This is going to sound kind of random, but those of us who like to laugh have a reason to cry this week with the death of George Carlin.
The legendary comic was off-putting to some: At the end of one of his HBO comedy specials, he unfurled a long roll of parchment with far more than seven words you can't say on television; I found it hilarious, some found it crude.
But despite the raunchier aspects of his sets, he also could be inspiring. He once made a top 10 list of how to stay young, with simple and smart advice like "surround yourself with what you love," "cherish your health" and "don't take guilt trips."
It may sound odd to describe Carlin as big-hearted. In an episode of "Dennis Miller Live" a decade ago, Miller asked Carlin - famous for exposing the dumber aspects of the modern world - how he can live surrounded by so many things that frustrate him. Carlin replied that he mentally removes himself from the world and views it all as entertainment.
Comedian George Carlin is shown in a 1975 promotional photo. Carlin, 71, whose staunch defense of free speech in his famous routine "Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television" led to a key Supreme Court ruling on obscenity, died Sunday. Associated Press
He wasn't just joking, I'm sure, but I suspect he was exaggerating somewhat. The secret that Carlin kept close to his vest was that he cared quite a bit for his fellow human beings and the state of the planet. If he mentally removed himself, I think it was so his frustrations wouldn't eat him up inside.
Carlin composed clever classics like "Baseball vs. Football," "A Place for Your Stuff" and "The Two Commandments." He also could be darkly creative - witness his bit about why he wouldn't stop if he ran someone over in his car.
But, regardless of the mood, it's clear he loved composing material - interacting with his audience by presenting a well-worded argument. He was too good at it to have not loved it.
I hope the Great Electron in the Sky appreciates its new resident.
- By John Hansen,Entertainment Editor
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