"I used to be Irish Catholic, now I'm an American. You know, you grow."
Those were the first words spoken on George Carlin's album Class Clown. While the man may have lost faith, he will forever be a deity for comedy fans -- even after his passing Sunday in Los Angeles at the age of 71. When they build the Mount Rushmore of stand-up comedy, his face will most assuredly stare down at us -- ideally with the look of disgust he would save for anyone who believed in any kind of god whatsoever. Luckily we won't need a giant carving of his face to remember him, because he left behind the most impressive, voluminous, and influential body of work any stand-up comic has ever produced.
Albums like FM & AM, Class Clown, A Place for My Stuff!, and Life Is Worth Losing -- and every one of his HBO specials -- will forever stand as documents of their time, but will also remain fresh because his observations on our linguistic and social foibles will always be on point. Carlin understood the folly of being human, the insignificance of it, and railed at the ways we built obsessions for ourselves in order to avoid the pain. He pointed out the empty soul at the heart of show business in routines like "The Divorce Game" and his impression of a DJ working on air at wonderful WINO Radio. He deconstructed our fetishistic consumerism in "A Place for My Stuff." And he never shied away from pointing out whenever language was used to obfuscate, rather than reveal, truth. This November, the Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for American Humor will be bestowed on Carlin, a fact announced before his death. There could be no more appropriate comparison because Carlin, like Twain, was able to tell us all what we were doing wrong, and make us laugh while he told us. -- Perry Seibert, All Movie Guide