I’m reading Althouse’s Fisking of Maher’s recent yammering crap about his uncomfortable role in the ongoing Limbaugh outrage kabuki, and the only thing I take away is that this tool has the nerve to cast himself as Carlin’s successor.
Lemme explain something to you, Bill: You are not Carlin’s successor. You are not fit to eat Carlin’s mouldering feces. George Carlin had toenails that were funnier than you.
What is the basis of this statement? I spent most of my youth and young adulthood listening to Carlin. My dad had his old 70’s albums on vinyl, and I bought a lot of his 90’s stuff on tape and CD. It was like listening to two different men. 70’s George is cheerful, whimsical, offering questions and ponderings and pariodies. 90’s George is furious, raging, layering thundering denunciations on top of bizarre, off-kilter jokes. What tied the two together was a method focused on language, and the consideration of the assumptions of language. It wasn’t just foul language, although Carlin used dirty words to wonderful effect. There were ideas, or at least questions, underlying the comedy. Carlin was the Diogenes of our age.
Bill Maher may have intended to follow in Carlin’s footpaths, but that’s not where he ended up. I remember watching Maher in his early days, and I thought, even then, that he relied too much on applause lines rather than actual jokes. He’s continued down that road, and is now a standard-issue left-liberal audience-flatterer.
Carlin never flattered his audience; he went out of his way to challenge and offend them. He had no constituencies that he spared, no ideological camp that could count him as one of them. He could raise the Problem of Evil as an attack on religion, and then skewer environmentalists as “smug, self-serving bourgeois liberals.” I don’t know if Carlin ever had a million dollars to spare, but he would have kissed the Pope’s ring before he gave it to a presidential campaign.
The only reason anyone should ever utter Maher’s name in the same sentence as Carlin is to illustrate the decline of Irish-American stand-up comedy. As someone with plenty of green blood, I can tell you that being Irish doesn’t make you funny. As often as not, it makes you a smug, self-serving asshat with more fat on his liver than hair on his head.