“I have as much authority as the pope. I just don’t have as many people who believe it.”
George Carlin was the tits, and the bee’s knees wearing the Cat’s Pajama’s. Possibly the greatest political comedian of all time, and, I would argue, the greatest political pundit of all time.
I loved the guy because he perfectly illustrates the purpose and effect of comedy. The purpose of comedy is to give people the ability to look at the shitty parts of life and laugh. The effect is euphoria in the face of the true horror of life; Hemingway’s grace under pressure. Rather than fighting the disagreeable aspects of life, comedians embrace them and laugh at them.
George Carlin applied this to the realm of political humor better than anyone! Our political community is so shitty, so deplorable and beyond repair, that rather than fight back George implores us all to go along with it and welcome the destruction of our political and cultural infrastructure. And the man’s damn persuasive.
“Honesty may be the best policy, but it’s important to remember that apparently, by elimination, dishonesty is the second-best policy.”
It is for exactly this reason that I think he did have as much authority as the pope. At least his fans gave him such repute. The past 50 yrs of American history is filled with political unrest and, some would argue, cultural degradation. With his detached, nihilistic voice, he assured us that there was stability in embracing instability, certainty within uncertainty.
But his comedy and nihilistic outlook were his weapons in his battle against Life, or more accurately Death.
This quote and George Carlin’s life proves a very important point. It is not our station that necessarily gives us authority, nor the vestments we wear, nor the important people you mingle with. Rather, it’s our adherence to Truth that gives us authority.
I remember the first time I fell in love with George Carlin’s work was from his “I’m a modern man…” speech. That wasn’t just comedy, it was poetry. Every sentence in that speech connected with me to the point where I frantically searched all of his YouTube videos until I’d exhausted them all. He gained a lifelong fan.
If he were just funny, he probably would have faded into comic obscurity. If he just complained about the times, he would have been forgotten about when times changed. But there is truth in his premise, which is embracing the dark parts of life and extracting value from them (even if it’s just a good laugh).
That’s what I think people really connected to. And that is the connection I someday hope to build.
And now, I leave you with part of my favorite George Carlin quote.
“I’m a modern man, a man for the millennium. Digital and smoke free. A diversified multi-cultural, post-modern deconstruction that is anatomically and ecologically incorrect. I’ve been up linked and downloaded, I’ve been inputted and outsourced, I know the upside of downsizing, I know the downside of upgrading. I’m a high-tech low-life. A cutting edge, state-of-the-art bi-coastal multi-tasker and I can give you a gigabyte in a nanosecond!”