master. Arguably one of the best examples is his material on suicide in Life is Worth Losing, where he monologues as though he were planning to kill himself and discussed when, where and how to do it--and it was hilarious. The suicide note for example.
"'To thom it may concern'...eh, sounds kinda impersonal...'Dear Marzele'...nah, leaves out the kids. I know! 'Hey guys, guess what? Keep on readin'! How are you? I hope you are fine. I am not fine, as you can no doubt tell by me hanging here from the ceiling fixture. You were the ones who drove me to this. I was doin' just fine until you fuckers came along. I hope you're happy now that I'm goddamn dead. Signed, the corpse in this room. P.S.--fuck you people!'"
- Black Comedy Rape: He had several hilarious bits related to rape.
Oh, some people don't like you to talk like that. Oh, some people like to shut you up for saying those things. You know that. Lots of people. Lots of groups in this country want to tell you how to talk. Tell you what you can't talk about. Well, sometimes they'll say, well you can talk about something but you can't joke about it. Say you can't joke about something because it's not funny. Comedians run into that shit all the time. Like rape. They'll say, "You can't joke about rape. Rape's not funny." I say, "Fuck you, I think it's hilarious! How do you like that?" I can prove to you that rape is funny. Picture Porky Pig raping Elmer Fudd! Well, why do you think they call him Porky?. I know what you're going to say. "Elmer was asking for it. Elmer was coming on to Porky. Porky couldn't help himself, he got a hard-on, he got horny, he lost control, he went out of his mind." A lot of men talk like that, like it's the woman's fault...These guys think women ought to go to prison for being cockteasers. Don't seem fair to me. Don't seem fair at all...but you can joke about it. I believe you can joke about anything. It all depends on how you construct the joke. What the exaggeration is. What the exaggeration is. Because every joke needs one exaggeration. Every joke needs one thing to be way out of proportion. Give you an example. Did you ever see a news story like this in the paper? Every now and then you run into a story, says, "some guy broke into a house, stole a lot of things and while he was in there, he raped an 81 year old woman." And I'm thinking to myself, "WHY??? What the fuck kind of a social life does this guy have?" I want to say, "Why did you do that?" "Well, she was coming on to me. We were dancing and I got horny. Hey, she was asking for it, she had on a tight bathrobe." I'll say, "Jesus Christ, be a little fucking selective next time will you?" Now, speaking of rape, do you know what I wonder? I wonder is there more rape at the equator or the north pole. These are the kind of things I think about when I'm sitting home alone and the power goes out. I wonder is there more rape at the equator or the north pole. I mean per capita, I know the populations are different. Most people think it's the equator, I think it's the north pole. People think it's the equator because it's hot down there, they don't wear a lot of clothing, guys can see women's tits, they get horny and there's a lot of fucking going on. That's exactly why there's less rape at the equator. Because there's a lot of fucking going on! You can tell there's a lot of fucking at the equator, take a look at the population figures. Billions of people live near the equator. How many Eskimos do we have? Thirty? Thirty five? No one's getting laid at the north pole, it's too fucking cold! Guys say to their wives, "Hey, tonight honey, huh, tonight, huh?" "Are you crazy? The wind chill factor is three hundred below!" These guys are deprived. They're horny. They're pent up. Every now and then they bust out, they got to rape somebody. Now, the biggest problem an Eskimo rapist has: trying to get wet leather leggings off a woman who's kicking. Did you ever try to get leather pants off of someone who doesn't want to take them off? You would lose your hard-on in the process. Up at the north pole, your dick would shrivel up like a stack of dimes! That's another thing I wonder. I wonder, does a rapist have a hard-on when he leaves the house in the morning, or does he develop it during the day while he's walking around looking for somebody. These are the kind of thoughts that kept me out of the really good schools.
George Carlin: Man... men...males have pushed the technology that just about has this planet in a stranglehold. Mother Earth, raped again. Guess who. "Hey, she was asking for it."
- Another bit: "There's a rape every six minutes in this country. And boy is my dick sore! I'm tellin' ya, every day, house to house. There's no let-up. It's a fuckin' hassle."
- Blah Blah Blah: George's shorthand for saying "this person is talking shit".
- Berserk Button: Many things, but chief among them were idiocy and ignorance, which would often lead to seemingly Unstoppable Rage directed towards the world around him. Some of his most enduring material comes from those moments. He also didn't take heckling well.
- "WELL, I GET PISSED, GOD DAMN IT!!!"
- One of his routines was devoted entirely to telling a heckler off, in the most jaw droppingly brutal way possible.
- "So fuck you and your sister and your wife, if you got a kid, I hope your fucking kid dies in a car fire! How do you like that, you stupid cocksucker?! Shut the fuck up and get the fuck outta here!" Do not fuck with Carlin.
- When he was fired from Las Vegas after saying "ass" and "shit" in front of a crowd full of golfers, he developed a lifelong hatred for golf. Generally punctuated by "Have you ever watched golf on TV? It's like watching flies fuck." It culminated in the "Golf Courses for the Homeless" routine, wherein he suggests using the land on golf courses for low-cost housing.
- He touched on this in his "Dirty Words" routine (not to be confused with the "7 Words" - they're different bits). "I once got thrown out of a hotel in Vegas for saying the word 'shit', in a town where one of the most popular games is called craps. ...Never made sense to me."
- Hugo Chávez later did this in Venezuela. I've always wondered if he got the idea from Carlin.
- In fact, it's safe to say his on-stage persona had a Hair-Trigger Temper.
- Boomerang Bigot: Carlin reserved some searing criticism for white people.
- Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: Followed by Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking in "Stuff": "Now you just bring the things you know you're gonna need: Money, keys, comb, wallet, lighter, hanky, pens, cigarrettes, contraceptives, vaseline, whips, chains, whistles, dildoes, and a book!"
- Breakup Breakout: Though Jack Burns did have a successful career post-split, Carlin went into legend territory.
- Brick Joke: An uncommon but funny occurrence. In an early skit, two sisters were to be reunited on a Truth or Consequences-type skit, but "you blew the question so we sent your sister back to Maine!" Then later that sister appeared on a Queen For A Day-like show and referenced the first skit.
- And demonstrating just how truly awesome the man was, he accomplished this posthumously, with a little help from NPR of all places. One of Carlin's routines was about the appropriate time to remove someone's name from your address book after they've died, with it coming out to six months. Six months after he dies, cue a short NPR story on the routine... and a final farewell.
- The guy in the Grateful Dead t-shirt and the "Fuck you!" hat from the "flying on the airlines" routine.
- After his Rape as Comedy skit (seen below), he goes into a rant on feminism, though he agrees with feminism on its basic point on how men have systematically abused women and pretty much everything else: "Mother Earth, raped again. 'Hey, she was askin' for it.'"
- Brooklyn Rage: Grew up in "White Harlem" which was called such because it sounded cooler than Morningside Heights
- Calling Your Bathroom Breaks: He has a bit about how embarrassing it would be to have your fiance do this at a dinner party, and wonders just what drives people to do it.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Though more present in his earlier stand-ups up to the 80's. It gets overshadowed by his increasingly abrasive persona. Though even then he encourages parents allow kids today to be more like this trope by daydreaming instead of giving an abundance of after-school activities.
- Captain Ersatz: Carlin from the 90's on became the epitomy of the "angry comic". In The Simpsons, when Krusty became one, he adopted the same ponytail and attitude as Carlin.
- Cerebus Syndrome: His act from the 1970s and early 1980s was much Lighter and Softer -- less angry, a bit less vulgar, and certainly less political -- than his act from about '87 on.
- Cluster F-Bomb: He would veer between this and Precision F-Strike to excellent effect.
"Shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits."
- His skit on how fuck has changed
Fuck you. Fuck you, you Fuck. Fuck you, you Fuck; who the Fuck do you think you're Fucking with? Some kind of Fuckhead? Fuck you. Who the Fuck you think you're Fucking with, me? Don't Fuck with me! I will Fuck you over. You Fuck with me, you will get Fucked, you Fuck! Don't Fuck with me; I'm the Fucker! Don't Fuck with the Fucker!"
- One of this classic bits was exchanging "kill" with "fuck" in "Again".
If we just change fucking for killing for about a year, that's all. Imagine it. Sure would be fun watching TV during that time, huh? "Better get down off the horse, Sheriff, we're fixing to fuck you now. But we're gonna fuck ya SLOW"... "Mad fucker still on the loose." "Not anymore, he's made his first big mistake, my friend, he fucked a cop today. That makes him a cop fucker." ... "Pardon me, boys, my horse broke his leg. I'm gonna have to fuck him. I'll be right back." "STOP ME BEFORE I FUCK AGAIN!!" "Fuck the ump, fuck the ump!" "Easy on the exhaust, Ed, you'll fuck the engine."
- Comedic Sociopathy: An undisputed master of the genre.
- Conspiracy Theorist: Definitely not one of those out-there people, but he had very interesting things to say.
- Cool Old Guy: Almost goes without saying.
- Creepy Monotone: Often part of his punchline delivery, especially in the early years. On one of his albums the audience actually jumps (some of them, anyway) at the way he says the word "beard", and he works it into the routine.
Lenin had a beard. Gabby Hayes had whiskers.
- Crosses the Line Twice: A staple of his last few shows especially.
- He himself all but invoked this trope word for word: "I think it's the duty of the comedian to find out where the line is drawn, and cross it deliberately."
- Deadpan Snarker: Not always Deadpan, but very much a snarker.
- Despair Event Horizon: What he claimed was the end result of living in a Crapsack World, albeit milked for as much dark humor as possible.
- Dirty Old Man: Self-admitted.
- Drives Like Crazy: You realize this whenever you hear one of his routines on cars.
- Dude, Not Funny: Invoked. The man made a career of subverting this. For example, proving that rape could be funny by introducing us to the mental image of Porky Pig raping Elmer Fudd. Either the sheer absurdity of the idea makes you laugh, or your childhood memories will be shattered.
- Erudite Stoner: Carlin was very intelligent and said lots of interesting bits of wisdom, but there's no doubt as to what some of his hobbies included.
- Blatantly exposed in his Last Words autobiography, where it's pretty much stated that whilst pot potentially helped his career and partially fashioned him into the comic he'd become famous as, there were some terrible downsides.
- Everything's Better Deep Fried: Well, to the rest of America, according to George.
Americans love to eat. They are fatally attracted to the slow-death of fast food. Hot dogs, corn dogs, triple bacon cheeseburgers, deep-fried, butter-dipped in pork fat and cheese-whiz, mayonnaise, soaked barbecue, mozzarella patty melts. Americans will eat anything. Anything. ANYTHING. Shit, if you were selling fried raccoons assholes on a stick, Americans would buy them and eat them! Especially if you were to dip them in butter and put a little salsa on them!
- Fan Nickname: "Old Fuck", posthumously, since in It's Bad For Ya, Carlin expressed his desire to be known as that. ("Who's the old fuck?" "That Georgie, the old fuck.")
- Fighting Irish: He was of Irish descent and joked that He was an Irish catholic until "He reached the age of reason".
- For the Evulz: When talking about the Catholic doctrine of sins of intention in one of his stand-ups, notably.
"You could wake up one morning and say to yourself, 'I think I'm going to go down to 27th street today and commit myself a mortal sin!' Save the bus-fare, man! You did it!"
"Isn't there a part of you that, deep down, just hopes everything gets worse?"
- Fridge Logic: George loves pointing them out.
"In resturants where they serve frog's legs...what do they do with the rest of the frog? Do they just throw it away? You never see frog torsos on the menu, they throw them away! Could you imagine a barrel full of frog bodies?"
- And don't even get him started on airports.
- Fundamentally Funny Fruit: One of his routines first subverts this trope, then plays it straight.
- Gallows Humor: The title of his sortabiography, Last Words, is half this and half Tear Jerker.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: As Mr. Conductor, even:
"The farmer was telling Mavis just what she could do with her train."
- Glurge: Absolutely hated this kind of sentiment and was very pissed in later years when a number of saccharine online essays were being attributed to Him,some of which even lamented the decline of prayer in american culture.This makes one wonder if said attributors even knew who Carlin was.
- God Is Evil: A lot of His humour was based around this.
- A Good Name for a Rock Band: In one of his books he provided a whole list of these, among them "Warts, Waffles, and Walter", and best of all, "The Stillborn".
- Grammar Nazi: Well, really more of an entire language Nazi, really.
- Carlin himself was an avid scholar of etymology. Most of his humor came from understanding words. He was also fascinated (and angry) about using technical terminology to "soften" language. One of his most famous bits was about "shell shock".
I don't like words that hide the truth. I don't like words that conceal reality. I don't like euphemisms, or euphemistic language. And American English is loaded with euphemisms. Cause Americans have a lot of trouble dealing with reality. Americans have trouble facing the truth, so they invent the kind of a soft language to protect themselves from it, and it gets worse with every generation. For some reason, it just keeps getting worse. I'll give you an example of that. There's a condition in combat. Most people know about it. It's when a fighting person's nervous system has been stressed to its absolute peak and maximum. Can't take anymore input. The nervous system has either (click) snapped or is about to snap. In the First World War, that condition was called shell shock. Simple, honest, direct language. Two syllables, shell shock. Almost sounds like the guns themselves. That was seventy years ago. Then a whole generation went by and the Second World War came along and very same combat condition was called battle fatigue. Four syllables now. Takes a little longer to say. Doesn't seem to hurt as much. Fatigue is a nicer word than shock. Shell shock! Battle fatigue. Then we had the war in Korea, 1950. Madison Avenue was riding high by that time, and the very same combat condition was called operational exhaustion. Hey, we're up to eight syllables now! And the humanity has been squeezed completely out of the phrase. It's totally sterile now. Operational exhaustion. Sounds like something that might happen to your car. Then of course, came the war in Viet Nam, which has only been over for about sixteen or seventeen years, and thanks to the lies and deceits surrounding that war, I guess it's no surprise that the very same condition was called post-traumatic stress disorder. Still eight syllables, but we've added a hyphen! And the pain is completely buried under jargon. Post-traumatic stress disorder. I'll bet you if we'd have still been calling it shell shock, some of those Viet Nam veterans might have gotten the attention they needed at the time. I'll betcha that. I'll betcha.
- Groin Attack: He once said that "groin" is the sound people make when they get struck in that area.
- Growing the Beard: Carlin himself considered his '92 special "Jammin' In New York" to be this, as he felt that was the first special where his material really clicked and he truly connected with the audience. Leading up to this his skits were relying less on character-based comedy and more on jokes about society and the misuse of language. Afterwards his material became much more cynical and dark compared to before.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: His last few years, where his stage persona became increasingly bitter and even more hilarious. Surprisingly, he was a calm, patient and almost compassionate fellow in Real Life.
- Happily Married: Though they technically didn't marry, he was this for the last ten years of his life with Sally Wade. In what may be hard to believe for some, she describes him as a very romantic, sweet, caring and of course funny guy. It seems he did not necessarily become as cynical in late life as his stage persona did.
- Heh Heh, You Said "X": He gives an example of this with the word "cock" in his stand-up.
"Remember when we were in the sixth grade and we used to laugh at everything? 'And the cock crowed three times...' 'Hey! It's in the Bible!' Remember the first time you heard of a cockfight? 'No, it's not that, man!'"
- Hilarious in Hindsight: Invoked. A big part of his material, though not as much in later shows, was to "remind you of things you already know, but forgot to laugh at the first time they happened".
- Horny Vikings: Carlin stated they were real bad news.
George Carlin: We come from that northern European, basically the northern European genes, the blue eyes. Those blue eyes. Boy everybody in the world learned real quick, didn’t they? When those blue eyes sail out of the north, you better nail everything down. Nail it down, strap it down, or they’ll grab it. If they can’t take it home, they’ll burn it. If they can’t burn it, they’ll fuck it.
- Hurricane of Puns: Used sparingly and to great effect, skirting past Incredibly Lame Pun territory with ease.
The language of comedy is fairly grim and violent. It's filled with punchlines, gags, and slapstick. After all, what does a comic worry about most? Dying. He doesn't want to die. 'Jees, I was dyin'. It was like death out there. Like a morgue. I really bombed.' Comics...want to go over with a bang. And be a real smash. And if everything works out, if they're successful and they make you laugh, they can say, 'I killed 'em. I slaughtered those people, I knocked them dead.' And what phrases do we use when we talk about the comic? 'He's a riot.' 'A real scream.' 'A rib-splitting knee-slapper.' 'My sides hurt.' 'My cheeks ache.' 'He broke me up, cracked me up, slayed me, fractured me, and had me in stitches.' 'I busted a gut.' 'I get a real kick out of that guy.' 'Laugh? I thought I'd die.'"
- Hypocritical Humor: Often within the same skit, done deliberately to highlight both sides of an argument.
"In case you people are wondering why it is that I do commercials for 10-10-220 and then come out here and attack advertising... well... you're just gonna have to figure that shit out on your own!"
- He also said the same about being on Thomas the Tank Engine and Shining Time Station and then saying that most kids are stupid.
"And remember, this is Mr. Conductor talking; I know what I'm talking about!"
- Incredibly Lame Pun: Sometimes he acts defensive about his own puns, even when they're funny:
"I've got an idea for the perfect name for a gay bar: 'The Mouthful.' Isn't that great? It's a double pun! Well god damn it, YOU didn't think of it! Even if you're not gay, step inside...have a cocktail! Or a high ball!"
- In Soviet Russia, Trope Mocks You: Some of the biggest laughs from his 1970s albums came from simply inverting the words in a phrase.
- (From Seven Dirty Words, talking about words that are only dirty some of the time) "Prick. It's okay to say if it happens to your finger. Yes, you can prick your finger, but don't finger your prick."
- "People say they tell time. But you don't tell time, time tells you."
- The Irish Diaspora: Averted. Carlin is Irish (formerly Irish Catholic, but he gave being Catholic at age 3), and revels in it.
- It's a Small Net After All: Subverted. Unlike most people of his age, George was a big advocate of computers as a more efficient way of storing information, including composing his own material on them and using the internet for research. His later television specials even namecheck popular sites.
- On the other hand, one of his "short takes" from one of his books says that when people ask him if he has an e-mail address, he tells them firstname.lastname@example.org/upyourass, and this seems never to fail to get the point across to them.*
- Jade-Colored Glasses: While he was always crude and had fun poking at cultural taboos for satire, it was fairly light-hearted at first, then his material became much darker as his career continued.
- Jerkass Facade & Jerk with a Heart of Gold: See Jerkass Woobie (under YMMV) and Happily Married. And there was also the time when he met a young fan of Shining Time Station at an airport, and rather than disillusion him by telling him that Mr. Conductor didn't exist, he patiently explained that he was "on vacation" from the magical island. He also genuinely loved his wife, Brenda, and felt a lot of guilt about how he acted during most of his daughter's childhood.
- Kill All Humans: Well, most of them...
- Large Ham: When confronting some of his soapbox issues especially.
[about traffic accidents]: Well of course they're hurt - LOOK AT ALL THE BLOOD! You just ran over them with a ton and a half of STEEL!!!
- Lighter and Softer: Contrasting two different things, like in his "Baseball vs. Football" sketch, to make one appear more wholesome.
Football is played in a stadium, often called a colliseum, on a gridiron. Baseball is played on a diamond, in a park. Let's all go to the park!
- Lopsided Dichotomy: "It's either 8:15 or Mickey has a hard-on!"
- Mathematician's Answer: Related to Lopsided Dichotomy, Carlin suggests that, if someone asks you "Do you have the time?" you answer "Yes!" and walk away.
- Mean Character, Nice Actor: A classic case, as incredibly cynical, bitter and hateful his material got in the later years, he was a very nice and gentle man and lead a pretty good life. He even admitted he relished the chance to get up onstage and rip society to shreds as a kind of shared catharsis with his audience, and in his autobiography states if he was anywhere near as bitter and misanthropic as his stage persona, he would have shot himself years ago.
- N-Word Privileges: Deconstructed.
There's a different group to get pissed off at you in this country for everything your not supposed to say. Can't say Nigger, Boogie, Jig, Jigaboo, Skinhead, Moolimoolinyon, Schvatzit, Junglebunny. Greaser, Greaseball, Dago, Guinea, Whop, Ginzo, Kike, Zebe, Heed, Yid, Mocky, Himie, Mick, Donkey, Turkey, Limey, Frog. Zip, Zipperhead, Squarehead, Kraut, Hiney, Jerry, Hun, Slope, Slopehead, Chink, Gook. There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of those words in and of themselves. They're only words. It's the context that counts. It's the user. It's the intention behind the words that makes them good or bad. The words are completely neutral. The words are innocent. I get tired of people talking about bad words and bad language. Bullshit! It's the context that makes them good or bad. The context. That makes them good or bad. For instance, you take the word "Nigger." There is absolutely nothing wrong with the word "Nigger" in and of itself. It's the racist asshole who's using it that you ought to be concerned about. We don't mind when Richard Pryor or Eddie Murphy say it. Why? Because we know they're not racist. They're Niggers! Context. Context. We don't mind their context because we know they're black. Hey, I know I'm whitey, the blue-eyed devil, paddy, o-fay, gray boy, honkey mother-fucker myself. Don't bother my ass. They're only words. You can't be afraid of words that speak the truth, even if it's an unpleasant truth, like the fact that there's a bigot and a racist in every living room on every street corner in this country.
- In another routine he says that if he had to pick what term he prefers people to use for whites it would be "blue-eyed devil" because it sounds so romantic and tangy.
- Name One: "Name six ways we're better than chickens!" (Beat) "See, nobody can do it!"
- Only Sane Man: He often came across as the only person intelligent enough not just to notice the serious problems with the world, but be able to articulate them in humorous ways.
- Our Gods Are Greater: "My god has a bigger dick than your god!"
- Overly Long Gag: "Coast-to-Coast Emergency" from Life is Worth Losing.
- But TOTALLY worth it.
- Especially for Uncle Dave. All of them.
- But TOTALLY worth it.
- Papa Wolf: As he recounted in Last Words, he learned that a boy was abusing his daughter and had gotten her pregnant. George ordered the boy's father to keep the boy away from his daughter. When the boy showed up again anyway, all George had to do was come out wielding a baseball bat before he got the message.
- Planet of Hats: One of Carlin's bits. His desire: making a religion that was hats optional, seeing as the rules on the subject made no sense from religion to religion.
- Playing Against Type: His stand-up is mostly about the Crapsack World in which we live. In the Bill & Ted movies, he plays a character from a time in which everything is pretty much perfect.
- Pop-Cultured Badass: In a verbal sense. He was VERY in tune with popular culture, and had no problem or fear in calling out all the ills in popular society and the people responsible.
- Precision F-Strike: He had a gift for inserting profanity in some of his skits for maximum impact.
- The Pete Best: He originally partnered with Jack Burns, and though he had a great career of his own, it was never as big as it was with Carlin.
- Once boasted that he was actually the ANTI-Pete Best for replacing Ringo Starr on Shining Time Station.
- Raised Catholic: "I used to be Irish Catholic, now I'm American." Most of the jokes in Class Clown are about his time of being one in a Catholic high school.
- Refuge in Audacity: Always.
- Refuge in Vulgarity: Again, always. He once Deconstructed the anatomy of his jokes and said that one or both of these tropes were parts of the necessary exaggeration that made the jokes funny rather than just shocking. Knowing just how far to push was his speciality.
- Retirony: The last chapter of his autobiography indicated that he had enough notes to write a Broadway play or musical based on his life, entitled "New York Boy". Unfortunately, his autobiography was released posthumously.
- Running Gag: Well, not so much 'gag' as he tended toward stock phrases for some of his specials to punctuate his jokes.
"...and that seems to hold 'em for about a half an hour."
- Sarcasm Mode. Always done expertly.
"[The airport security people] know you're not a security risk because you've answered The Three Big Questions. Question #1: 'Did you pack your bags yourself?' (Beat) No. Carrot Top packed my bags. He and Martha Stewart and Florence Henderson came over to my house last night, fixed me a lovely lobster Newberg, massaged me in sacred oils from India, performed a four-way 'around the world' and then they packed my bags. Next question: 'Have your bags been in your possession the whole time?' No. Usually the night before I travel--just as the moon is rising--I go to a street corner downtown and I leave them there, unattended, for several hours. Just for good luck. Next question: 'Has any unknown person asked you to bring anything onboard?' Hmmm...well, what exactly is an 'unknown person'? Surely everyone is known to someone! In fact, just earlier today Kareem and Yusef ali-bin-Gaba got to know each other pretty well! They kept making jokes about which one of my bags was the heaviest."
- Scenery Porn: George had some impressively elaborate stage sets throughout his standup career, though interestingly he never really used prop comedy.
- Schmuck Bait: from Carlin on Campus.
"Please God, let me do a good show tonight. Don't let me be an asshole. Don't let anyone yell 'too late'." [someone in the audience yells out 'too late'.] "And punish those who do."
- Fuck Politeness, I'm an Old Fuck!: To paraphrase from It's Bad For Ya: advantages of getting old include being able to chalk up any mental slip to old age, ability to get out of social obligations by claiming to be tired, never having to carry one's bags again.
The first one is, you never have to carry anything heavy ever again. Everybody wants to help an old fuck. If you've got a big suitcase, or something like that, you know, you just kind of go like this a little bit... And you say "Yeah, can you help me with this?" They say "Yeah, hey, how far are you going?" "Indianapolis." Another nice thing about getting old is you can leave any social event early just by saying you're tired. Works great with family members. Just turn to the person next to you and you say "Gee, I'm getting tired, you know." "Oh, you're tired? Come on, grandpa's tired, grandpa's going to bed." And someone else says "But it's seven thirty in the morning!" There's always one asshole in the family. But the best thing about getting old is you're not responsible for remembering things anymore. Even important things; "But it was your daughter's funeral!" "I forgot!" You can even make believe you have Alzheimer's Disease. That's a lot of fun. You look around the dining room table and you say "Who are you people and where is my horse?" Then you stare at your eldest son and say "Agnes! I haven't seen you since First Communion!" You can even shit in your pants! They expect it! I haven't tried that yet, but I don't rule it out.
- Seven Dirty Words: The Trope Namer, which has aged surprisingly well.
- Seven Minute Lull: He discussed this in a segment about life's little moments. "Right! I know! I know! Well, what I'm gonna do, I'm gonna have my testicles laminated!''"
- Signature Style: Like the old adage goes, often imitated but seldom bettered.
- Silly Walk: Occasionally to mock the struts of the self-important, but Carlin on Campus had several choice absurdities that stood up all on their own.
Sometimes, I go like this. (strikes an awkward pose) And then I wonder why.
- Sir Swearsalot: Made cussing on stage popular.
- Smite Me, O Mighty Smiter!: As a part of his routine, he challanged God to strike the audience, then him to death to prove that He exists.
- The Stoner: The Hippy Dippy Weatherman.
- Testosterone Poisoning: Had a low, low opinion of it.
- That Came Out Wrong: But he was always witty enough to run with it, improvise a joke out of his mistakes. Quite possibly the best example, from It's Bad For Ya, when talking about the perks of getting old:
You can even shit your pants! Haven't tried it yet...but I don't rule it out! I'm keeping my options open. Everything is on the table! [[[Beat]]] ...perhaps that's not the figure of speech I wanted...
- On violent human behavior:
Jeffrey Dahmer never thought of this shit did he? Jeffrey Dahmer, eat your heart out! ... which is an interesting thought in and of itself...
- From Playing with Your Head:
So I took the earring out and my hole grew over. (Beat) My earring hole. Hey. Hey! My asshole didn't grow over. What are you, crazy? Get out of here! No, your asshole grows over, you may as well check straight into a cemetary. 'Cause you're going to spend a lot of time walking around the beach wondering why you're getting larger all of a sudden.
"I...sense I've gone too far. So I'll quit while I'm ahead..."
- Viewers are Morons: Most of his comedy was very erudite, but he did like pointing out ignorance sometimes even within his own audience.
- Wham! Line: In Doin' It Again, he has a minute and a half rant that demonstrates how "soft" language has gotten, in which he explains a combat condition that was called "Shell Shock" has been renamed "Battle Fatigue", then "Operational Exhaustion", and finally "Post-traumatic Stress Disorder". An audible murmur ripples through the crowd at that point when they suddenly realize what he's been talking about.
- You Bastard: Was not afraid to slam on various groups and interests he hated, and would actually tell his audience the comedic equivalent to this if they actually were this. Most of the audience lapped it up, even if THEY were the target.
- You Fail Logic Forever: based a lot of his humour on this, usually using a Precision F-Strike or two (rather than his more common Cluster F-Bombs), as in this gem:
"Another women's issue I don't get, prostitution, I don't understand why prostitution is illegal. Selling is legal, fucking is legal. Why isn't selling fucking legal? Why is it illegal to sell something that's perfectly legal to give away?"
- and came back nine years later in 1984 on November 10th -- the inversion of October 11th -- to host again