Friday, January 15, 2010

Last Words from George Carlin - a book review

Last Words, George Carlin's posthumous memoir, is a must read for every fan of Carlin as well as those who want a look inside the mind of the word-obsessed, meaning-searching, stand-up comedian. What we find inside is not always pretty, but it's as open, honest, and truthful as any memoir can be.

While the book is, at times, uproariously funny, the focus here is not on making comedy, but on how comedy is made. Humor, it turns out, is no laughing matter. Carlin worked meticulously on notes on topics, slowly and carefully shaping his 'bits' over years, carefully nursing them until they were ready for public view. This book, too, was decades in the making, and the effort paid off.

But also on view here is the private Carlin. The father who tried so hard not be the over-bearing parent that his own mother was that he missed huge chunks of his daughter's childhood. The addict and co-dependent with an addict wife. The workaholic who's career was declared dead several times, and who fought back with comeback after comeback.

Those who hate Carlin will find reason here to find him as the self-centered, uncaring, drug addled freak that they expect. And those who love Carlin will find the working class intellectual who rose above two-dimensional shtick to rip the lid off polite society and show it for the hateful, greedy, violent mess that it is, and did so with great humor. They're each part of who George Carlin was, and what made his work unique.

I miss George Carlin, I miss his work, and I am grateful that this book invited inside his head one last time.

1 comment:

  1. thanks for the review Mr. RG. Oh Curt sent me! I'm a big fan of Carlin's comedy, his brilliance, and his flaws too. much the same with my realistic admiration of John Lennon (who was a very flawed human being, but yet brilliant too)

    jason (pizzaboy)


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