"If they were to write a history of comedy in America in the last third of the 20th Century, they'd have to include me. I just know they can't leave me out. That's what I'd like to be remembered as, someone who made enough of a mark that they can't leave 'em out."
About This Interview
In one of his final interviews, George Carlin (1937-2008) revels in his ability to get to the truth in life and society: "Everybody thinks they have rights. And I tell them why they don't have any rights. — because your rights can disappear. So they're not rights, they're privileges…. It's fucking make believe, folks. It's like the boogeyman. We made that up. And people they cling to these things. Not my audience. My audience is glad to hear me get in there with the Rotor Rooter and the deep enema. Cleans the system out. I mean, I love doing this stuff. It's such a joy, god." George Carlin's career as a stand-up comedian was marked by his irreverent material epitomized by his famed comedy routine about the "Seven Dirty Words You Can Never Say on Television." In his Archive interview, Carlin describes his early comedic talents and how, as a teenager, he would record bits on a tape recorder and play them back for friends. He talks about the influences from the movies (particularly Danny Kaye's films) and early television (such as the variety series Broadway Open House) on his comic sensibilities. He then chronicles his early life through the Air Force, as a disk jockey, and as half of a comedy team with Jack Burns, leading to his first professional appearance on television on Jack Paar's Tonight Show. He notes various "breaks" along the way and talks about going solo, working as a stand-up comedian for several years, before he got back into making television appearances on such programs as The Ed Sullivan Show. He speaks in detail about his infamous "Seven Dirty Words" monologue and the FCC case that resulted from it (filed against WBAI radio, for obscenity), bringing it up-to-date: "Now piss has changed. Piss, interesting development, piss is now okay on television if you're pissed off, but not if you're pissed on. In other words, if you change the preposition you get in trouble. It's alright for me to say to you 'why are you pissed off at me?' But you can't say 'because you pissed on me.'" He recalls his appearance as the very first host of Saturday Night Live, and discusses how his HBO specials resurrected his career. He touches on his later work as an actor in Kevin Smith's movies and on such shows as the PBS series Shining Time Station, which earned him two Daytime Emmy nominations as Outstanding Performer in a Children's Series. George Carlin was interviewed in Venice, CA on December 17, 2007; Henry Colman and Jenni Matz conducted the three-hour interview.