Posted: 07/21/2005

 

George Carlin: Doin’ It Again

(1990)

by Rory L. Aronsky



Comedy from a man who doesn’t need an introduction, just uproarious applause. From MPI Home Video.


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A George Carlin or Robin Williams special is responsible for the exact same after-effect: Feeling for a few moments that you can be exactly like them, that fluttering buzz. For example, after watching “Doin’ It Again”, I went to the kitchen with the obsessive knowledge that there were chocolate-covered Nutter Butter cookies in the cabinet. I love peanut butter and cookies. Therefore, I wanted one or two, mostly two. Taking it to the dining room table, I opened one end of the box. Turns out that it was the wrong side. Flipping it over, I found the tab that says, “Open here” So what’s wrong with opening it on the other side? And what keeps them from making each side the same? The same tab can easily placed on each side, just tell the consumer, “Open either “”. Now the big question comes to the person: “Which side do I open?” They’re cookies! You’re not gonna eat the box!

See? That’s the buzz. And Carlin, one of the great masterminds in analyzing our English language, knows what pisses him off and gets right down to it. We live in a messed-up society. People delude themselves constantly each day into trying to make the bad news just a bit softer. We don’t want to know it in that way, so let’s change it into words that don’t sound so bad. The news is still bad, but we feel better. For some, that’s true. My news is fine the way it is. I want to know the bloody razors of the day. In Carlin’s way, he gives a list of the words he won’t say. He won’t be soft and say “game plan” or “what a guy!” “And if you need some “space”, he explains, “Get the fuck outside!” Carlin is that comedian we go to for confirmation that the world is indeed so inside-out, so twisted around, so stretched, that he knows exactly where that happened. He hates stupid people. So do most of us. We want to talk to someone, they’d better respond. The day’s short and we got things to do. So does he. To him, religion is mind control. The medical field is guesswork in a white coat. He’s got rationalizations for both of those. He explains that with religion, you’re told to say certain things and to say things that aren’t approved are “Sins!” It’s all based on personal perspective. Agree or disagree. It’s alright. Carlin’s one of those comedians that if you don’t like some of what he says, there’s always something else to heal that boo-boo. For example, he has ideas for products just as much as the companies do. How about targets on Kleenex tissues? Or a yo-yo with 2,000-foot string? Perfect for the Grand Canyon!

Carlin is one of the great comedians of the modern era because he does a great service for the common man, not only through this special but through his albums, books, and all else that gives him personal satisfaction and fat paychecks. It’s being able to dissect what the average guy thinks, but cannot put into the proper words or thoughts. Thought is a very complex process. It goes far beyond simply ordering from the McDonald’s drive-thru menu after having the car in park for two minutes, torn between the Big Mac or the Big N’ Tasty. We work everyday. There’s not only papers to file or type up, but people to navigate around. There are certain co-workers to avoid and when we unfortunately run into them, out come our own acting skills, which surprisingly, Hollywood does know about because they use the same type of “avoid” tactics too. Every industry’s got ‘em. And when we come home, there are the bills, and the kids, and the e-mails, and the spam, and the news, and the laundry, and everything else that fills our days and sometimes make us insane. Those are processes. The most some of us can emit are screams of frustration or just seething silent anger.

Life’s there, it’s big, and imposing. What Carlin does is take all of that and put it together in his own way. He’s using the same words we do in our daily conversations, just fashioning it so that we have that thought we were trying so hard to think of, but couldn’t get it right in that moment because of the stress of the day. He’s not only a comedian and a writer whose brain I wish I could have for a few days, but he’s a humanitarian as well. He makes us human again.

Rory L. Aronsky is a member of the Online Film Critics Society. He also writes for Film Threat.



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