George Carlin’s Seven Dirty Words Live On…

George CarlinGeorge Carlin was unique in the sense that he could insult you, insult the Catholic faith into which he was born, take a swipe at all creatures large and small—

And you loved him all the more for it.
The comedian, who died on Sunday, was a strange mix of humor and pain. They lived side by side in him. He could make you laugh hysterically one moment, and then make you angry the next. Many times he was funny, sometimes his rapid fire comedy became an almost incoherent rant. But his sheer genius kept you coming back for more. At times his irreverence was all but breathtaking. He took the legs out from under all that we hold dear, but also much that we dislike about our modern world as well.

His wit was most pointed when it came to his own New York Irish Catholic roots. He pitched his comedy fast and furious and there were times you simply could not take it all in. There were his fellow students in Catholic elementary school innocently asking such questions as, “Father, if God is all powerful can he create a rock that even he can’t move?”

He asked us as Americans to consider the following: “You know how stupid the average American is, just think, 50% of them are stupider than that.” But he was perhaps at his most brilliant in his classic routine, The Seven Dirty Words,” five of which I would not repeat here. Carlin stood propriety on its ear and he relished poking fun at our great sensitivity to certain words.

As Carlin pointed out, “There are some people who would have you not use certain words. There are 400,000 words in the English language, and there are seven of them that you can’t say on television. What a ratio that is. 399,993 to seven. They must really be bad. They’d have to be outrageous, to be separated from a group that large.”

But of cause Carlin being Carlin, he proceeds to have great fun with the way in which two of these words can be used and not draw the ire of one censor or the outrage of one viewer. For example, during a baseball game the sportscaster can say that the player has “two balls on him,” but he dare not say that sliding into home that same guy “hurt his balls on the play.” Furthermore Carlin noted that, “You can prick your finger, but don’t finger your prick. That’s a no, no.”

What is most difficult to explain for those who never saw this comic genius in the full bloom of his career, is the endless variety of whimsical and quizzical expressions that Carlin threw at his audience after an unexpected punch line. One look that said to everyone: “Can you believe that?” The raised eyebrow, the cock (there’s one of those words) of his head, or the twist of his smile.

If time had allowed he probably would have enjoyed making us laugh for another fifty years. We should be thankful for all the years he did have.

And if that Supreme Being at whose expense Carlin poked so much fun was waiting for him to arrive at the pearly gates on Sunday night, lets hope for Carlin’s sake that she or he has a good sense of humor. In fact for all of us who laughed right along with Carlin let’s also say a little prayer.

Martin Brown Money Editor