The Austin Chronicle

George Carlin

The comedians' comedian

By Steve Birmingham, December 30, 2005, Arts

This week, George Carlin was supposed to have finally brought his Off Base and On Target tour to Austin after two cancellations in the previous year, first due to his stint in rehab and then to Hurricane Rita. But as this issue was going to press, word came down that the comedian canceled again. Despite his being a three-time no-show in Austin, Carlin is still a legend, so the Chronicle asked several area comics to share their thoughts on this savagely funny, groundbreaking, and very influential stand-up artist. "The first thing I remember about Carlin was his AM/FM comedy record. It nailed the mood of the time as there were two co-existing worlds in the early Seventies: the AM (the straights) and the FM (the heads). Carlin seemed to be the first Hippie Comic, and when his album Class Clown came out with "Seven Words" on it, it was must-have, along with your Indian print bedspread, love beads, and patchouli oil. All that stuff seems silly now, but he has only gotten better with time." – Kerry Awn

"The amazing thing about George Carlin isn't that he's been doing it for so long. It's that he's stayed relevant for so long. He's constantly redefining himself, but it's always very Carlin. Often a biting social critic, he never comes across as heavy-handed because he's such a master of the language. Just thinking about some of his bits, I find myself in awe." – Jim Hamilton

"Being able to say you saw George Carlin live is the same as being able to say you saw Michael Jordan or Jerry Rice or Wayne Gretzky play." – David Huntsberger

"I'm jealous that he can open with such great jokes like 'Have you ever noticed that all those women who are against abortion are the ones you wouldn't want to fuck anyway?' He's one of my idols, so I've tried to open with the most shocking naughty joke in my act, like: 'I saw a bumper sticker on a car that had a picture of the Bible and said "Better than a condom!" And I'm thinking, "How the hell am I supposed to fit that Bible on my dick? Fuck that, how am I supposed to get that Bible up my ass?"' That joke doesn't usually get many laughs. Maybe because Carlin's famous, he can get a laugh from a joke like that and because I'm not famous, I can't. Or maybe it just isn't very funny." – Rob Nash

"George Carlin was a big inspiration to me way before I ever dreamed of becoming a comic. I first saw him on Sullivan, doing the hippie-dippie weatherman. 'Tonight's weather: dark. Continued mostly dark tonight, turning to widely scattered light by morning.' I loved the way he thought. During the Vietnam War, he had great material that really summed up the attitude of the hawkish Americans: 'Pull out? Doesn't sound manly to me, Bob!' I saw that the fool can tell the truth, and as long as it's funny, he won't get his head cut off. We really needed humor then to diffuse tension in the country." – Nancy Reed

"George Carlin is what I would call a true comedian. By that I mean he has stayed true to the comedy formula. He didn't get successful and then abandon stand-up to start doing TV shows and movies. He remains one of the greatest." – Jimmie Roulette

"George Carlin would be more successful if he had a gimmick. Maybe try a schtick pretending to have a lower-middle-class job of some sort and poor grammar. A catchphrase about getting things accomplished might be good, too." – Brendon Walsh

George Carlin has canceled his Dec. 30 appearance at the Paramount Theatre, 713 Congress. For more information, call 472-5470 x1 or visit

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