The Wonderfully Ruthless George (1999-2006)
"What was great was that now I could BE the clinical sociopath, play his glee at all the carnage, enjoy it, not just suggest it. And, by getting them to go along with my glee and laugh at it, driving home that this was something deep down in our psyche. That was confirmed by hearing this certain laughter of complicity from the audience, a knowing, accepting laughter."
- George Carlin, Last Words
"There's not an ounce of bitterness, or anger, or anything in it. What it is, is contempt, disappointment, distaste, disillusionment. That plays as anger, naturally, because we're limited to these words that kind of define things rigidly. Anger is a convenient way to describe what people see. It's very much like anger, and I guess by some definitions it is. But I don't experience it as anger. I experience it as contempt, disillusionment..."
- George Carlin, interview from November 30, 1999
- How's Everybody Doin'? [0:54]
- Airport Security [8:02]
- Fear of Germs [5:58]
- Cigars [1:39]
- Angels [1:10]
- Harley Davidson [1:23]
- House of Blues [2:00]
- Minority Language (A: Happens to Be, B: Openly, C: Urban, D: Girlfriend) [2:12]
- Man Stuff (A: Slugfest; B: Cut-Off Sleeves; C: Barbed Wire Tattoo; D: Lead, Follow, or Get Outta The Way; E: Police Sensitivity Training) [5:23]
- Kids and Parents (A: Children Are Overrated, B: They're Not All Cute, C: They're Not All Smart, D: Too Much Safety, E: Guns In School, F: School Uniforms, G: Kids Who Smoke, H: Anal Parents) [6:51]
- TV Tonight (A: Playboy Channel, B: Jerry Springer, C: Little House on the Prairie, D: Willie Nelson) [3:53]
- Names [4:23]
- Advertising Lullabye [sic] [2:37]
- American Bullshit [2:39]
- Businessmen [1:26]
- Religion [2:06]
- There Is No God [8:37]
HBO special (DVD chapters):
- Open [1:47]
- Airport Security [7:40]
- Fear of Germs [5:51]
- Cigars [1:40]
- Angels [1:08]
- Harley Davidson [1:26]
- The House of Blues [1:58]
- Minorities [2:14]
- Man Stuff [5:24]
- Kids and Parents [6:58]
- TV Tonight [4:06]
- Names [4:23]
- Advertising Lullaby [2:48]
- American Bullshit [2:45]
- Businessman [1:29]
- Religion [2:07]
- There Is No God [8:37]
- End Credits [0:59]
You Are All Diseased (1999)
HBO special and album
Recorded on February 6, 1999 at the Beacon Theater, NYC
Eardrum Records / Atlantic Recording Corporation / Wea International Inc.
Location sound by Terry Kulchar. Edited by Mike Stone. Mastered by Steve Hall at Future Disc, Hollywood CA. Art Direction & Design by Benjamin Niles. Special support and applause: Sally Wade.
I remember anxiously awaiting this show. I had my VCR all set and ready to record the live broadcast on HBO. And taped it, I did. If there's a performance of his that I've long considered to be Carlin's magnum opus, it's You Are All Diseased. The title itself appeared as a single line in Brain Droppings.
The album closes with two pieces that have since become Carlin classics: "Religion" and "There Is No God". I made a point in closing the very first episode of my podcast with these, and starting with the track "Angels". He had done an earlier version of these on the 40 Years of Comedy special, and I saw him do the pieces live on the road in 1998 or so. In fact when I saw him live, the piece was preceded by his rant on "American Bullshit", and the line he used to segue into the "Religion" piece was: "There's enough bullshit in the news media to fill a second Bible." By the time he recorded You Are All Diseased, he had changed the set to include the routine "Businessmen", which meant changing his segue line into "In the bullshit department, a businessman can't hold a candle to a clergyman."
You Are All Diseased was nominated in 2000 for the Grammy for Best Comedy Album, but lost to Chris Rock's Bigger & Blacker.
The liner notes to the You Are All Diseased album include several quotations:
- "Morality is the best of all devices for leading mankind by the nose." - Nietzsche
- "If you want to see the dregs of society, go down to the jail and watch the change of the guard." - Mark Twain
- "When a man ceases to believe in God, he does not believe in nothing. He believes in everything." - G.K. Chesterton
- "We're all hostages from hell, and all we can do is cry for mercy." - Marshall Efron
- "Paranoia - you only have to be right once to make it all worthwhile." - unknown
- "The right people never get hurt." - Reid Fleming: The World's Toughest Milkman
CD tracks and DVD chapters are numbered and named the same, except that the DVD includes a separate "End Credits" chapter:
- The Opening
- Traffic Accidents -- Keep Movin'!
- You & Me (Things That Come Off Of Your Body)
- People Who Ougta Be Killed: Self-Help Books
- Motivation Seminars
- Parents of Honor Students
- Baby Slings
- "My Daddy"
- Telephone Mimes
- Hands-Free Telephone Headsets
- Answering Machines
- Family Newsletters
- Music On Answering Machines
- People Who Wear Visors
- Singers With One Name
- Rich Guys In Hot Air Balloons
- People Who Misuse Credit Cards
- Guys Named Todd
- Gun Enthusiasts
- White Guys Who Shave Their Heads
- Why We Don't Need 10 Commandments
- End Credits [DVD only; the CD just combines these last two as tracks and fades out]
Complaints and Grievances (2001)
Recorded November 17, 2001 at the Beacon Theater, NYC
Eardrum Records / Atlantic Recording Corporation / Wea International Inc.
Location sound: Terry Kulchar. Edited and mastered by Greg Calbi for Sterling Sound, New York NY. Art Direction: JDK, Illustration: Winston Smith. Photography: Dan Dion.
I'm proud to say that I was actually at this show. I had shitty seats and an even shittier date, but there I was in the audience, watching it all as it was being recorded.
This was a very odd time in America, for one simple reason: 9/11. Here we all were in New York City, November 2001. It had been barely over two months since Muslim terrorists had hijacked airplanes for the umpteenth time, only this time to fly them into the World Trade Center. People were even more paranoid than usual. Various gas masks and survival kits were being sold. And everybody -- I mean everybody -- was sporting an American flag. Soldiers carrying machine guns were patrolling the airports. Was it OK to make jokes? What was OK to laugh at, and not laugh about? It might seem trivial now, but lots of comics were wrestling with these ideas at the time.
The originally planned title for the special was I Kinda Like It When a Lot of People Die. But after 9/11, Carlin realized he had to be realistic about the situation, and re-titled it Complaints and Grievances. An entire piece titled "I Kinda Like It When a Lot of People Die" was dropped from the set. The piece however was done later on Life is Worth Losing, re-titled to "Coast-to-Coast Emergency".
As Carlin explains in Last Words:
"Hard-core fans were probably hoping I'd do something about 9/11. I did mention it -- the elephant in the living room no one was talking about -- which got a kind of hopeful laugh. But I left it at that and kept the focus on strong observational stuff with the basic theme, Assholes of Our Time: "People Who Wear Visors", "Parents of Honor Students", "Guys Named Todd". And "Ten Commandments" killed.
But there was a hole in the show the size of Ground Zero."
The CD liner notes include a list of "Miscellaneous Ailments" in different font types and sizes, taken from the book Brain Droppings.
Some years later I saw Carlin live again where he did the "Visors" routine. Somebody in the audience was wearing a visor. We saw the guy take it off shortly after Carlin started the bit.
The album got a Grammy nomination in 2003 for Best Comedy Album, but lost to Robin Williams' Live 2002.
Napalm & Silly Putty (2001)
Book - Hyperion Publishing
Audio Books - High Bridge Audio, Audible.com
This is Carlin's second "major" book, and third book overall. As for the book's title, Carlin explains in the book's introduction:
"Sometime ago I was struck by the fact that, among many other wondrous things, Man has had the imagination to invent two such distinctly different products. One, a flaming, jellied gasoline used to create fire, death, and destruction; the other, a claylike mass good for throwing, bouncing, smashing, or pressing against a comic strip so you can look at a backwards picture of Popeye. I think the title serves as a fairly good metaphor for Man's dual nature, while also providing an apt description of the kinds of thoughts that occupy me, both in this book and in my daily life: on the one hand, I kind of like it when a lot of people die, and on the other I always wonder how many unused frequent-flier miles they had. The only difference between lilies and turds is whatever difference humans have agreed upon; and I don't always agree."
While most of the material in Brain Droppings was new, there's a lot of material in Carlin's Napalm & Silly Putty which showed up on one of his earlier albums or HBO specials. Usually the written versions here in the book have some variations to them.
An abridged, double-disc audio book of Napalm & Silly Putty was released, read by George Carlin. Then a second double-disc set called More Napalm & Silly Putty was released. The audio book won the 2002 Grammy for Best Comedy Album.
Although these four discs do cover a lot, there are still unfortunately plenty of pieces from the book that were left out. This includes one of my absolute favorite written pieces from Carlin, "Seven Death Wishes". As far as I know, no full, unabridged version of the book has ever been released.
To make matters more confusing, some sites have named the audio book tracks in a way that are either completely mismatched. Others use different names for the tracks than the titles used in the book. At some point I took the time to see what pages each track covers, what the name of the routine is, and what extra stuff was left out. (My main reason for doing this is because I play these tracks from time to time on my podcast, and I like to have an idea of what stuff from the book I've played and haven't played before.) So here are the names of each track, with the name as it's called in the book in [brackets] if it differs, and what pages it was taken from.
"Napalm & Silly Putty"
- Introduction/Rice Krispies [p19-20]
- Cats & Dogs ["A cat is not a Dog", p71-73]
- Last Meal ["Death Row" p87-88]
- Rants [short takes p8-11]
- Advertising Lullaby [from album, p54-55]
- Flying [p12-18]
- Sandwich ["The Good Bread" p113]
- Cars And Driving [p1-7]
- Jesus Christ [p60-68]
- Business 10 Steps [p25]
- Observations [short takes p43-45]
- Beliefs [short takes p45-46, p29-32]
- Fussy Eater [p132-134]
- Who's The Boss ["Heigh-ho..." p41-42]
- Warm And Cold ["Running Hot and Cold" (butter warmer) p134-135]
- Social Situations ["Five Uneasy Moments" p23-24]
- Vitamins ["A bedrock solid Alibi", p18-19]
- Pandas ["Maybe they'll Adopt" p82]
- Children [p33-36]
- Cookies [p7]
"Napalm & Silly Putty"
- Driving [p36-41]
- Rants [short takes p56-59]
- Airport Security [p47-49]
- Terrorism [continued, p49-p50]
- Fear Of Germs [p50-52]
- Wishing Wells ["I Wish I Had My Money Back" p68-69]
- Sex & Violence ["But first, this fuckin' message" p53]
- Dogs Don't Care [p73-75]
- Just For Fun [p124-125]
- Camcorder ["Smile!" p90-91]
- Sports [p106-109]
- Thoughts & Facts [short takes p76-79]
- Bullshit [including "Religion" p26-28]
- Death [Dying to Stay Alive, Ticket to Nowhere p118-119]
- Blue Food [p132]
- Declare War ["Golf courses for the homeless" p109-112]
- Death Penalty ["Current Events" p89]
- Thoughts [short takes p100-103]
- Supermarket [p130-131]
- Legal Advice ["The Unkindest Cut (OJ Simpson)" p89-90]
- Dogs & Forever [p80-81]
- Entropy & Disorder ["The Planet Is Fine, The People Are Fucked!" p94-99]
- Closing (not in book)
"More Napalm & Silly Putty"
- Introduction to Vol2 (not in book)
- Tell Claus [sic] I Said, "Hello" ["Love and Regards" p151-153]
- People Who Want To Know The Time [p163-167 (incomplete)]
- Favorite Period Of Time [continued, p167-168]
- Asylums [short takes, p245-248]
- Sports Is Big Business ["Sports should be Fixed: First Half" p212-214]
- The Evening News [p177-178]
- Ice Box Man [p135-137]
- Expressions ["Expressions I Question", p154-156]
- Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread [continued p156-157]
- Dogs Come In All Sizes [Dog Moments #3, p137-139]
- Abortion ["Not Every Ejaculation Deserves a Name" p222-225]
- Sanctity Of Life ["I've Got Your Sanctity of Life" p225-227]
- That's A Fine Howdoyado [short takes, p188-191]
- Airlines [High on the plane 203-207]
- 20th Century Hostilities [p236-238]
- Telling Time ["Face-to-Face with the Clock" p249-250]
- Little Moments ["Life's Little Moments" p185-186]
- Falling Asleep [continued p186-187]
- Dogs On TV [continued from disc two, track #5. "Give the Little Dog A Big Hand" p145-146]
- Nice Days [p147-149]
"More Napalm & Silly Putty"
- RainDances [+ elevator music] [p179, p158]
- Ugly Singers [Short Takes continued from track 401, p158-59]
- Secretary Of Being In The Closet [short takes continued, p160-161]
- Avant Garde Play [p162]
- My Dog [Dog Moments #4, p144-145]
- Saying "Hello" ["Hello-Goodbye" 149-151]
- No Complaining About Politicians [p234-246]
- No Brown In The Rainbow [short takes 169-171]
- Grandchildren [short takes p171-172]
- Meaning Of Life [short takes, p172]
- Religious People ["God Has Got To Go" - same as "You Are All Diseased", p250-254]
- Just Before You Die ["On The Beach: The Movie", p193]
- Euphemistic Language ["Euphemistic Bullshit" p197-202]
- Rip-Offs [short takes, p208-209]
- Bumper Sticker [continued, p209-211]
- A Proposition [House of blues p181-182]
- Britain's Return Of Hong Kong ["Where Was I Standing Last Time We Did This?" p185]
- Organ Donors ["Organ Donor Programs", "Plugging Along" p192-193]
- "Tippy" ["A Cracker Jack Meal" p146]
- Free Speech [The humorous side of rape p175-176]
- Committing The Perfect Double Murder [short takes p229-231]
- Fun You Can Have [short takes continued p231-232]
- Latest Disaster ["Ready or Not, Here We Come!" (Mars), p227]
- People I Can Do Without [p173-174]
- When I Was Young ["Beer and Pot" p202-203]
- Angels [also Harley Davidson or "Bike Frauds", p180-181]
- Henry The VIII ["A Day In The Life of Henry VIII" p183]
- The Red Sox (Socks) [short takes p140-142]
- Quicksand [continued short takes p142-143]
- Retired People ["Old and Stingy" p244]
- Monopoly [p267-269], PLUS a closing not from the book
Parts of the book NOT included
- Morning News, p21-22
- Punk Bands I Have Known, p69-70
- Flame Throwers, p81-82
- Miscellaneous Ailments, p83-86
- "Got Any More Leaves In That Stall?", p86-87
- Noontime News, p92-93
- Brave new world of science, p104-105
- Short takes, 114-117
- Death (cont'd), 119-124
- Short takes, p126-129
- Not Exactly Martha Stewart, p147
- Cancer is good for you, p174-175
- Cigars, p180
- (Royal) Families Worth Loathing, p184
- The 10 Most Embarrassing Songs of All Time, p187
- Suicide, 194-197
- Capital Punishment, p215-218
- State Prison Farms ("Farm System: Thugs, Pervs, Nuts, and Drunks") p218-221
- "I'll Be Right Back", p222
- Never Heard of Him, p228
- Sports Should Be Fixed: Second Half, p233-236
- Rockets and Penises In the Persian Gulf, p239-243
- At Lease Eat A Fuckin' Lima Bean, Will Ya? (bulimia, anorexia), p249
- Bullets for Believers, p254
- The Late Night News, p255-257
- I Never Fucked a 10, p258
- Short Takes, p259-262
- Sports Should Be Fixed: Overtime, p263-264
- Seven Death Wishes, p265-267
Includes the following HBO specials:
- On Location with George Carlin
- George Carlin: Again!
- Carlin on Campus
- Carlin at Carnegie
- Personal Favorites
The George Carlin Collection (2001)
DVD box set
This is not to be confused with the single album compilation of the same name, "The George Carlin Collection", released in the 80s. This is a DVD box set containing his first four HBO specials, plus the 1996 retrospective special "Personal Favorites". I think this was the first time that his first two specials had ever been released on any form.
- First Time Funny
- Early Influences
- Burns & Carlin
- Standing Alone
- The Vegas Incident
- Lenny Bruce
- The Writer
- The Big Change
- Writing Techniques
- The Laughter Reflex
- Trying Stuff Out
- Structuring the Act
- Physical Carlin
- Regional Differences
- Point of View
- Timing & Delivery
- Comedy and Pain
- The Business of Comedy
- Comedy's Evolution
Carlin on Comedy (2002)
Running time: 68 minutes
From the Laugh.com Comedy Recording Series
Back in 2000, George Carlin helped launch Laugh.com, a web site and record label designed to help distribute the works of various comedians, taking advantage of the growing household use of the Internet at the time. One of the many exclusive releases they made was the "...On Comedy" series. This was a series of interview discs of different famous comedians.
Carlin On Comedy is an interview of Carlin by Larry Wilde. There's no indication in the CD liner notes of when, exactly, the interview was done. The audio quality isn't all that great; it sounds like the recording was made on a simple tape recorder. It does offer some insight though into Carlin's writing process which I haven't heard elsewhere.
Includes the following titles:
- Playin' With Your Head
- What Am I Doing In New Jersey?
- Back In Town
- George’s Best Stuff
- You Are All Diseased
- Bonus DVD: "George on George"
Completely Carlin (2003)
DVD box set (5 discs)
This is a DVD box set consisting of most of the HBO titles that were left out of The George Carlin Collection. Also included here is George on George, a (then) new one-hour interview with Carlin, created exclusively for this collection.
Includes the following titles:
- Brain Droppings (2 discs)
- Napalm & Silly Putty (2 discs)
- More Napalm & Silly Putty (2 discs)
- Fresh Air Interview (1 disc, only in expanded edition)
George Carlin Reads to You (2004,2009)
Audio book box set (6 discs, later 7)
George Carlin Reads to You is a 6-disc box set containing all of the audio books which had been released up until that point: the two-disc Brain Droppings, the two-disc Napalm & Silly Putty, and the supplemental two-disc More Napalm & Silly Putty. The set was re-released in 2009 as a "New Expanded Edition" with a bonus disc containing -- no, not When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops?, but rather Carlin's NPR interview on Fresh Air with Terry Gross.
When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops? (2004)
Book: Hyperion Publishing
Audio book from Audible.com
This was Carlin's third and last "major" book (again, I don't really put his slim 1984 book Sometimes A Little Brain Damage Can Help in the same category, and neither did Carlin). Some of the new writings here are more surreal and twisted than the ones found in his first two books. It includes a mix of new material as well as routines that showed up on some different albums and HBO specials, before and after. Regardless, I remember how because of the title, some outlets like Wal-Mart wouldn't carry it, at least not at first.
I've noticed that Amazon.com at some point had a users' rating of about 3 out of 5 stars. After inspecting the reviews a little more closely, I noticed that a lot of what was driving down the rating was a high number of one-star reviews from angry Christians. But here's the funny thing: most of these reviews were written by people who 1) clearly had no knowledge of the book's contents; only its title, and 2) had never reviewed anything on Amazon.com before or since. It's pretty clear that these Christians made a mobilized effort to create Amazon.com accounts for the sole sake of giving this book (that they hadn't even read) a one-star rating. Or maybe it was one Christian who dedicated the time (maybe even a bot script) to do this.
How fucking low is THAT? If you have an Amazon.com account, do me favor: go to the page for this book, and find these 1-star reviews. I don't mean just any 1-star review, but the ones that were, again, written by people who clearly hadn't even read the book, and curiously have never reviewed any other items. When you find such a review, click on the link to report it for abuse. That's what I did on all these bogus "reviews". Maybe if other Carlin fans get on this, Amazon will remove them. While you're at it, give Carlin's stuff a HIGH rating and good reviews if you like them!
Audible.com released an unabridged audio version of the book, read by Carlin himself. It spans 7 discs. But despite being called "unabridged", I noticed that it's missing a piece or two, like "Count To A Billion".
- A Modern Man [3:53]
- Three Little Words [3:51]
- The Suicide Guy [7:06]
- Extreme Human Behavior [13:41]
- The All-Suicide TV Channel [3:13]
- Dumb Americans [10:56]
- Pyramid of the Hopeless [8:43]
- Autoerotic Asphyxia [4:54]
- Posthumous Female Transplants [3:34]
- Yeast Infection [4:38]
- Coast-to-Coast Emergency [6:51]
HBO special (DVD chapters):
- A Modern Man [5:03]
- Three Little Words [3:49]
- The Suicide Guy [6:49]
- Extreme Human Behavior [14:00]
- The All-Suicide Channel [2:04]
- Dumb Americans [7:18]
- Pyramid of the Hopeless [13:14]
- Autoerotic Asphyxia [5:39]
- Posthumous Female Transplants [3:05]
- Yeast Infection [0:38]
- Excess: Fires and Floods [4:04]
- Coast-to-Coast Emergency [6:40]
- End Credits [1:02]
Life Is Worth Losing (2006)
Album & HBO special
Recorded November 5, 2005. Released January 10, 2006.
Location Sound: Tom Holmes. Edited and Mastered by: Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound, NYC. Design: Mindy Ryu. A&R Director: Andy Karp. Product Manager: Nikki Hirsch. Management: Jerry Hamza for George Carlin Production. Legal: Suzanne Phillips.
The show ends with the big closing tracks "Excess: Fires and Floods" (which on the CD version is rolled into the "Yeast Infection" track), and "Coast-to-Coast Emergency". This whole piece was originally called "I Kinda Like It When a Lot of People Die", and was planned for his 2001 special, which was even going to be titled the same. However, the 2001 special happening in New York and just two months after 9/11, the routine was renamed and shelved until this release.
A few months before the HBO special was recorded, I saw Carlin do a similar set live in New Hampshire. Some people really didn't even know what to make of the whole "Coast-to-Coast Emergency" routine, and one asshole from the audience even yelled "You suck!"
The album was nominated for a Grammy in 2007, but lost to Lewis Black's double album, The Carnegie Hall Performance.
A number of other tracks here would show up later in written form, as part of the bonus material in 3xCarlin: An Orgy of George.
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