George Carlin's American Dream (2022) s01e01 Episode Script

Part 1

1 - DIRECTOR: And speeding.
I know how to start I want to start this.
- DIRECTOR: We're rolling.
- GEORGE: Uh Oh, rolling.
Let's get in.
- GEORGE: You're good? DIRECTOR: Yep.
One more time.
And action.
Here's another civic superstition I have a problem with.
" Boy, everybody in this country is always running around yammering about their rights.
"I have a right.
" "You have no right.
" "We have a right.
" "They don't have a right.
" "The government has a right.
" Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Listen, folks, I hate to spoil your fun, but there's no such thing as rights, okay? We made them up.
They're imaginary, like the boogeyman, the three little pigs, Pinocchio, stuff like that.
It's fictional.
Fictional idea, rights.
People say, "Well, they come from God.
They're God-given rights.
" Oh, fuck, here we go again.
The God excuse, the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument.
"It came from God.
" But let's say it's true.
Let's say it's true that God gave us these rights.
Fine, why would he give us a certain number of rights? The Bill of Rights in this country has ten stipulations, ten rights.
And by the way, God must have been doing sloppy work 'cause we've had to amend the Bill of Rights an additional 17 times.
God left out a few things, like slavery.
Just fucking overlooked it that day.
(INTENSE HIP-HOP BEAT PLAYING) ♪ GEORGE: Doesn't sound like divine planning to me.
Sounds more like one group trying to control another group.
In other words, business as usual in the USA.
ANNOUNCER 1: Here's George Carlin.
ANNOUNCER 2: Legendary comedian George Carlin.
- George Carlin.
- Hey, baby, what's happening? By far, you're easily one of the greatest comedians ever.
All I could think of was shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, - motherfucker, and tits, man.
KAMAU BELL: Carlin changed comedy three or four times in his career.
And he still seems to be talking to us.
Pro-life conservatives are obsessed with a fetus from conception to nine months, but once you're born, you're on your own.
- (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) - KAMAU: Because George Carlin bits are still being shared on social media "to go, " You don't understand how rights work? Look at this bit.
" "You don't understand how privilege works? Look at this bit.
" GEORGE: This country's only 200 years old and already we've had ten major wars.
- So we're good at it! - (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) GEORGE: And it's a good thing we are.
We're not very good at anything else anymore.
Got no steel industry left, can't educate our young people, can't get health care to our old people, but we can bomb the shit out of your country, all right.
Comedy, traditionally, has picked on people in power, people who abuse their power.
I don't like orthodoxy of the left any more than I like orthodoxy of the right.
I don't like anyone trying to control the language and behavior of people.
These moral commandos who want us to think their way and want to change what we can hear and see and think in this country are dangerous.
It's called freedom of choice, and it's one of the principles this country was founded upon.
Look it up in the library, Reverend, if you have any of them left when you finish burning all the books.
(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) It's a big club, and you ain't in it.
People will say to me sometimes, "Well, what are you so angry about?" Has everybody lost their fucking mind - in this country? - (AUDIENCE APPLAUDING) GEORGE: What they think is anger is a real contempt for the choices that my fellow humans have made.
I just feel betrayed by the bullshit in America that's all around us.
I call it the freak show.
When you're born into this world, you're given a ticket to the freak show.
When you are born in America, you're given a front-row seat.
(MUSIC FADES) ♪ HOST: So, fasten your seat belts, ladies and gentlemen, get ready for Mr.
George Carlin.
(AUDIENCE APPLAUDING) There are thousands of comedians in this country, but basically, only two types of humor.
There's the old school and the new school.
I think we recognize them both.
The old school is largely made up of the fast-paced stand-up comedians, the one-liner comics who came from vaudeville and burlesque, and they comprise the insult school of humor.
Jack E.
Leonard is a good example of this.
(DEEP VOICE) "Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen.
" I'd just like to say it's good to be back in New York this weekend.
It's a wonderful town.
Thank you very much.
You got some lovely girls here compared to the last place I worked.
Some of the broads there were so ugly that if you wanted to pay 'em a compliment you had to say, "How do you do? I see your face cleared up.
" (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) GEORGE: I began with this very mainstream dream.
Fifth grade, 11 years old, the autobiography, the last page, "What do you want to be," said, "disc jockey, comedian, actor, big success.
" I didn't know what this would lead to.
I only knew that I loved standing up in front of people and having their attention.
I grew up in New York.
Whenever I'm back in town I like to visit nostalgic places from my childhood.
I was from a neighborhood, we called it White Harlem.
It was right next to Harlem and Columbia University.
We called it White Harlem because that sounded bad, you know? The real name was Morningside Heights.
(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) We had Columbia University and Juilliard and two seminaries - right near us.
- INTERVIEWER: Wow! GEORGE: I grew up with a great respect for knowledge and love of it, you know, just thirst for it.
The neighborhood is very mixed.
Right next to the Spanish and the Black ghetto, Harlem, and the lower-middle-class Irish neighborhood where I grew up.
(NEW YORK ACCENT) This was the way the guys in my neighborhood talked.
This here is your third-generation Irish voice.
All the cops in New York have this voice, right? You heard the voice.
"Come on, Johnny, move along here.
Come on, let's go.
Where you going, Johnny?" They call everyone Johnny.
Notice that? Even your mother, right? "I'm his mother.
" "Never mind, Johnny, get off the corner there.
" (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) GEORGE: My father, whom I didn't know, was gifted verbally.
He was a natural comedian with a line of shit that wouldn't quit.
He was an after-dinner speaker.
He won the Dale Carnegie speakers contest, over 600 and something other entrants.
My mother could tell stories.
They both did character voices when they would tell you an anecdote, so it was in the genes and it was around the house.
And neither of them took any shit from the world.
But he was a drinker and he was a bully.
She called him a street angel and a house devil.
And she didn't want to have happen to me what happened to my brother.
He was beaten.
My mom says that the sex was wonderful.
And the other part was horrible.
And he would lay in there, man.
And I would just grit my teeth and think, you know, "I hate you.
I hate you.
" So, one night when she had fled from him temporarily to her father's house, my grandfather on 112th Street And we had to get out of that house.
My father was trying to batter the fucking door down.
She took me in her arms, two months, that's what she says, he was five years old, my brother.
She went out the window onto the fire escape.
And my old man was trying to tear the fucking door off the hinges and we jump into my uncle's car, and he drives us up here to the Catskills where we hid out.
And we were vagabonds for about two or three years until she found an apartment and we established a little she called it our little home.
After their separation Catholics didn't get divorced.
They could, but only the rich ones.
He died when I was eight years old.
His first symptom of heart disease was a trip to the cemetery.
(EXPLOSION) ANNOUNCER: George Carlin reporting the news at six o'clock.
Looks like we're about to win the war after all.
A new bomb is quote-unquote the XYZ Bomb.
It's a wonderful bomb and it can blow up the whole world.
GEORGE: I was growing up in World War II and post-war New York City, being raised by a single mother who had a great gift and love of language, and who imparted that to me.
But I was alone in the house.
My mother had to work.
Did you grow up feeling deprived, lonely? I didn't feel that.
I was alone a lot, but I enjoyed that.
Something in my makeup accepted that and thrived on it.
("THE LONE RANGER OPENING THEME" PLAYING) GEORGE: So I would sometimes fix my own spaghetti, listen to The Lone Ranger.
That was my family, the people on radio.
LONE RANGER: Hi-yo, Silver! Away! GEORGE: I was attracted to the comedians on radio, and when I was able to get to the movies, Danny Kaye and Bob Hope and Red Skelton, I just wanted to be someone like that.
(SPEAKING FRENCH) GEORGE: So I began the dream of being Danny Kaye.
When Paul Haakon starts in fakin' ♪ When he's makin' with the shakin' ♪ And Paul Draper starts a vapor on the floors ♪ GEORGE: He was musically funny, he could make funny faces.
He was incredibly adept, verbally.
My friends and my family ♪ Looked at me clammily ♪ Thought there was something amiss ♪ GEORGE: And I thought to myself, "I could do that.
That would be good to do.
" - (SCREAMS) - (CROWD LAUGHING) GEORGE: George Carlin in the Waldorf-Astoria lobby.
There's a lot of celebrities here tonight.
We're having a banquet for William Randolph Hearst Jr.
Stay tuned for Brooklyn Dodger baseball.
(MIMICKING RADIO STATIC) It's a homerun, folks.
Roy Campanella wins the ballgame for the Dodgers.
That was his sickest game on record.
We ran in a gang.
There was about ten, 11, 12 of us.
When I was a little boy in New York City in the 1940s, - we swam in the Hudson River.
- RANDY JURGENSEN: And we would swim in the Hudson River.
GEORGE: And it was filled with raw sewage, okay? We swam in raw sewage, - you know, to cool off.
- (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) RANDY: Police would patrol the neighborhoods for kids that got into trouble, and you'd get what they called a juvenile delinquent card.
Thousands of kids died from polio every year, but you know something? In my neighborhood, no one ever got polio.
No one.
You know why? - 'Cause we swam in raw sewage.
- (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) We got caught, and they stood us up on line.
It strengthened our immune systems.
The polio never had a prayer, we were tempered in raw shit.
(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) I gave a name.
I can't remember what name I gave.
And then alongside of me, there were two others, and they gave false names.
Now, George is fourth down the line, and they say to George, "What is your name?" And he says, "Randy Jurgensen.
" (CHUCKLES) He gave He gave them He gave them my real name.
(YOUNG GEORGE MIMICKING RADIO CHATTER) Be on the lookout for three juvenile delinquents.
One named George Carlin.
I started out with little sounds, any kind of sound.
(GARBLED NOISES) - Anything I could - (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) - (MIMICS PIGEON COOS) - (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) We called that doing a pigeon.
"Hey, can you do pigeon?" (MIMICS PIGEON COOS) I'm sure when the pigeon first came to New York, it had a real nice song.
(MIMICS BIRD TRILLING) A few years in the city? - (EXHALES, MIMICS PIGEON COOS) - (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) GEORGE: Class clown is really the first time you get it together, being a comedian, and you'd set about disrupting the class by (GRANDIOSE VOICE) attracting attention to yourself! - (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) - GEORGE: (NORMAL VOICE) That is the name of this job.
It's called, dig me.
(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) Stoops like this were my first real stage.
I wasn't very good at fighting.
My three talents were stealing, lying, and entertaining.
I grew up with that at the end of my street, a 28-story Gothic phallic symbol with bells in the head.
I used to be an Irish Catholic.
I'm still Irish, but I haven't really been back as an active Catholic for a long time.
But I grew up in a parish with all the things that go with being an Irish kid in New York in an Irish parish.
It was Corpus Christi.
This is where I went to school, Corpus Christi.
(DOOR RATTLING) I think I saw religion as the first big betrayal.
PRIEST: An act of spiritual communion GEORGE: I remember at First Communion, when I was seven years old, they said, "You're gonna feel different.
" PRIEST: and of the Holy Spirit.
GEORGE: "And you will be in the state of grace," and you will feel God's presence," and all this.
And I thought, "None of that happened.
" And I began to see that they were lying to me.
PRIEST: attempted to lead me astray.
GEORGE: From then on, I really never believed much in authority.
And I think I'm right.
GEORGE: (OVER RECORDING) Testing, testing, testing.
Testing, testing, testing, testing.
My own experience of authority is one of opposition to, not just questioning authority, but actively opposing it, and trying to undo what it had in mind.
Everything that had rules and regulations, I managed to either get kicked out of or leave early on my own, the choir, the altar boys, the Boy Scouts, summer camp, and schools.
I quit high school in ninth grade, and I was a pot smoker when I was 13.
These were things where I was saying, "Your values suck.
" I don't buy that authority comes on a direct line from God through my parents, through my church people, or the policemen or any of that.
All authority comes from within.
"All my power comes from within.
" PATRICK CARLIN: He was cool, and he was himself, but my mother was clamping down on him.
And it was much tougher for him to break away from her than me because of her wanting to hold on.
She said to him one time, and I thought it was so fucking sad, but it's how people are, she said, "You made up for every bad thing you ever did when you became a star.
" And I thought to myself, "Well, I'm glad, but goddamn it, that's pretty fucking pathetic.
" GEORGE: I had a mother who tried to control my life, who had a plan for me.
"I'm going to make something out of that boy.
" And that's what repelled me from her.
It was this feeling, "You are a reflection on me.
" She was a drama queen and a narcissist.
- "You'll pay someday, mister " - (BANGING ON TABLE) "You'll pay for what you have done to me.
" You have let me down, and I am through with you.
"You are out of my life.
" PATRICK: I loved her for her toughness, but George had to get away because she would stifle him.
She would have sucked the blood right out of him.
So he said the minute he was 17, he was going.
And he sent me a little manila folder.
Just a small one, a little bigger than a Christmas card.
And he wrote on it in a marker, "For those days when everything has got you down.
" And when you open it up, there was a photo of my father's gravestone.
(LAUGHS) Ain't that beautiful? (JET ENGINES ROARING) GEORGE: So, I got in the Air Force, and I made a plan very early in life.
I thought, "Well, if I can become a disc jockey, then I can go to nightclubs in that town, and I can become a comedian.
And if I get good enough, they'll have to let me in the movies.
" But you became a disc jockey while you were in the Air Force? Yeah, it happened that someone was looking out for me.
I was just 18, and I was in the Air Force serving out my time in Louisiana.
SINGERS: George Carlin is on the air ♪ GEORGE: And the number one radio station in town hired me.
SINGERS: On the George Carlin show ♪ GEORGE: Eighteen minutes before five o'clock.
This is music from Carlin's Corner.
And that ain't half of it.
Thirty dollars is the lucky license jackpot, a call going out soon.
Coming up, Warren Storm with "Trouble.
" ("TROUBLES, TROUBLES" BY WARREN STORM PLAYING) ♪ GEORGE: Once I got the job in the Air Force, they thought, "Well, that's pretty good for the Air Force Base" to have a guy who's being productive, "and not just knocking up local girls.
" You know? But I rebelled.
I happened to wind up with three court martials.
Falling asleep on guard duty during a unit-simulated combat mission.
Failure to obey a lawful order.
Well, what are you gonna do? (CHUCKLING) And thirdly, showing a certain amount of disrespect to a non-commissioned officer.
GEORGE: (OVER RADIO) This is Warren Storm and his brand new one "Troubles, Troubles," the K-JOE GEORGE: (ONSTAGE) I joined for four years, and I only lasted for three years - because it wasn't working out.
- (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) GEORGE: You've had those relationships.
The Air Force and I sat down and they said, - "Why don't you go home?" - (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) GEORGE: The name of the game in radio is move to the bigger market, so I went to Fort Worth.
RADIO ANNOUNCER: Fifteen minutes creeping up toward eight o'clock.
This is KXOL GEORGE: So, I'm down there, and I'm just doing my DJ show, and Jack Burns, he became my nighttime newsman.
Jack and I realized we had a great comic affinity.
We would do little impromptu skits.
They were great.
We knew we had this thing.
(CAR ENGINE STARTS) Nineteen sixty.
I took a brand-new Dodge Dart, and we drove to California with 300 dollars.
JACK BURNS: Thank you.
My name is Jack Burns.
This is my partner, Mr.
George Carlin.
GEORGE: And we got up on stage every night.
JACK: So, we'd like to show you now a meeting of the Southgate Mothers Club on a Monday afternoon.
GEORGE: (ROUGH VOICE) Hi, I'd like to welcome yous all to the Southgate Mother's Club.
KLIPH NESTEROFF: When George Carlin first met Jack Burns, he was more influenced politically by his mother than anybody else, and his mother was very conservative.
GEORGE: Now, Jack came along and I heard lots of different things.
KLIPH: And here was this sort of raging liberal artist type who believed in civil rights, who believed in equality, who did not trust the government.
And this had a huge influence on George Carlin.
GEORGE: Those doors opened for me with Jack, and in that year.
Why didn't you take your rooster up there? - He chickened out.
- (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) PAUL PROVENZA: And show business itself was transitioning.
You had old school entertainers doing mainstream stuff.
Are there any groups I haven't offended? I always like to ask that.
PAUL: You also had Mort Sahl.
You also had Nichols and May and Second City.
(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) PAUL: Lenny Bruce had had a big impact.
Cut to the toy store.
PAUL: They were redefining the stand-up form.
It was no longer going to be Might be your kid who walked in that day.
just a guy getting up telling jokes.
Nice store you got here.
Uh Give me a nickel's worth of pencils and a big boy tablet and some erasers and 2,000 tubes of airplane glue.
(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) It was people speaking from the heart and voicing their opinion.
The last time I saw you, I told you this.
After watching you again and again I really got to know him when I was shooting The Aristocrats.
The Aristocrats.
PAUL: It became the kind of friendship where he wouldn't call me to pick him up at the airport, but he would call me to tell me a joke out of the blue.
When Burns and I, Burns and Carlin, were together in Chicago in those early years PAUL: And he told me that he was influenced by Lenny Bruce at an early point.
His love for Lenny was unbelievable in I'm sure somebody's told you the story about his arrest.
Yeah? LENNY BRUCE: This is the first time they made a fuss straight in the audience PAUL: It was the night when Lenny Bruce was arrested for obscenity.
LENNY: Oh, shit.
I didn't (LAUGHS) PAUL: George happened to be in the audience, and according to George, the police came around and asked all the patrons to show ID and what have you.
GEORGE: I said, "I don't believe in ID.
" PAUL: He got arrested as well.
And he got thrown in the back of a police car with Lenny.
GEORGE: The police went after him because the Catholic Church wanted him silenced.
And George told him, "I refused to show my ID you know, "in solidarity," whatever.
And Lenny turned to him and said, "Shmuck.
" GEORGE: (OVER RADIO) Hey, kids! Today is absolutely the last day to send for your Captain Jack and Jolly George Junior Junkie Kit! GEORGE: (NARRATING) We found a coffeehouse called Cosmo Alley.
GEORGE: (OVER RADIO) Why is this the last day? I'll tell you why, kids.
We were down in Tijuana, and our dealer has been busted by the fuzz! - JACK: Yeah! - GEORGE: (NARRATING) Well, Lenny came in, and he loved us.
(OVER RADIO) I'll tell ya, kids, Captain Jack and I shared a half a bag, shot it up just before the show.
I tell ya, I'm twisted, kids.
Look at my eyes, huh? - One taste, kids, and I'm stoned.
- JACK: Yeah! GEORGE: (NARRATING) Suddenly, we got a telegram that said (READS PROMPT) JACK: Most of the advertising today that you see on television emanates from that gray flannel leper colony, Madison Avenue.
GEORGE: That's the magic of how this all happened so quickly.
JACK: And we'd like to show you first the conversation as it occurs in real life, and then that same conversation as you see it on your television screen.
This is the real-life conversation.
Oh, hi, George.
- Oh, hey.
How you doing? - How's the gums? - All right.
- Good, good.
Uh, what is that? You got a new 1961 compact car there, huh? Yeah, got one of the new Compos.
JACK: That's the way it goes in real life.
This is the way that same conversation comes out on your television screen.
(SCATTERED LAUGHTER) I see you got the new 1961 Compo, America's most wanted compact car.
That's right, Jack, and lucky me.
(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) BRENDA CARLIN: There was a club called Racquet Club in Dayton.
And I was like a hostess.
That's how I met George.
- He was performing there? - BRENDA: That's right.
The very first night he came up to me, his line to me was, "Where does a guy go in a town like this after the club closes?" And my line back to him was, "Well, you find some girl with a stereo - and an apartment," which was me.
- (INTERVIEWER CHUCKLING) And I took him home for two weeks.
INTERVIEWER: Two weeks? Did you have trouble with your stereo? No, I don't know if we turned it on.
(CHUCKLES) George fascinated me.
He was so different than I was.
- He was from Manhattan.
BRENDA: And street gangs, and West Side Story, and all of this stuff.
He started calling me, and I started calling him.
And then the letters went back and forth.
(SOFT UPBEAT MUSIC PLAYING) ♪ I knew we had a relationship and something very special.
But I also knew that George was just starting his career.
And I was trying to be very adult about the relationship.
All of a sudden, he walked in the club, and I mean, it was just, you know, the music, where the violins started, and we ran into each other's arms.
(CHUCKLES) And I say five weeks.
George says seven weeks, maximum that we knew each other, being together before we got married.
And I immediately stopped working and went on the road with George.
(MUSIC CONCLUDES) ♪ JACK: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the second show of the evening.
GEORGE: Jack Burns and I broke up two years after we formed the act because he wanted to go to Second City, and I wanted to be a single.
ANNOUNCER: Now it's with great pleasure that the Gate of Horn presents GEORGE: So I continued to work from the Burns and Carlin momentum.
ANNOUNCER: Bruce Carlin? George Carlin.
(AUDIENCE APPLAUDING) GEORGE: When you're beginning in comedy BRENDA: George opened tonight at the Gate of Horn.
GEORGE: recently having begun BRENDA: He did two shows.
Both were great.
GEORGE: You'll have to decide what form of comedy you want to follow.
BRENDA: (READS PROMPT) GEORGE: the good from all of them, start with that BRENDA: GEORGE: First the old line stand-up fast-paced insults BRENDA: GEORGE: Here is another idea.
Ha-ha, he said, with a beautiful transition.
BRENDA: George opens in Omaha, Nebraska, tonight.
KELLY CARLIN: My mother was his biggest champion.
She could see the power of other people.
She just had a real way of lifting people up and believing in them.
And I can only imagine this young comic knowing that he had all the potential in the world, he really believed in himself, and then to have a woman come into his life and say, "I'm on your team.
We're gonna do this together.
" They were comrades in arms.
(UPBEAT MUSIC PLAYING) ♪ KELLY: They were really cute and goofy and sweet with each other.
He called her Dinky, and he was Dawdy.
So, I grew up in the backseat of the Dodge Dart, and I was going to gigs when I was a baby.
GEORGE: Thank you for that, uh, wonderful round of indifference.
KELLY: And in those early days - GEORGE: Is this on? - (TAPPING ON MICROPHONE) KELLY: they were starving artists.
GEORGE: Hey, if I ever need an audience - to keep me humble, you're it.
- (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) (CHUCKLING) No, if I get cocky, I'll call you in, you know? (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) JOHN F.
KENNEDY: Frustration and discord are burning in every city, in demonstrations and protests.
We face, therefore, a moral crisis as a country and a people.
It cannot be met by repressive police action.
It cannot be left to increased demonstrations in the streets.
It cannot be quieted by token moves or talk.
NEWS ANCHOR: Political extremism in America is not something new.
We took our cameras to a meeting of the John Birch Society, the most well-known of a large number of organizations that place themselves to the extreme far right of the political spectrum.
The name is Lyle Higley.
I'm the head of the local chapter of the John Birch Society.
I invited the head of the Ku Klux Klan, the Grand Imperial Almighty Omnipotent Invincible Stomper.
And I'd just like to address my remarks in the Northern Commuliberal Pinko press.
(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) GEORGE: I have been living in the South for 27 years, and I've never seen a cross burning on anybody's lawn.
I've seen whole neighborhoods go up.
(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) GEORGE: In 1961, John Kennedy brought humor back to the White House, along with a lot of football equipment, and a bunch of relatives.
(IMITATING KENNEDY) Thank you very much.
On behalf of the Attorney General, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the members of the Supreme Court, - and the rest of my family - (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) GEORGE: Stories have recently been appearing in the press that Mr.
Khrushchev and I are planning another series of summit conferences.
- (CONTINUES INDISTINCTLY) - (QUIET MUSIC PLAYING) ♪ GEORGE: When you're not known and when you're doing something a little avant-garde, most run-of-the-mill, rank-and-file citizens didn't know, didn't care.
Didn't understand.
I can remember doing the supper show.
That means there are still dishes on the table.
Stone silence, practically, having to do 25 minutes.
And the only reason you don't lose heart is because you remember the good nights.
REPORTER: From Dallas, Texas.
The flash, apparently official, President Kennedy died at 1:00 p.
Central Standard Time.
BRENDA: The events of this past weekend have left me stunned.
I feel so sorry for Jackie Kennedy.
(READS LETTER) (MUSIC FADES) ♪ GEORGE: I said, "I've got to take a stand in New York.
" I've got to do television here.
I have to figure this out.
" There were no comedy clubs.
There were only coffee houses.
Coffee houses had hootenannies, and they had an open mic amateur night.
INTERVIEWER: And you developed a lot of your own single stuff at the Cafe Au Go Go, was it? Down in Greenwich Village.
Yeah, I got tired of going out to Indianapolis and Detroit and St.
Louis for one week, and not having anything to show for it.
You spend all your money traveling.
So I decided to stay in New York for a year, and work at one club where I could develop my style and my material.
And it happened in Greenwich Village at the Go Go.
This is the theater where I first did television for Merv Griffin, - where it really began.
The Indian Sergeant was the first character.
He used to work with a partner, and now, he's on his own.
Another of television's tadpoles, the kind of talent always welcome around here.
Would you all meet young George Carlin.
George? - (BAND MUSIC PLAYING) ♪ - (AUDIENCE APPLAUDING) Uh I've been watching the Westerns.
All of us have been watching Western movies, an endless stream of them, for our entire lives, and I've noticed something about them.
When the Westerns involve Indians, and sometimes they don't, sometimes it's Brian Donlevy with a black hat and a crooked card game.
- (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) - But when they involved Indians, the big scene always seems to be when the Indians finally attack the cowboys.
You always see exactly how the cowboys prepare for this attack.
We never see how the Indians prepare.
(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) "All right, all the tall guys over by the trees.
" (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) "Fat guys down behind the rocks.
" (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) "You with the beads, out of the line.
" (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) "All right, knock off the horseplay.
" Come on, knock off the horseplay.
Come on, you guys over there playing with the horse, - will you knock it off?" - (AUDIENCE LAUGHING, APPLAUDING) GEORGE: There'll be a rain dance Friday night.
- Weather permitting.
- (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) GEORGE: I got my Merv Griffin and they gave me three more shots.
ANNOUNCER: Here is George Carlin.
GEORGE: I had been working for a year-and-a-half just to get five minutes together, and suddenly there were these three dates staring at me within a month.
Thank you very much.
I found out I had to start writing stuff at a very fast rate.
Right now, we're sending it out for a little under three feet tall.
- Happy 35th birthday, Linda.
- (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) GEORGE: I did the disc jockey.
It's a brand new one.
It's called, "Your face cleared up.
" Then I did a newscast, news, sports, and weather.
Again, demonstrations and protests dominate the headlines.
The draft card burners are at it again.
Not content with burning their individual draft cards, several demonstrators today set fire to the Pentagon.
(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) I saw him early.
With a suit and tie, and it was just he was sparkling.
- HOST: How you feel? - (EXAGGERATED ACCENT) Wonderful.
I'll tell you one thing.
(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) - What I said was good? - HOST: Very good, yes.
ROBERT KLEIN: He was likeable immediately.
HOST: I could talk like that too.
- GEORGE: Can you? - (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) And I think that George Carlin is one of two autodidacts in American comedy, that is to say, people who are self-taught, George and Groucho Marx.
I think George proved in many ways how intelligent he was, and how interested he was in the world around him.
I really haven't been to the movies in an awfully long time.
I think the last movie I saw was West Side Story, and I was really disappointed with that because I'm from the West Side, and I understood these kids were supposed to be tough in the movie.
I mean, two people get killed in the movie.
They should be tough kids, but it didn't come off like that.
It was kind of a - (MIMICS UPBEAT MUSIC) - (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) "Come on, let's go get them.
Let's go get those guys.
Let's go get them and kill them, but first we're going to dance.
" (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) - (MUSIC PLAYING) ♪ - (AUDIENCE APPLAUDING) GEORGE: In order for me to follow this mainstream dream, I had to play their game, which was, you had to get on variety shows.
So I went to Hollywood in 1966 with Kelly and Brenda, and I did the Kraft Summer Music Hall.
Hi, I am John Davidson.
Welcome to the Kraft Summer Music Hall.
We've got some wonderful guests tonight, but of course, the whole gang is right here.
So, let's meet them, huh? George Carlin.
The Lively Set.
And our guest, Mr.
Richard Pryor.
Ladies and gentlemen, you've met our two comedians, George Carlin and Richard Pryor.
- That's right.
- Guys, earlier, when you were doing your routines, at first I was watching you, - like a nice guy.
- Yeah, yeah.
And then I found that it was much more fun to watch the audience.
- The audience? - Watch the audience? - Yes.
- While we're working? Should we leave now, Richie, man? Let's go.
- No.
- (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) What I mean is I found it was much more fun to watch the audience, because you can see the different ways that people laugh.
- Have you ever noticed that? - Oh, yeah.
You must notice that in the nightclubs, right? Yeah, well, I have always - noticed 'em and I have - Oh yeah, I do.
What? You go ahead and I'll watch the audience.
- (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) - Well, uh, first of all, there's the neat, precise laugher.
Have you seen him.
It's like (CHUCKLES) He's really breaking up, just the way accountants laugh.
They like to keep it neat.
- (LAUGHS RESTRAINEDLY) - (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) I once worked a whole convention of accountants.
Richard, what's your favorite kind of laughter? Well, I got a laugh.
I don't know if it's my favorite, but it's one I hear above everyone else's, sort of a witch's laugh - (CACKLES) - (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) - Kind of scares you (CACKLES) - (LAUGHING CONTINUES) But I've never worked for a convention of witches.
(LAUGHS EXAGGERATEDLY) Hey, look at that.
Once again, the big hand is on the five, the little hand is on the six, and it's time for the 11 o'clock report.
- (AUDIENCE LAUGHING, APPLAUDING) - First of all, the headlines.
Russia and the United States are at war.
Missiles have been fired by both sides.
Moscow, New York, and London are in flames.
Details on these and other stories in just a moment after the report.
KLIPH: In the 1960s, one of the main genres - of television - Hello? - Kraft Summer Music Hall.
- was the variety show.
I'm sure in the greenroom and after work, they probably had a lot of fun smoking joints together, but they could not be subversive on the show if they had wanted to be.
to Al Sleet, the hippie-dippy weatherman.
- "Hey, baby, what's happening?" - (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) And, so, we always talk about fascist politicians speaking with a dog whistle sentence.
George Carlin had these dog whistles for hippies.
Al Sleet here, your hippie-dippy weatherman with all the hippie-dippy weather.
KLIPH: Just that voice is the voice of a guy who has taken a huge bong hit.
- (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) - One, two, three, four, five.
If your parents were watching that on Ed Sullivan or Perry Como, they don't know that, but the kids know that.
They're like, "He is stoned.
This character is stoned.
He's high.
" Now, if you take a look at our weather map over - (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) - here, you'll notice that this warm front extends from Virginia to Tennessee With all the love that's in ya ♪ (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) Okay, the radar's picking up a line of thundershowers from Munich to New York to Middletown.
However, the radar is also picking up - a squadron of Russian ICBMs.
- (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) So I wouldn't sweat the thundershowers.
(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) Tonight's low, 25 degrees.
Tomorrow's high, whenever I get up.
Ha! (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) GEORGE: We're here talking with young Kelly Carlin.
(KELLY SPEAKING INDISTINCTLY) GEORGE: I didn't even have to wait.
Like a woman, she interrupted.
- KELLY: You want apple? - BRENDA: Apple? - GEORGE: Apple? - KELLY: Apple.
GEORGE: Kelly, what do you think we can do about the Vietnam crisis? Can we get out of this mess? Would you say we're inextricably committed to a land war in Asia? Do you feel that a political solution - is possible? - (KELLY SPEAKING INDISTINCTLY) GEORGE: Do you think that the Viet Cong - should be bargained with? - KELLY: Is that true? GEORGE: Well, it's known as the National Liberation Front.
And do you think we should recognize them across the conference table? No comment.
All right.
Here's Kelly's pushy stage mother.
- (BRENDA LAUGHING) - (GEORGE CHUCKLING) BRENDA: Kelly, do you remember when you and Teddy Bear Does Teddy Bear like to go INTERVIEWER: At what point does his success happen, and you know it has changed? I think when we came out here in 1966.
INTERVIEWER: And what happened? It was the John Davidson the Kraft Summer Music Hall.
What happens to your lifestyle? How does it change? I think it Well, it affected me very badly because I felt abandoned.
- He came out to a show, and even though they would have parties and get-togethers to involve the wives, and you know, husbands or whatever, I really felt abandoned.
I didn't really know people out here, and this is a big city.
And I think I was very restless also.
- I wanted to do something.
But I didn't know what I wanted to do, and I turned to alcohol.
(SOMBER MUSIC PLAYING) ♪ KELLY: We moved out to L.
And suddenly, my dad has an agent, he has a manager, he has a press agent.
And all the jobs my mom had were gone.
Suddenly, her opinion doesn't matter.
And she really wanted to work, but my dad would not let her.
Because he didn't want me being a latchkey kid, so he forbade my mother from getting a job.
That really screwed with her self-identity and her ability to feel useful in the world.
And he's on the road now, sometimes three, four, five weeks at a time.
And that's what a lot of the arguing was about, you know, the resentment she had about that, of being a stay-at-home mom.
And she's feeling very left out and left behind, and very silenced by it all.
So my mom drank, and she became very loud and exhibitionist in public.
And then my parents had knock-down, drag-out fights over my mom's drinking.
And when you're having those kind of episodes at home, I mean, talk to most any (CHUCKLES) American family, it's a very secretive thing.
GEORGE: And now, here's Kelly Carlin singing "Rock-a-bye Baby.
" GEORGE AND KELLY: Rock-a-bye, baby ♪ On the treetop ♪ When the wind blows down the ♪ GEORGE: The cradle will rock ♪ GEORGE AND KELLY: When the bough breaks down ♪ The cradle will fall ♪ And down will come baby ♪ Cradle and all ♪ KELLY: Goodbye.
GEORGE: At that time in my career I felt that by being a mainstream comic and taking the steps along the mainstream path Yes, is a good part.
Is the best part I ever got you.
that would lead me to this dream I had of being a movie actor like Danny Kaye.
Anyway, I'm not up for the part.
I'm up for the understudy.
After your friend falls out the window here, sweetheart, you'll be up for the part.
What I found was I wasn't an actor.
Well, we're just about to close, but for you, tell me what it is you like, and I'll see to it personally.
I had no technique to fall back on, I had no training to fall back on, I had only this idea that this is my birthright.
Well, I hope you know what you're doing.
But from here on, it's full price for everything.
(JAUNTY MUSIC PLAYING) ♪ ALL: When we were 17 ♪ It was a very good year ♪ GEORGE: I hated doing these variety shows.
You know? "Fuck those people, fuck that shit.
" Look at this stupid shit.
"No, I don't wanna be in the bunny number.
" I was a victim of my own success, and here's what I was missing.
I was missing who I was.
When I was 17 ♪ I began to take some acid and some mescaline, and I suddenly was able to see things differently.
What I really was, was an outlaw and a rebel who swam against the tide of what the establishment wants from us.
That person was being suppressed.
REPORTER: The long-haired, almost professional protesters demanded to know how many children the president had killed that day.
GEORGE: It was a generation war.
I was in the middle of it.
I was entertaining people in nightclubs who were 40, and they were at war with their kids who were 20.
PROTESTER: We got to knock those motherfuckers who control this thing right on their ass.
GEORGE: So, I had to come to terms with what I really wanted to do and who I was.
I'm sure that you're aware of the fact that teenagers today are the most powerful group in the country.
First of all, there are more of them than ever before, and teenagers are so much better organized.
- Many of them are armed.
- (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) BOBBY SEALE: Racist police agencies throughout the country are intensifying the terror, brutality, murder, and repression of Black people.
Black people are determined to gain their freedom by any means necessary.
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR: We will not be harassed, we will not be intimidated - and we will be heard.
- Wonderful Wino Radio.
- (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) GEORGE: Wonderful Wino ♪ PROTESTER: The way of life they're trying to condition us to is a way of life that we don't want.
We're creating a new way of life.
GEORGE: It's a folk protest song.
It's sweeping the nation.
"Don't Want No War.
" (MIMICS BANJO STRUMMING) Don't want no war ♪ MUHAMMAD ALI: There's one hell of a lot of difference in fighting in the ring and going to war in Vietnam.
My intention is to box, to win a clean fight.
But in war, the intention is to kill, kill, kill, kill, and continue killing innocent people.
- That's what - (CROWD CHEERING) Dr.
Martin Luther King has been shot to death - in Memphis, Tennessee.
- Senator Robert F.
Kennedy, who won the California primary last night when he was shot.
- (GUNSHOT) - GEORGE: Tonight's forecast, dark.
- (MUSIC CONTINUES) ♪ - (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) GEORGE: Continued dark tonight.
Oh, good evening, crisis fans.
It's time for the big preview.
Big stories coming out of wars and conflicts around the world.
Here we go, three civil wars, two brush fire wars, nine wars of liberation, two police actions, 16 revolutions, eight border clashes, 21 terrorist attacks, 21 retaliatory raids, 400 guerilla operations, two military confrontations, six heightenings of tensions, 14 heated exchanges, 12 belligerent moves (SINGING TO TUNE OF "12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS") Three powder kegs ♪ Two tinderboxes and an ultimatum ♪ (AUDIENCE APPLAUDING) The one thing that I always liked about George's story is that he was a guy who was in search of his comedic voice.
So, like, I remember hearing the stories about, like, when he first starts out, he's like, you know, comedy team, and then hippie-dippy weatherman.
And at some point, he's, like, watching the culture shift, and he's seeing the people he's performing for, and he's in tuxedos, and a suit, and a tie, and he's like, "I wanna be over there where the culture's shifting, where things are happening.
" The message that I got from Carlin is, like, how do you wanna be funny and who do you wanna be funny for? Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, I'm Oker Van Sander.
Because of the unusual number of people running for the presidency this year PATRICK: He talked me into going on the fucking Ed Sullivan Show with him.
Back in that year when all the guys were running for the Democratic thing.
Pat Paulson was running, the Smothers bro I mean, every motherfucker in the U.
was running for pres.
So, we smoke a whole lot of fucking dope, man.
And he came in as Carl K.
PATRICK: Councilman, do you think we can solve the problems of the cities? You and me? PATRICK: No, Councilman, the people in the country.
Oh, well, the people in the country can't solve the problems in the cities.
If the people from the country would stop moving to the city, that would solve the problem.
But that's the kind of balls this guy had.
He'd bring a fucking Pontiac salesman up to do The Ed Sullivan Show with you.
Do you have an opinion on censorship? Anyone who's against censorship should be silenced once and for all.
- Furthermore, I - (CUCKOO CALL WHISTLING) the way I feel about it.
- (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) - PATRICK: Councilman, what do you think are the most important issues this election year? Well, there's no question about it.
The two most important issues are the war in the streets and the crime in Vietnam.
- (AUDIENCE LAUGHING, APPLAUDING) - PATRICK: You mean the That's what I mean, the war in the streets and the crime in Vietnam.
(PENSIVE MUSIC PLAYING) ♪ I remember being very constricted.
The fact that I intellectually knew there was an anal, uptight world out there, and I didn't feel like I was part of it, didn't erase the fact that I was a living, breathing example of it.
Hi, George Carlin, for Ozark Airlines.
Let's take a closer look at Ozark.
One of the tricks I learned as a child was to deny my feelings.
It saved my life probably.
To work with my left brain, think my way through things, push the feelings down.
But I was a traitor, and I was living a real lie because I wanted to say so many different things.
What happened that changed everything was acid.
KELLY: One day, he dropped acid.
We go into the bedroom, and he was taking pictures of himself.
And he had smashed his fist into them to the point where he had made his hands bleed, and there was blood everywhere, and he's crying.
And I don't think I'd ever seen my dad cry until that moment.
We sat on him for, like, 45 minutes until he finally fell asleep.
Really, very, very scary.
I think he was having a real battle within himself.
ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen KELLY: Which George is gonna win? the hippie-dippy weatherman, George Carlin.
BETTE MIDLER: It was Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, and it was Squaresville.
I was George's opening act.
And that night, he decided he was gonna try out some new material.
I guess he had been working up to this.
Uh, that he didn't wanna be that George Carlin anymore.
He wanted to be a different George Carlin.
GEORGE: I see Mohammed Ali is fighting again.
That's kind of nice.
They really screwed him out of his job for three years, you know? Well, the people who (CHUCKLES) were in the audience, I guess, they didn't think that was so funny.
GEORGE: Sure, it was a spiteful move.
All because he didn't wanna go to Vietnam, right? They took such offense that they started walking out.
And they started walking out in droves.
I'd never seen anything like it.
GEORGE: There's a lot of sexual connotation, too, with Vietnam.
Do you notice that? Always talking about pulling out.
They were yelling things like, "You've never been shot at.
How do you know anything about Vietnam?" And then they were asking for my room number.
The hotel had to send me a telegram saying, "We cannot guarantee your safety.
" "We suggest you leave.
" BETTE: It felt like a leap into the unknown.
For the whole experience of being with him.
Seeing someone do that.
Seeing someone decide, and go for it.
It was life-altering for me.
FLIGHT DIRECTOR: Ten, nine, - ignition sequence start - ANNOUNCER: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.
Frank Simmons presents The Supremes.
- FLIGHT DIRECTOR: Three - ANNOUNCER: Featuring the humor - of George Carlin.
- two, one.
Had a contract there, a three-year contract.
And it was 12,500 dollars a week.
Sure, it's nice and it never hurt you, - but that other shit Man! - (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) GEORGE: And I used the word "shit.
" I don't usually say shit.
I smoke it, but I don't usually say it.
- (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) - GEORGE: They fired me for that.
I don't mind saying it.
Shit, shit.
You know, it's not a bad word.
(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) GEORGE: And I thought, "This is it, man.
" And I was free.
That's the way to be free, man.
- Let it flow - (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) NEIL ARMSTRONG: Okay, I'm going to step off the LEM now.
My wife and I had a home in escrow, and we wanted to have our own home.
And I went to her, you know? And I said, "We got a problem, Brenda.
I got fired, and this, and that, and everything.
" I said, "I got to go to the colleges.
" I said, "I belong at the college concerts.
I belong with people who are open and will let me be myself and experiment.
" And she said, "I'll make your press kit for you.
" I, um, got to check what time I got fired in Las Vegas for saying "shit.
" (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) GEORGE: In a town where the big game is called crap.
It's not fair, you know? "There were guys in the casinos saying, "Oh, shit.
I crapped again.
Look at that.
Oh, goddamn.
" (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) GEORGE: Give those guys free drinks, man.
Fired me.
- Shit.
- (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) GEORGE: See, the direction I'm kind of going in letting both my personal and (BLOWING RASPBERRY) professional my work, man.
Be both my life and my work are going in a direction of just being more natural, you know? PATTON OSWALT: Carlin's transformation wasn't a transformation.
HOST: Mystery challenger, will you enter and sign in, please.
(AUDIENCE APPLAUDING) PATTON: If anything, the Carlin that was on stage in the tux and the clean-shaven was a persona that he had put on because that is what you did in showbiz at the time.
It's like he de-transformed into who he actually was.
And that's that great moment that every comedian wants to get to.
You know, it took me a long time to get to it, where the person that you are offstage is who you are onstage.
I understand you've got a new image now, George, besides a new beard.
Well, it comes out as a new image.
Actually, I just have kind of relaxed a little bit.
I found myself kind of caught up in the suit and tie establishment comedian thing, and I really didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would.
So I wanted to get back to the earth, as it were, you know, I'm just going to coffee houses and colleges now.
And trying to be myself, and instead of doing little bits, and hunks, and characters, I'm just doing a monologue, and talking about me and the world, and what I see.
And it's more fun for me.
I feel a lot looser.
HOST: What's with the beard? GEORGE: I don't know.
I just felt like having one.
I wanted to look a little different from the people that voted for Nixon, you know? And I (GUEST LAUGHING) GEORGE: You can't mistake me for a Nixon voter now, - I'll tell you that, right? - HOST: Mm-mm.
I like to get in on the subjects that are really happening, I mean, things that are determining whether we're gonna live or die, those are important.
I used to be this guy.
I liked him, you know? He was really good, he was funny, I had a lot of fun with him, he did some nice things for me.
But there was nothing behind him, you know? He was just kind of just superficial.
I was always doing ladies on quiz shows, or newsmen, or disc jockeys, and I was hiding behind these things.
I didn't know it consciously, but television rewarded that.
See, that's one facet of my comedy is I am a mimic.
Was there a lot of pressure, I mean, just to become yourself, and Oh.
Well, I was ready for that.
That was one thing, is I wasn't in my act anymore.
That was not The reason I went into this, as anyone knows, you go into this as a self-expression.
- Of course.
- And once you're not doing that, forget it.
So, I discovered that.
I was free then, I was free to change.
"How long ago did you get started on drugs?" - "I forgot, man.
" - (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) That's why even though marijuana's going to make it, it's having trouble being decriminalized because a lot of guys can't remember where they left the petitions, you know? It's a - (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) - Hey, man.
When he got fired in Las Vegas, he was making 250,000 a year.
First year with me, he made 12,000 dollars.
We played the Hungry Eye, we played the Troubadour, all the small little hippie clubs.
Mary Jane, nobody ever says Mary Jane.
It's in all the dictionaries for pot.
No one ever says it.
"Hey, got any Mary Jane?" (INHALES) "I don't know.
Does it get you high?" (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) JEFF WALD: You know, he liked money, he liked spending it, but the money was not the be everything to him.
His work was, you know? His writing, his ability to put his ideas out there.
GEORGE: Hey, thank you, all.
Remember, it takes two fingers to make the peace sign just like it takes two people to make love.
When you go like this, you're jerking off.
See you later, gang.
Thank you so much.
(AUDIENCE LAUGHING, APPLAUDING) And you're not asking me this question, but I'm gonna jump to it right now, is that he's the Beatles of comedy.
At a certain point in his career, there's this huge shift.
You know, he's doing the comedic version of "Love Me Do" for the first part of his career, and then suddenly, he fucking puts out the comedic White Album.
Like, you know, he does this huge turn.
He has this almost spiritual transformation.
Being a class clown, I was a good imitator.
I had a good ear, and I could imitate.
And, uh, I imitated Father Byrne STEPHEN COLBERT: And I'm a Catholic.
because he was the celebrant - of the nine o'clock mass.
- STEPHEN: And I'm still a Catholic.
And to have Carlin making jokes about prayer, it was almost like the first time I ever went snorkeling.
I went, "Wait, there's a whole other world down here that I didn't know about?" That was like, Carlin gave me the comedy snorkel.
And I went, "Oh, I can look at my own faith this way, too?" And that's something I didn't have before listening to him.
'Cause that's what they taught us, that it was what was in your mind that counted, what you made up, your intentions, that's what He will judge you by.
A mortal sin had to be a grievous offense, sufficient reflection, and full consent of the will.
- (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) - You had to wanna.
In fact, "wanna" was a sin all by itself, man.
"Thou shalt not wanna.
" If you woke up in the morning, and you said, "I'm going downtown and commit me a mortal sin.
" Save your carfare, you did it already, man.
(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) It's like the Justice Department gets Black Panthers and people on the Left, man, for conspiracy.
"Did they do it?" "No, but they wanted to.
- Get them in here.
" Yeah.
"I wanted to.
" Birth control pills are still on prescription, right? You still need a note to get laid.
(EXHALES) Ladies must feel silly going in, "Here's my note.
" (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) GEORGE: "Oh, that's what you're doing at home, eh?" Well, we're keeping a record of it here in the store.
" Well, someday birth control pills will come off prescription.
They'll have those catchy names that patent medicines have.
- "Preg-not.
" - (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) GEORGE: Doctors prefer "Embry-no.
" (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) GEORGE: Something earthy and crude, "Mom Bomb.
" (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) GEORGE: Here's a real man's product.
" (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) FAN 1: Dear George, I'm really excited that a freak is finally overcoming the peculiar hassles FAN 2: Dear George Carlin FAN 3: When you were straight FAN 4: In my opinion, what you do and FAN 5: Dear Mister Carlin FAN 6: Truly tell it like it is.
We're very self-centered.
If we put the statue of Jesus on the dashboard, we got him facing us instead of looking for traffic where he should be.
(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) JON STEWART: What I always found amazing about Carlin was he would treat farting with the same level of scrutiny, and language, and deconstruction as he would the pope, the Catholic Church hierarchy, the war machine.
He's a good guy.
We always say, "He's like you and me.
" We always say A lot of religions have taught us that.
Love God, love your neighbor, love yourself, 'cause you're all the same person.
And if God is like us, big trouble, gang.
(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) JON: And for a kid - GEORGE: Farting is, uh - (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) JON: I didn't understand that in any way.
GEORGE: Kids like it 'cause it's kinda like shit without the mess, you know? (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) But side-cheek-lift-up-fart? (BLOW KISS) Man! GEORGE: Nixon is a perfect symbol for this country.
He looks like he hasn't taken a shit in a month.
(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) Hey, they're letting Ali fight.
He happened to lose, but at least they're letting him work again, right? For three years, the cat couldn't work, Muhammad Ali.
And, of course, he had an unusual job, - beating people up, you know? - (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) GEORGE: But the government wanted him to change jobs.
The government wanted him to kill people.
(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) And he said, "No, that's where I draw the line.
" (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) "I'll beat them up, but I don't want to kill them, you know?" (APPLAUSE) And the government got spiteful.
They said, "Look, if you won't kill them, we won't let you beat them up.
" (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) Everyone remembers the reason we're in Southeast Asia is to free these people, to bring them industry.
Isn't that roughly our job everywhere? We kind of free people and whip industry on them so that they can have all the benefits of industry that (COUGHING) we have come to love.
(SINGING TO TUNE OF "AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL") O beautiful for smoggy skies ♪ Insecticided grain ♪ For strip-mined mountains' majesty ♪ Above the asphalt plain ♪ America, America ♪ Man sheds his waste on thee ♪ And hides the pines with billboard signs ♪ From sea to oily sea ♪ (AUDIENCE APPLAUDS) Most people now know that we're in kind of trouble.
We're in a kind of an emergency, the planet, and the species and the country is in a kind of emergency, and people are responding to it a little bit better, I think.
But we have to You have to keep screaming, I think.
Are you optimistic? I'm optimistic, but I wouldn't take any comfort from that.
You know, I like to be an optimist, but I'd have to be pessimistic by looking at the book, you know? (AUDIENCE APPLAUDING) GEORGE: (OVER RECORD PLAYER) Shit's a nice word.
The middle class has never really been into "shit," you know, as a word.
You'll hear it around the kitchen if someone drops a casserole, you know, "Oh, shit!" - (GROANING) - (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) - (CONTINUES INDISTINCTLY) - KLIPH: Before 1969, the United States had what they called obscenity laws.
It was literally illegal to "be obscene" in any public forum, and comedians routinely got arrested.
GEORGE: Sometimes they say "shoot.
" KLIPH: But obscenity laws were changing all throughout the late '60s and early '70s.
GEORGE: "Shoot" is "shit" with two Os.
KLIPH: Little David Records was founded right at that same time by another comedian named Flip Wilson.
Here's George's new album FM & AM.
And Flip Wilson's whole purpose with this new label was to hire comedians to do their act, no censorship.
This was an opportunity for George to feel freer as an artist.
And for me to be a part of maybe in some way helping a guy that I admire.
And this is all the material that you at home suspected that this guy with long hair probably had in his heart, but was not able to do on network television.
Here it is on vinyl with all those words.
GEORGE: (OVER RECORD PLAYER) My job essentially is - thinking up goofy shit.
- (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) GEORGE: It comes right down to that.
I mean, you don't have time all week.
So I think up the goofy shit, and come on the weekend to report it to you.
- (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) - There was Class Clown, and Occupation: Foole, and AM & FM, and Those were huge.
And I recorded them onto cassette, and I took it everywhere.
We went on vacation.
I took the tape.
And I started memorizing the album.
So it was just embedded.
Well, first of all, who doesn't want to hear bad words when you're a kid? That's the greatest.
You're already on perfectly solid ground if you're saying "fuck" in front of a ten-year-old.
GEORGE: Class clown used to save his best stuff for lunchtime when you were drinking your milk (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) ALEX WINTER: Class Clown was an indoctrination, you know, to get that album GEORGE: trying to make the milk come out your nose.
(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) ALEX: He was cool, and funny, and hip, but he kind of spoke to issues in a way that didn't feel like eating your vegetables.
And that was what first struck me about Carlin when I was young, was that he was funny, he was smart, he was human, he was open, he was opinionated, he was curious, he was political, he was sexual, he was human.
And he was just so cool, you know? He was way cooler than everybody else.
He was just You felt connected to him.
You liked him.
JERRY SEINFELD: He personified that thing that you see "when you're young and you go, "That's it.
That's the thing.
That's the thing to be.
" And I wanted to be just like him, getting every word in the right spot.
Because when he did it, it thrilled me, you know? And I wanted to do that.
I wanted that skill.
And I've spent my life pursuing it.
Listen, last time you were on the show, we got on a subject, and we ran out of time.
You were talking about words.
GEORGE: Those are my babies.
Just take a simple thing like the word "alter.
" Alter and change are supposed to mean the same thing.
You can alter your plans, you can change your plans, and you've done the same thing.
But if you alter your pants - and you change your pants - (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) GEORGE: Just want to share a few words with you that amuse me, and combinations of words like "occasional irregularity.
" - (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) - What other kind can there be? (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) If it were frequent, it would be regularity.
(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) We got things like jumbo shrimp.
I stare at that a long time on the menu.
- Jumbo shrimp.
- (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) "Jumbo shrimp.
" And he'd get that really (GRUNTS) And he did all the way up to the highs and the low.
And even in that little punchline, the ride that he took you on.
Is it a large shrimp or is it a little jumbo? BILL BURR: How interesting just sonically Those words don't even go together.
BILL: he was as a comedian.
It's like military intelligence.
How did they ever get those two together? (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) Been looking at that one a long time.
They got more.
BILL: The mastery that he had of dynamics in volume, and where he had the mic, and bringing his voice up, and bringing it down, he had an incredible like broadcaster - We've met on the radio dial.
- voice.
First of all, in the center of the dial around BILL: When he would imitate the sound of turning the dial.
Eight hundred.
BILL: Whatever he turned his focus to, you were going at it at light speed.
You have in the center of that (MIMICS TUNING) dial.
And he just eviscerated it.
And then we get down lower and lower, - down to the hopelessness of 55.
- (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) Nowhere to go but up.
Like your background.
GEORGE: No father in the home.
My mother raised my brother and me who was six years older than I.
PAUL REISER: So, when I was in high school, my older sister was in college and had a radio show, and somehow had gotten to George, and he agreed to be interviewed for the radio show.
GEORGE: And so I learned to be independent in order to amuse myself.
And all those qualities that have stuck through all my life were probably formed by that necessity.
I remember opening the door to that apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
And I remember hearing the toilet flush.
I went, "George Carlin just peed at my house.
I'm a What a lucky guy.
" INTERVIEWER: There's nothing that you'd rather be doing now? GEORGE: Absolutely nothing.
My job is to think up amusing, ironic, and absurd things, which I have fun thinking up.
And then because I'm a word freak and love that, I get a chance to transform them into the best possible words.
And then because I'm a hambone, I get to stand up and try to present them.
And what more could you ask for than to share fun and funniness with people, you know? But it's growth, you know? It's always growth.
And all I ever wanna know is that I'm getting better, that I'm doing things better, thinking of more lines, cutting and editing better.
Move upward, man, you move onward.
REISER: Now, he's ready to leave.
My father says, "Where are you going?" He says, "I got to go Midtown.
" "Why?" He says, "I got to buy a camera.
" My father says, "Don't go up there.
I got a place downtown.
I'll take you to these guys.
Murray and Saul, you'll get the best " Takes him in the car.
Now, we're in my family's car.
We're all in the car.
George is in the seat next to my father.
My father is driving.
A year later, my sister does a follow-up interview.
Poor guy, he does a follow-up.
It's almost like that classic joke.
"I don't know if you remember us.
" And he says, "Oh, I absolutely " That was the strangest interview.
All I know is I was on my way uptown to score some coke "and next thing, I'm buying a camera.
" GEORGE: It's true that along with all the other shit that came from drugs, some of these brilliant motherfuckers said some things that weren't so cool.
For instance, Napoleon is known to have said, "Let's take everything out of our pockets and look at it.
" (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) America's public enemy number one is drug abuse.
In order to fight and defeat this enemy, it is necessary to wage a new all-out offensive.
REPORTER: The drug problem goes through our society from one continuum to the other.
There is no one that escapes it.
GEORGE: The drug problem.
The drug problem is (CLEARS THROAT) if Eddy has four ounces of number two Colombian tops (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) and Danny has a half-ounce of bad street grass, how many joints will they have to smoke - before Danny talks to Eddy - (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) GEORGE: The drug problem seems to be that nobody will really define what the drug problem is.
To a lot of people, the drug problem is, - "I can't get any.
" - (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) GEORGE: You know, nobody knows that we're all part of it, that everybody in the country is swimming in a sea of drugs, man.
I mean, we really got used to that, didn't we? We were told a long time ago, weren't we? "Say, is something wrong? Why don't you take something for it?" They even make it easier to get started, a little orange flavoring in those little tablets - for you when you're young.
- (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) Little orange.
"Don't like your head?" (CLICKS TONGUE) "Two orange in the mouth.
"Yes, there'll be other colors later on.
" (CLICKS TONGUE) REPORTER: The adult world have accepted and are living the industrial slogan of better living through chemistry.
GEORGE: The drug companies finally got us hooked.
We've been searching for it all our lives as humans ever since before the loincloth People say, "We have a drug problem in this country.
" "Where do you hear that?" "At the drugstore.
" Every three or four blocks, big sign, "Drugs.
" Of course, you have a drug problem if they have stores for it.
Someone's got to abuse it.
And then there are drugs we don't even talk about.
Forgetting alcohol and tobacco, which is the greatest part of the hypocrisy because they're used and abused more than anything, and they're legal, and the government lives on them.
Forgetting that part of the hypocrisy, there's a lot of other little middle-class drug trips.
Mom found those diet pills did a little more than help her diet, yessiree.
It made her grind her teeth and feel good, too.
" It keeps her on the phone a lot.
"Hi, Marge " - (MIMICS GARBLED SPEECH) - (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) "Where are you going, Mom? Shopping at midnight?" "Well, they're open.
Never mind.
See you later.
" (MIMICS GARBLED SPEECH) There she goes.
(AUDIENCE LAUGHING, APPLAUDING) HOST 1: Would you welcome, please, George Carlin and his wife, Brenda.
Is it true you've given up drinking and smoking, George? Yeah.
Brenda has all the vices in the family now.
- I've doubled up for his sake.
- (HOST 1 GROANING) No, I think all I need is fruit juice, and a little marijuana, at an occasional party, - and you're okay.
- (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) When the flute player shows up or something, you know? HOST 2: Yeah.
You're putting us on now, right? Well, I don't know.
That's probably the safest of any of the things you can put in yourself, including booze and tobacco.
Do you speak as an authority on marijuana? - I grew up in a neighborhood - HOST 2: You don't want to - get him arrested on the show.
- You can only be arrested I don't have any or anything like that.
But, you know, it's really quite safe.
With fruit juice? - Fruit juice especially.
- (HOST 1 CHUCKLING) You have a daughter.
As she gets older, what are you going to tell her? BRENDA: I would hope, if she gets involved in any kind of drugs, that marijuana would be the thing that would happen to her, you know? I think we could explain that to her and possibly talk her out of it, but I'm Oh, my God.
My mom and that fucking hair.
And my mom is loaded there.
That's a loaded mom.
- GEORGE: The big thing is if she sees - I don't You know? a truthful attitude around the home about marijuana, 'cause she's gonna know from her school chums.
And if she sees that we're being truthful about one, perhaps she'll trust us then.
KELLY: The fact that they talked about that, America did not talk about that.
Because it's going to be part of her life.
It's gonna be part of the future of this country, just as all drugs are.
The drug industry has us taking things to get awake, things to go to sleep, things to pep up, things to forget about the grief you had from something.
It's part of our culture.
We are a drug-oriented society.
We should be used to it.
And I want her to know - which things are dangerous and which aren't.
- HOST 2: Hmm.
KELLY: When my dad made the change from straight guy to counterculture guy, it was kind of exciting for Mom because they were starting over as if it was 1961, '62 again.
And she's like, "I believe in you.
We're gonna do this together.
" But then what happened, of course, within two years was skyrocketing gold records, superstardom now, and big agents, and big things.
And my mom was enjoying the lifestyle, but once again, she's not pertinent to the conversation.
She's not in on the ride.
And now, the drugs are there.
And cocaine really changed everything.
There's one thing to have one person drunk in the house and the other one smoking weed and a couple of beers, very different when both people are doing a drug that makes that part of your brain become aggressive and greedy.
And it really did escalate and undermine everything in our family when cocaine came into the picture.
GEORGE: Parents are supposed to pass along their authority.
As you grow up, other parts of the world assume some of that authority, the police, the state, the wife that you choose, they get that authority that your parents had.
But none of them ever wield that authority with the flair that your parents did, you know? Can you picture a guy at a tollbooth saying, - "Did you eat your peas?" - (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) GEORGE: The thing about being hot, and being the hot new guy, and the fastest new gun in town, it was just incredibly exciting.
That's what it is, you know? You all come from different And the first time you get caught in your own traffic jam, the first time you're driving to the theater and you're stuck in theater traffic, it's just a fabulous feeling.
"I have created this.
" These people have come here just to hear me, "to hear this stuff that I'm doing, you know?" I think about those things, don't you? On the way to the theater, "What kind of a member of the audience" am I going to be tonight? (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) GEORGE: Will I be a credit to my row?" (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) GEORGE: If there's a fire drill, will my table "stomp the shit out of each other?" (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) GEORGE: I had a jet plane at the time.
I bought my own jet plane.
- INTERVIEWER: What? - GEORGE: The Jet Commander.
- (CHUCKLING) - (INTERVIEWER CHUCKLING) GEORGE: And I sat in my own plane with two six-packs and an ounce of pot and a lot of cocaine alone on the ramp at LaGuardia.
And I just had a party, a one-man party.
(INTERVIEWER CHUCKLING) GEORGE: Anyway, it was a symbol.
It's a wonderful symbol - of excess.
GEORGE: And it was a symbol, too, of my complete lack of appreciation for the need to have sound attention to my finances.
Brenda was on the home front and had to be the disciplinarian, and I didn't see her need for her identity.
I just I hide a lot of stuff from myself.
I deny a lot of stuff.
Leave it alone unless it explodes.
And when it's not exploding it doesn't attract my attention.
(AUDIENCE CHEERING, APPLAUDING) GEORGE: I just got to be honest with you, I'm not one of them bullshit showbusiness people, man, who makes believe everything is going okay because everything is not going okay, man.
HOST: What did they do to you in Milwaukee? GEORGE: You know? Well, they tried to, they wanted to HOST: Do you want to talk about a little bit? - Sure enough.
- Sure enough, man.
I'm from Milwaukee and I oughta know ♪ In this country, there's no morality in business.
It's strictly a ledger game.
Keep the ledger in the black.
It was a Summerfest and it was a large gathering, around 70,000.
Fuck everything else.
Don't worry about your soul.
Don't worry about the other guy.
Keep it in the black.
I had, or have, a part of my presentation called "The Seven Words You Cannot Say on Television.
" Four hundred thousand words in the English language and there are only seven of them that you can't say on television.
And the routine worked everywhere, really, very well.
Three ninety-nine, nine ninety-three to seven.
- Except in Milwaukee.
- (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) GEORGE: Now, they must really be bad words.
One policeman took exception.
"He can't say that!" (BABBLES) Apparently, he hadn't been listening in the locker room to the other guys talking.
Those are the words that will infect your mind, curve your spine, and lose the war for the allies, man.
KELLY: During the summertime, Mom and I would go on the road with him.
So, I'm backstage, and the promoter comes up to my mom and says to her, "The cops are here.
They're not liking the language that's coming from the stage, and they're going to arrest George.
" And my mom knows that my dad is carrying weed and coke in his pockets.
She grabbed a glass of water and walked out onto the stage, whispering in his ear, "Cops are here.
" GEORGE: Okay, cool.
Thank you, baby.
KELLY: "Exit stage left.
" GEORGE: Oh, that's not what she told me.
She told me I had to split soon.
KELLY: He leaves the stage, emptying his pockets.
The door opens.
Cops are there.
And they arrested me for disorderly conduct, profanity, as opposed to disorderly conduct drunk, I guess REPORTER: that he did on July 21st, 1972 (READS POLICE REPORT) In 1972, I happened to go to my very first Summerfest in Milwaukee.
Huge crowds and performance.
And I was there when George Carlin performed his routine.
The next morning, got up for my Saturday rotation of duty and in walked the police with George Carlin in handcuffs.
GEORGE: The next day, the district attorney asked the policeman, he was questioning me.
He says, "Was there disorder? Was he saying this to people? Was he mad? Was he disorderly? Were the people disorderly?" He said, "I dunno," he said (BABBLES) So he turned to his assistant district attorney, and he said, "You were there.
What did the audience do?" He said, "Well, they gave him a standing ovation.
" - (AUDIENCE LAUGHING, APPLAUDING) - (INDISTINCT CHATTER) I do recall that at some point during the trial, the judge sort of covered his face.
He did not want people to see that he was laughing at the routine that was being performed.
There was no dispute that he said the words.
The issue was, did it tend to cause or provoke a disturbance? And, of course, not only did it not, I was there and saw that it did not.
So, George Carlin was not guilty.
(TENSE MUSIC PLAYING) ♪ GEORGE: I thought I might bring you up to date on the list of words you can't say all the time.
- That's the only thing.
- (AUDIENCE CHEERING, APPLAUDING) That's the only thing you can really call them, and includes them.
"The words you can't say all the time.
" Some of the time, not all the time.
When you're a kid, you can't say any of them.
(SCOFFS, GROANS) None at all.
Then pretty soon you're growing.
They can't stop that, can they? But pretty soon, "hell" and "damn" break through.
Dad tells you a joke with "shit" in it.
(EXHALES) (AUDIENCE LAUGHING, APPLAUDING) "Don't tell your mom I told you that.
" "Why not?" "It's a word you can't say all the time.
" Not all the time.
Mixed company, there's ladies here.
"Hey, I got a joke for you, Floyd, but this lady's here.
" "Go ahead.
She's filthy.
Tell me.
" It's all it is.
It's your filth threshold.
The thing that bothers me is that there's no list of these words anywhere, man.
I mean, it would make sense to have a list of them, wouldn't it? They never give you a list when you're a kid.
You've got to say them to find out what they are.
- Shit.
(MIMICS THUD) - (AUDIENCE APPLAUDING) Wouldn't it be smart to give you a list? "You're six years old now.
Here's the list of the words your daddy and I don't ever want to hear you say.
" "Hey, thanks, Ma.
Boy, that'll come in handy.
Save me an ass-kicking.
" - (MIMICS THUD) - (GROANS) The whole idea of the original seven words routine was that he wanted to know what are the words that I might get fined for saying on stage.
And he said, "You know, ironically, the FCC won't tell me.
So how do I know if I'm gonna be in trouble or not?" GEORGE: I kept finding more ways to describe dirty words than there were dirty words.
They call them dirty, bad, filthy, foul, vile, vulgar, - off-color - (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) blue naughty, bawdy, saucy, raunchy, street language, gutter talk, locker room talk, barracks language, indecent - in poor taste, suggestive - (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) cursing, cussing, swearing, profanity, obscenity.
All I could think of was shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits.
He says the seven dirty words, shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits.
Shit, piss, cunt.
Shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, tits.
And the crowd goes crazy.
(AUDIENCE LAUGHING, CHEERING) Shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits.
That was my original list.
I knew it wasn't complete.
- PATTON: Then he goes - But it was a starter set.
PATTON: and breaks apart why are these dirty words? GEORGE: And usually, on television, some of the words aren't always dirty, like ass.
The word ass is okay.
Part of the time, you can say ass on TV.
You can say, "Well, you've made a perfect ass of yourself tonight.
" But you can't say, "Hey, let's go get some ass.
" (AUDIENCE LAUGHING, CHEERING) GEORGE: You can use ass in the religious sense.
If you happen to be the Redeemer riding into town on one, perfectly all right.
But don't get off and say, "The donkey hurt my ass.
" (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) GEORGE: Same thing with the word ball.
It's okay for Joe Garagiola at Saturday afternoon to say, "Johnny Bench has two balls on him.
" But if he gets hit there, they don't mention he got hit in the balls.
They say it's a groin injury.
Words like prick, prick is okay on television, you can prick your finger.
- But don't finger your prick.
- (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) However, you can refer to fucking.
You can talk about fucking.
They do that all the time.
Some of the times, the show you're watching, two people are probably fucking in the other room.
Fucking is all right.
Fucking is part of the plot.
A lot of plots are based on fucking.
Will they fuck? Should they fuck? Have they fucked? Did they fuck? Will they fuck again? Will they get sick from fucking? Are they fucking too much? Will they fuck each other's friends? Will they have a baby from fucking? Will they be sorry they fucked? Will they be glad they fucked? All fuck stories.
Every honeymoon joke is a fuck joke.
(AUDIENCE LAUGHING, CHEERING) How did it get such a bad reputation? - We fucked it up.
I mean, shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits, in a way, he's talking about it's bullshit that there are 400,000 words in the English language, and these seven "bad words.
" Like the fact you can isolate.
They must be outrageous for them to be isolated from a group that large.
And it made you think about, "Oh, why do we accept some things as acceptable and not and other things not as acceptable?" And the whole point was "What's going to happen? You heard the word.
Did you go out and murder someone? Did you go shoot up heroin? No, you heard a word.
" It's not about the word, it's about the context.
Words, he always said, Carlin always said, "It's not the word.
It's the context in which you use that word.
" And when you eliminate context, you eliminate nuance, you eliminate intent, there's no comedy, there's no satire, there's no free speech.
One-thirty on an autumn afternoon back in 1973, a man named John Douglas, the head of an electronics firm and father of six children, was driving with his 15-year-old son up in Connecticut.
The car radio was turned on to a station in New York, WBAI.
Well, suddenly, they heard comedian George Carlin's record called Filthy Words.
It's an assault on my senses.
I don't seek it.
I don't desire it.
It might be his freedom of expression, but perhaps he should give up that particular freedom of expression for the good of the community.
REPORTER: Well, the FCC, acting on Douglas's complaint, imposed a ban on words like the ones used in the Carlin record.
Not necessarily obscene, but words that, to many people, might be offensive.
It was played in the context of language and how we consider language.
But it set off a chain reaction of events where the case went through the courts and the FCC was trying to use it as a test case like, "Where are we gonna draw the line?" INTERVIEWER: How can you defend the use of words like this on broadcasting stations? Well, you don't have to defend them, I don't think.
They are protected by the First Amendment, by free speech.
Just as in newspapers, in books (CLEARS THROAT) and in films, the broadcast media should be no different.
My defense would be that there are two knobs on these sets.
A person can choose not to listen.
A person can change the station if they like.
The question is, can the Federal Communications Commission abridge freedom of speech? How did they get the power to do that? And that's what the case is about.
I think Mr.
Carlin's a very funny man, probably the funniest comedian around today.
In a nightclub situation, it would be perfectly in order because for one thing, I probably couldn't bring anybody in under 18.
Well, there was just the point of the fact that there's no prior restraint.
Even though that's true, the fact that you can be punished for something is a form of subtle unspoken prior restraint.
There is a de facto censorship here whereby stations will be afraid to make a decision because of the possibility.
Philosophically, I do not buy the assumption that these words are somehow immoral or indecent in and of themselves.
Words are only symbols, and they do not possess those qualities.
People can be immoral or indecent.
The words themselves cannot harm us.
The United States Supreme Court says that the public airwaves, television, radio, and other forms of broadcasting are not the place for what it calls "dirty words.
" GEORGE: They had found a new category of bad language.
NEWS ANCHOR: may restrict the broadcast of indecent language.
But GEORGE: Indecent.
And that was my contribution.
So I have this perverse pride that I'm an important footnote along the way somewhere in the legal history of our country.
HASAN MINHAJ: Things like the seven words or Lenny Bruce getting arrested, it's no different than that journalist in Belarus, them landing the plane, and then ripping him off the plane.
You know, there was a great satirist in Colombia that was killed in the early '90s.
They are really telling reminders of what could go wrong.
If people in power say, "Hey, this is where the line is, and you've crossed this line.
" GEORGE: Everything is okay anyway ♪ Everything is okay anyway ♪ Well, if the sun comes out each day ♪ Everything must be okay ♪ Yes, everything is okay anyway ♪ If all we ever had was total war ♪ And peace and love ♪ And giving were a bore ♪ What if we cried and died all day ♪ You could still hear someone say ♪ That everything is okay anyway ♪ NEWS ANCHOR 1: Good evening.
In a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court today legalized abortions.
GEORGE: Volcanoes, earthquakes ♪ Floods and tidal waves ♪ NEWS ANCHOR 2: Washington has been inundated by another massive set of Watergate transcripts.
GEORGE: And man is forced to live again in caves ♪ PRESIDENT NIXON: Therefore, I shall resign the Presidency effective at noon tomorrow.
GEORGE: But if all we had was fire ♪ You'd still hear the caveman choir ♪ REPORTER: With communist forces only a few miles from the center of Saigon.
GEORGE: Singing everything is okay anyway ♪ Cocaine, there's one thing to tell you about it, it is extremely pleasurable.
A few blows of coke make you feel like a new man.
Unfortunately, the new man wants a couple of blows.
That's the danger.
Catch you later.
- Thank you, man.
So long.
- (AUDIENCE APPLAUDING) I couldn't help You just, kind of what might have been called a slight warning at the end, - your last line about cocaine.
- Yeah.
- And you know people who have - Yeah.
come to grief over cocaine? I do.
Oh, sure.
- Yeah, I know a couple of them.
- The biggest problem is if you can afford it and if you don't have a tight schedule, like if you don't have anything to do until March, - you'll stay up.
- (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) GEORGE: Yeah, everything is okay ♪ Anyway everything is okay anyway ♪ Well, if you do not miss your pay ♪ (PENSIVE MUSIC PLAYING) ♪ KELLY: Dad would be on the road, and I'd be calling down to the liquor store and ordering a case of wine because that's what my mom wanted.
There was this guy, Fred, who was driving me to school and back because my dad does not trust my mother in a car anymore.
I mean, I have this one memory "where he comes to me and he says, "Look, I think the only way we're gonna get Mom to get sober is to really, really scare her.
So I'm going to tell her that I'm leaving you.
Now, I'm not going to leave you, but we're gonna pretend that I am because we need Mom to be scared enough "to do something about her drinking.
" I became his emotional ally.
I was like the only other adult that he could talk to about this.
GEORGE: The pain I felt from watching Brenda, it was just devastating, that kind of pain.
And I wouldn't for a minute say, "Well, Brenda's alcoholism caused my cocaine use," because that's absurd.
But it certainly had something to do with it.
And Kelly suffered trauma experiencing that in the home.
Carlin, why do you wear your hair long like a hippie freak? - (CHUCKLES) - (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) - HOST 1: Who was that pretty girl? - HOST 2: That sweet thing.
Kel, I guess I'm a hippie freak.
(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) - HOST 2: That's George Carlin's daughter, Kelly.
- GEORGE: Yeah.
Look at her face.
(QUIET MUSIC PLAYING) ♪ KELLY: I remember the pressure of going to school and having to pretend like everything was fine when it really, really wasn't.
There was violence in the house.
Mom was a very aggressive, horribly angry drunk, and my dad also had his father's anger and rage in him.
So I had the therapist's phone number and would call him at 2:00 a.
, "They're ready to kill each other.
What do I do?" (UNEASY MUSIC PLAYING) ♪ There was this one time we had gone to Hawaii for vacation.
And at some point, my mom picks up a knife and is, like, wielding a knife at my dad.
I throw myself in the middle of it, and I was like, "I cannot take this anymore.
This cannot go on like this.
I cannot handle any more of this.
" And I wrote out this document, and it was like this peace treaty, like this UN-style peace treaty.
And it was like, "I, George Carlin," will not snort cocaine for the rest of the vacation.
I, Brenda Carlin, will not drink alcohol "for the rest of the vacation.
" Made them sign it.
GEORGE: Oh, yeah, this is when everything was really unraveling.
My cocaine and drug use, her drinking separately, and our mutual dance of death.
I, one time, had a conversation with about six people in my room who weren't there.
Fucking hallucinating, which would come from not just the drug alone, but staying up six days.
I would stay up as much as six days and not eat.
There are times when I think I shall go crazy, and then there are times when I feel quite all right.
So send in the clown ♪ Don't fuck around ♪ Oh, Danny Boy, the pipes ♪ The pipes are calling ♪ (SINGING INDISTINCTLY) I would miss dates, and then they'd have to reschedule them, and I would go to the cocaine doctor, and he would make notes that excused me from the concert, so we wouldn't get sued, that I had laryngitis.
And I would have laryngitis because I would sing for six days at the top of my voice to the music I was playing.
It's so easy to love ♪ I would talk, talk, talk, talk, talk because the cocaine made me talk.
And then I would try to do a two-and-a-half-hour concert, which is what I was doing then and I would lose my voice.
Nobody gives a fuck if you're stuck! You're just stuck, you fuck.
Fuck you, you stuck fuck.
(FUNKY MUSIC PLAYING) ♪ Hold it, guys.
The band is going crazy.
Can't talk much anymore.
Worked out pretty good.
We got our week pretty well done.
George had a very, very bad throat.
He couldn't talk for about two weeks - before he got here.
- Part of it's disuse and part of it's putting it into action again.
- It's a little rugged.
It'll come back.
MIKE: Why don't you bring your mom out? GEORGE: Mary Carlin, my mom.
- (AUDIENCE CHEERING, APPLAUDING) - (MUSIC PLAYING) ♪ I hope you're excited about being here.
- Yes.
- Because I'm very excited - about having you here.
- Well MIKE: He's a good kid, isn't he? And I've watched you for years, - and I love you.
Thank you.
Thank you.
- Love you.
Boy, are we going to get along well? (CHUCKLES) - He's a good boy, isn't he? - Yeah, he's a good boy.
- MIKE: Now.
- (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) MIKE: He wasn't always a good boy? No, no, no, no.
MIKE: What is your reaction to George's present image? Well, couple of years ago, I hadn't seen him with the beard, nor the long hair.
No, not a word that I know.
And he suddenly appeared in my home.
And there he stood.
- (MIKE CHUCKLING) And when I'm silent, there's trouble.
(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) So he realized something was happening.
And he said, "Mother, don't you remember what you wrote in my autograph when I finished Corpus Christi?" I said, "George insist on being yourself always in all ways.
" He said, "Mother, eat your words.
" (MIKE AND AUDIENCE LAUGHING) KELLY: My dad had invited his mom to come out for two weeks to stay with us, and she never left.
This was at the rock bottom of my mother's alcoholism.
My mother was barely functioning at this point.
And Mary was pouring drinks for my mother at noon.
Mary would have one, and my mother would have two.
And then in my mother's ear, telling every horrible thing about my father, what a bad son he is and just, all of this darkness.
My mom is down to 87 pounds, crawling to the bathroom, and she was dying.
I was ordering booze by the case and having my drugs delivered, and I was a vegetable.
How was George during this period? What did he try to do with you? He was frantic.
He really wanted to help me.
I didn't know what was wrong with me.
I honestly thought I was insane.
I thought I was going blind in one eye.
I thought I had a brain tumor.
Well, I knew I was going to die, and I would stay awake all night, and I really hit a bottom.
INTERVIEWER: What form was your bottom? Well, I guess, my ultimate was backing through a lobby of an inn - in the Pacific Palisades.
- INTERVIEWER: That's a bottom.
- Yes, it really was.
It was my last cry for help.
KELLY: My dad and I and a few doctors finally convinced her that she had to go into the hospital.
There was no Betty Ford back then.
There was no, really, rehab, but it was a 21-day program.
And about halfway through, once my mother had stopped shaking, and she could sit in a chair, and she'd gotten kind of some her mind back and everything, she just said, "I'm not coming home if she's in the house.
" And my dad within like 30 seconds was like, you know, "Be right back.
" - (CAR ENGINE REVVING) - (TIRES SCREECHING) GEORGE: I had to kick my mother out of my house.
Old woman.
And I said, "We're going to the airport.
" - (SOFT MUSIC PLAYING) ♪ - I was never happier in my life.
I never had a greater feeling of relief in my life than to know that I'd never have to take the car keys out of her hand again, that I would never have to go through any of this horrible fucking tension and shit that went with her drinking.
And, uh, life changed.
INTERVIEWER: When you came out of the facility, you knew that you had to change your life - Absolutely.
All the way.
- or you would die again.
That's right.
And I made that statement to George.
I either find who I am And, I mean, I felt like I had really been given a second chance.
(MUSIC CONTINUES) ♪ KELLY: After my mom got sober, my mother flourished.
Not only was she super involved in AA, but she became a counselor for people, she volunteered at the VA.
And she immediately got involved in my dad's production stuff.
So she became a producer.
She ended up working for HBO for years.
She was a talent coordinator.
She became the Brenda Carlin that she was always meant to become.
GEORGE: I want to do one thing before I go any further because I am going to split.
There's somebody that's very important to this project and to me.
Brenda, would you please come here? I want to introduce you to my wife of 17 years.
- (AUDIENCE APPLAUDING) - She is the associate producer, and she is my honey.
And if she don't come out here now.
Come here, honey, I want you to give me a kiss.
My wife, Brenda Carlin.
Come here, honey.
Thank you, lover.
See you later.
Thank you all.
And good night.
I love you! (AUDIENCE CHEERING, APPLAUDING) Live from New York, it's Saturday Night.
Ladies and gentlemen, George Carlin.
Talk about a live show.
Nice to see you, welcome, and thanks for joining us live.
I'm kind of glad that we're on at night, so that we're not competing with all the football - and baseball games.
- (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) So many, man.
All the time.
And this is the time of year when there's both, you know? Football's kind of nice.
They changed it a little bit.
They moved the hash marks in.
Guys found them and smoked them anyway.
(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) JAMES SULLIVAN: Famously, he was the first guest host on Saturday Night Live.
But besides that feather in his cap of forever being able to say, "I was the first guest host for Saturday Night Live " GEORGE: the words surrounding football and baseball JAMES: he was not getting the same kind of attention that he had been getting in the early '70s.
Football is technological.
Baseball is pastoral.
(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) Football is played in a stadium.
Baseball is played in a park.
- (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) - In football, you wear a helmet.
- In baseball, you wear a cap.
- (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) JAMES: At that point, I think there were people saying, "Carlin's kind of yesterday's news in terms of comedy.
" Like he's not as big as Cheech and Chong, for instance, is right now.
Led Zeppelin.
(MIMICS WHIRRING) Hey, be careful with that shit, man.
PAUL: In comedy, the art form - Here I come to save the day.
- (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) and the business of comedy were changing radically.
- Oh, my God.
- (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) PAUL: You know, that's the time where Steve Martin - was coming through.
- Okay, good.
Now, let's repeat the non-conformist oath.
"I promise to be different.
" AUDIENCE: I promise to be different.
"I promise to be unique.
" AUDIENCE: I promise to be unique.
"I promise not to repeat things other people say.
" (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) Steve Martin's work was a response to the counter-cultural comedy of the '70s.
Steve said, "That's now become the trope.
" Excuse me, folks, but you're not thinking of going back to the mainland, are you, without seeing this historical site? JAMES: Suddenly the gigs were kind of drying up.
So he was getting offered goofy stuff like Perry Como's Christmas in Hawaii Special.
You guys with the peg legs, stand up straight.
Guys with the eye patches, look this way.
But he knew that to continue to sell out the venues that he was playing, he had to be a known figure from TV.
Oh, Mr.
Wow, this is certainly a great opportunity.
- Thank you.
- GEORGE: You can't be the hot new guy in town forever.
I really mean it! - (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) - GEORGE: You can't be the fastest gun because a faster gun is coming to town in a few years.
My record career began to kind of wane in the '70s - (SHRIEKS) - as did the counterculture.
Are you finished? Disco came into play, and the people who are the true radicals, they retreated to the hills, and the other ones went and got MBAs - and stuff like that.
- (INTERVIEWER CHUCKLING) GEORGE: And there I was, sort of not knowing who I was and who I should become to be true to myself.
Tragedy at the parade today.
An open manhole yes, yes (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) Funny where tragedy crops up.
At the parade today (CLEARS THROAT) an open manhole cover claimed not the cover, the manhole - (CHUCKLES) - (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) It's about shot now, but I'll finish it anyway.
(AUDIENCE LAUGHING, CHEERING) TONY ORLANDO: George was a very warm, almost shy personality, contrary to what you saw on stage.
There was a humble side to George that I didn't expect, but I don't know how many people hung out with George because I never saw George hanging with other performers that much.
You know, I don't even know who his friends were.
It's so weird.
You didn't sense that he was lonely, but he liked being alone.
But he comes to my office at CBS and asked me for a job.
Now, I was blown away because I would think I would be the last guy that George Tony Orlando and Dawn show? That I would be the last So, I probably was the last guy on his list.
- (CHUCKLES) - (DISCO MUSIC PLAYING) ♪ ALL: Climb the highest mountain ♪ And we'll sail the seven seas ♪ TONY: Now, remember, this time period, there was only three networks.
So, 40 million people was with us every Wednesday night.
That was a 36th share.
Today, that probably would be the Super Bowl.
Now it's time for George.
(AUDIENCE APPLAUDING) How you doing? Thank you.
Thank you very much.
Thank you.
I bet you've had words you'd like to change or things you'd like to add to the language.
Things that could be easier.
Arthritis should be arth-wrong-us.
(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) I think we should have cheese fon-don't for people who don't like cheese fondue.
(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) - Migraine should be your-grain.
- (AUDIENCE CHEERING, APPLAUDING) - Hernia ought to be his-nia.
- (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) And hysterectomy ought to be her-terectomy.
(LAUGHING CONTINUES) INTERVIEWER: Why did you take that job on Tony Orlando and Dawn? GEORGE: Because it was a chance to work within the system outside of the system.
Once a week in your own spot, which is great exposure, right? INTERVIEWER: It's hard for a lot of young people, I think, to justify going on Dinah Shore and Mike Douglas, who are not the greatest flaming radicals - GEORGE: Yes.
- why do you do that? GEORGE: I don't go on things because of flaming radicals to start with.
At the time when I appeared more radical, I used to make the observation that, "Wow, there are people out there fighting in streets," getting whacked out on picket lines and stuff.
If these few jokes I make qualify me as a radical, "then the movement is in big trouble.
" INTERVIEWER: Well, you've mellowed them.
- Is that right? - GEORGE: That's right.
I've passed some of my rebelliousness out of my system by now, and it was never meant to be my mode, I guess.
INTERVIEWER: You don't have any formal - You don't go to church? - GEORGE: No.
We didn't raise our daughter in a church either.
In times of stress, I still go back and say the Hail Mary, but I know that I'm using it as more as a mantra than as an appeal to some person.
I think that sense of superior being that we look to when we look to that, is us.
We're calling on a higher potential in ourselves when we say, "Please help me, God.
" We're saying, "Please, God, help me find in me what it is like you that'll make me do this the way I'd love it.
" See what I mean? Good ideas.
No book learning.
- (CHUCKLING) - (INTERVIEWER CHUCKLING) It's nice to be able to sit down and talk to a genius.
GEORGE: Oh, yeah? Well, we're going to have to redefine that term.
(INDISTINCT CHATTER) (GEORGE SCATTING GOOFILY) ♪ All I have to keep me is my memories of you ♪ I sit alone at night ♪ And wonder what did do ♪ I lost you, it's true ♪ But I still have my memories of you ♪ Memories of you ♪ (VOCALIZES) CREW MEMBER: Okay, George, give me some head movement.
Then let's start again.
PAUL: He had been the guy changing the form, and suddenly, he wasn't anymore.
What is a handicap? A handicap is a hat that's there when you need it.
What is a cap pistol? A gun for shooting hats off.
Get it? (MIMICS GUNSHOT) PAUL: So, Carlin felt out of step creatively.
He wasn't filling theaters the way he had been.
That's why I think a lot of the work he did around that time, it's kind of exploratory.
It's kind of I don't know.
It's hard to describe, but it's certainly not his best work.
GEORGE: I want to tell you how much I love peas.
I used to say, "I love this.
" "Boy, I really love baseball.
" (CHUCKLING) GEORGE: You like baseball.
- I fucking love peas, man.
- (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) PATTON: He was kind of in the wilderness.
GEORGE: (SINGING TO TUNE OF "GIVE PEACE A CHANCE") All I am saying ♪ Is give peas a chance ♪ He had kind of collapsed in on himself a little bit, where he was literally parsing words to a point where it sounded like someone doing a parody of George Carlin.
Underrated vegetables like beets.
SCTV did a pretty vicious take on him.
- Beats me.
- (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) There's red wine, and there's white wine, - but there's no green wine.
- (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) There's green grapes, but no green wine.
- Why? - (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) For God's sakes, will you just shut up? (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) Max, do you ever notice when you're making a movie that you always show eating but never going to the bathroom? Come on, come on, and stop doing those stupid bits.
Women hate them.
I hate them.
GEORGE: At the end of the '70s, somebody wrote a column in some paper, and it was a paper I admired, saying (READS PROMPT) And then in an article somewhere, Cheech Marin, he says (READS PROMPT) He's obsolete.
(READS PROMPT) - I see that.
GEORGE: So I say to myself, "I'm gonna make these people pay " by getting better "and learning how to really be a fucking artist.
" And it gave me an inner resolve to be terrific.
(TENSE MUSIC PLAYING) ♪ To go to a new level.
To just fucking show the world what was really inside of me.
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