|Purchase: Amazon | Chapters|
Genre: Autobiography, Humour
Start Date: Dec. 25, 2010
Finished Date: Dec. 28, 2010 (3 days)
Where Found: Surprise Xmas 2010 gift from my dad, a lifelong Carlin fan.
Why Read: I never quite understood the mystery of Carlin and his appeal to both my dad & grandad, though I love his humour, and now I have a deeper knowledge of it all.
Summary: A reflective, side-splitting autobiography that recounts Carlin's Harlem childhood with Irish-American parents, experiences that influenced one of his most beloved comedy albums, Class Clown, his comedy club & TV gigs, writing controversial, countercultural material, and the effects of his multiple substance abuses.
Whether or not a person's sense of humour is akin to your taste, you have to admire the intelligence it takes to be funny: the setup, the buildup, the punchline, and most important of all, the timing. All part of the formula, but not the entire picture by far. The best comedians have colourful backgrounds that form the basis for their almost limitless supply of material. Their appeal comes from the use of unique concepts that relate to their audience. Some comedians dance along an unwritten boundary line, testing the waters before leaping right in; some just take the plunge. George Carlin had more than an irreverent take on life that came through his humour--he had a strong take on society's deepest issues, from religion to education to abortion, never shying from controversy, to the point where he even seemed to embrace it.
Carlin's autobiography is full of both hilarious and sad stories that build up a fascinating background for a comedian to grow up. His mother had a wicked sense of humour. His father was an absent alcoholic. He drew on his Catholic school experiences for Class Clown. He crawled up the showbiz ladder by working in radio and then in comedy clubs, followed by several appearances on variety TV, HBO specials, and several hit albums and books. And of course, there were the 7 words, which I won't reprint here. But, as Carlin asks, "you do know what they are, don't you?" ;)
Carlin writes honest, blunt takes on the sad, serious sides of life with terrific humour and spins the values of society on their head to the point where we rethink their original intention. His work as a comedian went beyond making people laugh, using humour as a device for intelligence during a time of countercultural rebellion, paving the way for comics with a conscience, and creating a whole different sense of humour.
On a personal note, when my parents were dating, they, like most couples do, examined their books and music collections for duplications. There weren't many books & records in common, but they each had at least one Carlin album. It must have been fate :)
Rank: (A)- Excellent, Recommend