If there was ever a time to take up swearing, it's now. George Carlin, comedian, is dead at the age of 71, from heart failure. The Manhattan-born comedian had been doing comedy since 1960, and was the host of the very first episode of Saturday Night Live in 1975. Before that, he made history for his routine about the seven words you can't say on television, which he was arrested for performing at a comedy show in 1972 (the charges were dropped). The routine later reinforced the government's ability to sanction radio stations when it was played on the air, for some reason. (Hey, thanks, Mr. DJ!)
Carlin filmed 14 HBO specials, appeared on The Tonight Show 130 times, and even had his own TV show, The George Carlin Show, which only lasted 27 episodes in 1994-95. In it, Carlin played a New York City cab driver named George O'Grady, which makes me wonder why it was called The George Carlin Show. Why not call it The George O'Grady Show? Because nobody wants to see The George O'Grady Show? Then why do the show in the first place? [Apologies to Carlin's "rain dance" routine. - Z] He also guest-starred on a ton of shows, including That Girl, Welcome Back Kotter and The Simpsons, and was a regular on two kids' programs: he narrated Thomas the Tank Engine and played Mr. Conductor on the spin-off Shining Time Station. That's right, Thomas the Tank Engine had a spin-off.
But it was in the movies where he really shined. As Rufus in both Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure and Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, Carlin played the quintessential time-traveling phone booth operator. (Yeah, you heard me -- eat it, Doctor Who!) And Carlin was a favorite of Kevin Smith's as well, appearing in Dogma as a cardinal who wanted Christ to be everybody's "buddy," then sadly re-teaming with Smith for the deplorable Jersey Girl. The expression on Carlin's face in the scene where he changes diapers pretty much sums up how critics felt about this movie.
But nothing can compare to Carlin's TV-movie for The Wonderful World of Disney, titled Justin Case. In it, Carlin plays the ghost of a private eye who needs an aspiring actress to help him find his killer. There's no swearing in it, but you'll probably curse up a storm trying to bid on it on eBay.
George, here's hoping Heaven has a place for all of your stuff.
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TwoP Editor Zach Oat once saw George Carlin perform live in New London, CT, although most of that performance was Carlin's Incomplete List of Impolite Words and Phrases. There's too many of them to remember, which is why Zach bought the poster.