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George Carlin, R.I.P.




Legendary comic George Carlin, whose edgy yet thought-provoking material about sex, drugs and human nature made him a counter-culture hero for four decades, died Sunday of heart failure at age 71. Carlin won four Grammys, penned three best-selling books, released 22 comedy albums and 14 HBO specials and hosted the first episode of Saturday Night Live (while high on coke, he said) — but his most famous bit was "Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television." When a radio station played the routine on the air in 1973, it launched a court battle over indecency that ultimately reached the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that the FCC could in fact ban them when children might be listening. Comedy Central once listed Carlin and Richard Pryor as the two greatest standups of all time. And while he still performed regularly — his publicist told the Associated Press he did a show in Vegas this month — younger fans might know him best from his films, such as Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Kevin Smith’s Dogma and Jersey Girl, and Cars (he voiced Fillmore, the hippie VW bus). He was due to receive the Kennedy Center’s prestigious Mark Twain Prize for American Humor this fall.

In lieu of Music Monday, we present a short clip of Carlin discussing the general goofiness of boy names like Todd. The language is not safe for work, but there's no doubt Carlin would have wanted it that way. (Besides, you try finding a clean Carlin clip on YouTube.)

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 9:49am]


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