Of all of the panels and presentations being offered at SXSW this year, I was most excited to see Kelly Carlin’s retrospect on life with her father, George Carlin. Yes, I know, most people my age only recognize him as Rufus from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. But I first learned about him in the late nineties as a part of my “education on what is funny” from my father.
I remember being forced to listen to records and staying up late to watch HBO specials such as Class Clown and Jammin’ In New York. While I didn’t quite understand it at the time, in my later years I learned why my dad thought Carlin was so good. He didn’t need to use gimmicks or physical comedy to make you laugh, his shtick could simply be described as observational humor on social issues. But for a guy who dropped out of school at the age of fourteen, the man was brilliant.
Carlin was truly a pioneer, a comic genius, unafraid to push boundaries. He told it like it was, questioned everything and didn’t sugarcoat anything. Looking back, I think more than anything my dad wanted me to learn about nonconformity and marching to the beat of your own drum. And while I would have been happy watching Billy Madison with the rest of my friends, I can now appreciate my comedic education.
By the way, Dad, if you’re reading this, you may think you know funny but I have seven words for you…