I wasn’t quite ready, again.
Two weeks before Christmas, 2005, nearly 3 years ago now, I got a phone call that would prove as devastating as any I’d ever recevied: After an aduous, lengthy battle, my good friend Richard Pryor had passed away. Although Rich had been sick, and we’d all seen him in worse health, we weren’t quite ready to let go. Still, we knew it was coming. It struck me like a brick in the chest, and I was morose for weeks – the typical reaction that someone has when one of their heroes has died. Rich and I had stayed in touch pretty regularly via Jennifer, sharing our mutual fondness for critters.
I didn’t know George Carlin quite so intimately, but his name was ALWAYS right behind Pryor’s when anyone asked me who my favorite comedians were….and that’s been the same since about the time I was 10 years old. In time, George grew to be more than just a comedian for me – he also made me think about things. In retrospect, I think that’s just because Richard was cut down before his work emerged into meaningful commentary on our current times.
Always irreverent, George not only satirized our history, he was PART of it. A master of his craft, George didn’t simply bash things – he told you the truth – the sad, silly, awful truth about religion, politics, government, sex, race relations, the US Constitution and even economics….and made us LAUGH while doing it. His knack for showing us how utterly stupid humans can be struck a chord with fans which instantly generated loyal followers. I don’t know ANYBODY who just ‘liked’ Carlin’s work. You either loved it or you had no clue who I was talking about.
If he’d have run for President, opposing candidates would’ve been shaking in their boots. Fortunately, George had long-ago exposed the system for it’s fraud, deceit, and cunning way it had of corrupting the incorruptible, and chose not to take on that challenge.
His influence is obvious in our current crop of Comedians, but so many of them ring of simple imitators. Our entertainment field today is full of imitators – comedians who simply latched onto the tails of others to pull themselves into popularity COUGH **eddie murphy** COUGH. Few in the field today have the trail-blazing, fearless drive to not only entertain, but to open your eyes to your own stupidity.
This morning, when I read the news, I felt that familiar, milestone-creating thump in my chest.
While we had all been on guard for some time with Richard Pryor, the thud hit us all the same when he died.
With George, the thud hit dead-center-home, too, and in true Georgie fashion, it kicked me in the nuts for good measure. Hard. I simply wasn’t quite ready to lose another American Hero.
Can it be that we’ve just witnessed the death of the Last of the Great American Comedians?
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