A friend, not George Carlin, played on a video recording of an old, bald, gray-bearded man, already pronounced dead by doctors a few years back. Cusswords onstage, and more of it – so cheap a trick to glue people! As an hour passed by, I made an unconscious yet remarkable change in my reaction. I sat back from my erstwhile lying position. I had never heard his name before. The words were heard; similar if not identical. I couldn’t figure a name other than myself. Does he peek at me – the jaded, shaky, meek me standing in front of the mirror, murmuring words I failed to spit out through the day?
Of course, none could ever match him in style, language or acid. He is unfazed about losing fans, hurting sentiments, being blacklisted or prosecuted. Nor is he hesitant to hurl abuses at the government or the church, all the authorities and control freaks of the US as well as the rest of the world. An advocate of freedom of speech, of choices and most importantly, of mind – he dared the euphemists with his signature bawdiness. A dig here, a pun there, an ape here and a mindlessness everywhere – I was already bored with comedy on TV. A funny skit penned by experts, a performer with props and frills – I had enough. My arrogance had a flat tire that day. [I’m yet to experience the new standup comedians making waves in India as I don’t feel the urge. I’m quite filled with my share of George Carlin. Let me chew the cud for some more time.]
Cuss to punctuate an otherwise refined English – to me it wasn’t the coolest diction until I met him. His primary job is to speak the truth, a truth he firmly believes in. Making viewers roll into laughter is almost decimated to a side effect. Truth, to him and me, is above the glib salesmanship that marks the funny-ness of a comic. George retains his resolve when he talks his viewers into a parallel world devoid of religion, corporate lobbying, superficialities and age-old prejudices. It’s an alternative existence he speaks in favor of where life is basic, liberated and lighter. He effortlessly floats through criminals, priests, leaders, kids, dog lovers, fast food and fat Americans. Multitude of options in consumer goods, tightening of clutches in the name of values and keeping the core issues buried in bluff and gloss of business – George, do you offer anything I don’t love hating? I don’t know how to construct thoughts into words. I don’t identify with all the American nuances of yours. I don’t have your gift of the gab or candor. Most importantly, I am a coward. I take all that; but hadn’t we met before we actually met that cold evening?
An entertainer or a commentator – do you really enjoy dabbling in both roles? The older you got, the more caustic you turned, the more disillusioned you grew and the more brutal you soared. You weren’t ever a great mimic. Age replaced your caricature by straight faces, observatory ‘goofy sh**’ by trenchant wit, questions by acrimony, suggestions by despair, Al the weatherman by reverends. George Carlin, older and a decidedly bigger social critic than comedian, came down heavily on almost everything about the American life. His remarks on politics, religion, education and consumerism were consistent and loud. Don’t you feel apologetic about the harshness and the point-blank shots on people? Don’t you question yourself on conflicts of interests or contradictions? There must be guilt when you vilify someone close to you. Isn’t there a code of conduct against obscenity when you perform in public? Badmouthing parents, clergymen, leaders, addicts, Christ, cyclists, schools, people… don’t you remember you have a family of your own? Does profanity (even at 70) suit a gentleman? Are you really profound or pose to be one just to run the show? You flew in your private jet in 60s, I know! Have you charged yourself of hypocrisy ever? Is technology too advanced for you to handle? How much of your arrogance is confidence and not business? No need to reply; I know how you feel. You push yourself to test the limit of decency, because you care for an answer. Dusts do spin when you slog down the road less preferred. Sacrosanctity isn’t a goal; making sense is. You’re doing it alright, you’ve the right to curse. You’re concerned about all of us and at least attempt seeing through the veils of lies. You talk about killing because we are ‘all diseased’ anyway. Your every offense is approved at my court. Your compassion for humanity uplifts your poison to warnings against all the evils by and around us. It’s good to be brutal when facts die to be looked at but we hardly pay any attention. Thank you.
I must have met you at my ‘age of reason’ – just that I didn’t know your name and face until 2011. I’m garbling with my tenses; often struggling to keep you dead by using past tense. I’ve my selfish reasons. You didn’t quite solve a myriad of my existential doubts when I find myself surrounded by ‘people’. Nevertheless you soothe things a bit and I need your support to walk across the corridor. I seek your venom till I breathe my last. I can’t let your genius die while I live. I’ve hardly come across anyone who can convey the simplest of things, overlooked by us in a camouflage of commodities, so simply.
71 is an ambitious figure for someone who had a series of cardiac disorders starting at early 40s and substance addictions issues to deal with. I can’t complain about your death as ‘life is worth losing’; barring my wish of a dream meeting between you and the Zuckerbergs of the world. They all deserve you, to know the reality of their soul-stirring ’emotion’ engines that have held the whole world captive.