What kind of person is famous both for narrating Thomas the Tank Engine and propagating the words you can’t say on TV? George Carlin, of course. Thanks to Celebration of the Arts, Carlin performed two nearly sold out shows on Friday in Kendall Hall.
After a 15-minute intermission and a recorded message of Carlin urging the audience to buy the merchandise on sale in the lobby, Carlin walked onstage to raucous applause. Typical of Carlin, he started the show with a hearty “Fuck you!” after asking the audience how they were doing. “I figure it this way,” he said. “I’m here for me, you’re here for me and no one’s here for you.”
However, he did take some time in his routine to offer the audience some lessons. He taught the audience three jokes, some he had heard along the way, that he said were for the audience to learn “so you can pass them on to friends and family.” He called them the most disgusting jokes he’d ever heard. “But they’re family jokes,” he said, “because they’re about family.”
All three gags were prefaced with warnings about their vileness, preceding them with lessons on joke telling. The lesson on a joke’s surprise element was prefaced with a joke about a little girl in the bathroom with her father. When she asked him when she gets a penis, he said, “When your mommy leaves for work.”
The element of surprise is a very important part of a joke, Carlin said. The surprise, he said, was that “you weren’t expecting mommy to have a job, were you?”
“A lot of people moan and groan when they hear this joke because they want to seem like better people than they are,” he said.
Carlin, who differentiated himself as an “old fuck” rather than an old man, used his time on stage to poke fun at the government, U.S. culture and, of course, being old.
Carlin also joked about the tendencies people have to make stupid comments. “When someone dies, people say, ‘Hey, did you know Phil Douglas died?’ ‘Phil D? I just saw him last week!’ Well apparently that doesn’t excuse him from physical laws,” Carlin said.
Parts of his routine were dedicated to political commentary and women’s rights in the form of several jokes, including his description of former First Lady Barbara Bush as a “silver douchebag.”
Though Carlin used his age as a catalyst for many cracks, he showed he is technologically savvy with references to digital address books and YouTube. One benefit of getting old, he said, is scratching the names of dead people out of his address book. Or, if someone uses a computer program, he said you could put your dead contacts in digital purgatory.
“You can put them in their own folder and move them around. Put two people next to each other who didn’t get along in real life and have them work it out.”
During the show, Carlin frequently referred to a sheaf of notes containing his routine. He said he was practicing the material, which he was still learning. The routine will, in some form, be used for an HBO special being filmed next year.
Opener Vance Gilbert, Carlin’s special guest, played a set uncharacteristic of a comedy show opener, performing bluesy songs on an acoustic guitar. Gilbert also beatboxed and “played” several instruments with vocal imitations of a trumpet and harmonica.
“I’m gonna do this Acapulco,” he said, before putting his guitar aside, stepping away from the mic and singing a cappella.
Gilbert changed his shtick slightly for the second show, adding a song about “nappy headed hos.”
Tim Asher, associate director of Student Activities, said about 1,600 tickets were sold. Carlin was at the College 10 years ago according to Asher, when he also performed two shows in Kendall.