American Splendor

By -

It’s been frequently said here on Slope that George Carlin is our patron saint. Most folks probably consider that a kind mark of respect for the man, but I honestly believe that George Carlin was one of the greatest Americans to even live.

I am sincere. When I say one of the greatest Americans, I put him up there with the likes of Benjamin Franklin (not quite Abraham Lincoln level, but still, way up there). And I use “American” very deliberately, because he embodies for me the properties that I believe made this country great – – – a strong will, fierce independence, the ability to think deeply, the propensity to articulate thoughts well, and the willingness to express himself.

About a week ago, I stumbled upon a podcast (Fly on the Wall with David Spade and Dana Carvey) in which their guest was Judd Apatow, who was partly there to promote his forthcoming documentary on……….George Carlin! I instantly made a “I must watch that” mental note. It is exclusively on HBO Max, which I only happen to have since they give it away for free as part of my fiber optic package.

Here is a trailer for it, and I’ve got a few thoughts to share, having watched the first of two parts.

To be clear, I’m only 50% of the way through (I can’t wait to see the second part) but here are three quick bullet points:

He Was Blessed by True Love – hearing how he met his wife Brenda is absolutely touching. They went through a lot of rough times together, including financial difficulties, drug addiction, and knock-down, drag-out fights. But I agree with what the ancient Greeks stated – – whole people are split into two parts before they are born on the Earth, and their task is to try to find their matching half. George absolutely found his in Brenda, who was not only stunning, but strong and intelligent. How lucky they both were.

He Is the Jesus Christ of all Comics – The sheer amount of high-level talent they had in this documentary (Patton Oswalt, Steven Colbert, Steven Wright, Bill Burr, etc.) was amazing. They all worship Carlin, as they rightfully should. He was massively influential, and Jerry Seinfeld stated he has basically spent his entire life trying to strive for the kind of level Carlin was at.

People Age – You know how you feel when you see someone you haven’t seen in a long time (let’s say a high school reunion or some other instance where a great amount of time has lapsed). It can be shocking, right? Perhaps they’ve become quite fat, or almost certainly they are showing signs of age. In our minds, a person looks how they look at a given point, and it stays that way. our mind doesn’t age them for us. This is especially true of famous people. As I was watching folks like Steven Wright (who, in my head, should “look” like he did around the year 1989), I am shocked. And it occurs to me – – hey, maybe I am aging, too!

Anyway, if you have access to HBO Max, I urge you to watch this marvelous documentary. George was a great, great man, and the entire planet is in agreement that he would have SOOOOOOOOO MUCH to say in times like these. Like he always said, when you’re born into this world, you get a free ticket to the freak show, and when you’re born in America, you get a front row seat.

God bless you, George Carlin!