More often then angry words or spirited debate, comedy and irony are how we better understand our world and its absurdities. Sometimes it is only by ridicule that we can hold people accountable and really change the course of human events. The history of ironic comedy is certainly a rich one. But from a contemporary perspective, few have achieved the success or influence of George Carlin. For almost fifty years Carlin pushed and reestablished the rules of engagement for comedy in America. In so doing, he left us a body of work that arguably defines America in the second half of the 20th Century. Music and cultural journalist James Sullivan, in his new book Seven Dirty Words: The Life and Crimes of George Carlin, lays out the life and work of George Carlin.
George Carlin's "7 Dirty Words" routine, followed by my conversation with James Sullivan: