George Carlin is dead at age seventy-one. I grew up in a family that appreciated intelligence and loved words. Puns abounded and massive dictionaries were handy. We were introduced early to Scrabble and to the original "Password" on television.
George Carlin was known for words. He did the classic "Seven Dirty Words" routine. That routine is at the end of "Class Clown" and, as he starts into it, the audience applauds: this is what they were waiting for. "The other stuff was very funny, but now he's going to say those words. Those dirty words."
There are many comedians who use the word "motherfucker" as a punchline. The great thing about Carlin is that he didn't use those words just to titillate (heh, heh, that word has "tit" in it *snicker*). His routine was about the effect they have and the way people react to them. My favorite part was when he pointed out the words that go both ways and you have to be careful with: "you can talk about pricking your finger, but not fingering your prick."
Carlin talked about words a lot. He had a routine about contradictory terms such as "jumbo shrimp" and "military intelligence". It's hard to pick a favorite Carlin routine, but "Baseball and Football" is right up there for me, with the comparison of "diamonds" and "gridirons", "ups" and "downs" and how the words represent the sports. That was the thing, though, he talked about what words represent: ideas. He explored religion through the words, "Heaven, Hell, Purgatory and Limbo" (seriously, get the album, I'm not linking to every routine he ever did).
Carlin is the most intelligent comedian I can think of. He will be eulogized equally by lovers of comedy and by lovers of words and ideas.
I wish he'd lived to 105, a much funnier age.
George Carlin passes = one grasps sacrilege