Monday, June 23, 2008

The Difference Between Humor and Odor

In honor of the passing of George Carlin yesterday, I felt it necessary to bring this old post back up to the top. Carlin was a profound influence on me; when I was 17, I thought he was just @#*($&^ing hot !#(*$&$!, and I once not only had the privilege of seeing him perform live, I also got to watch as he was subsequently arrested for that same performance. Later, I imagine he must have looked on with near-paternal pride as an entire generation of young comedians followed in his footsteps, and audiences were doubled over in laughter at such brilliant witticisms as @#$(*&^#$, @#$*&^?!, @#$*&^#**, and of course, the unforgettable, #@*&^$@!!^*&@~!!!

Therefore, in solemn recognition of the passing of one of the great comedians of our time, I am rerunning this review, and suggest that as you go through your day today, you take a moment now and then to reflect on the difference Carlin made in your life, and then pull out your Sharpie and scribble @#*&^#$@#!! on a bathroom wall.

Originally posted July 20, 2006.

It was one of those books you pick up and start reading because someone else left it at the cabin and you lack the energy to go find the book you intended to read. In this particular case, the book was Napalm & Silly Putty, by George Carlin.

Now, how can I say this? "This book is bad." No, that's inadequate. "This book is stunningly awful." No, still not there. How about, "Carlin's collection of allegedly humorous quips and stories is a week-old turd sautéed in dog vomit over a flaming fart."

Yes, I think that begins to get close to it. But in all fairness I should also add, "And a NY Times #1 Bestseller."

Me, I've had to spend the past week re-reading Robert Benchley just to get the persistent reek of Carlin out of my mind. But I'm left to wonder: this book is a Hyperion (which is to say, Disney) product, and the Library of Congress files it under "American wit and humor." From Mark Twain ("Man is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to."), to Will Rogers ("Diplomacy is the art of saying 'Nice doggie' until you can find a rock."), to George Carlin ("@#*&^$ @#6% @#(*ing @#^ @(*&??? *&^# *@^#$ @&*^ed &*^*$%!!!)

Where are we going, and why are we in this handbasket?