Carlin’s Corner: Man
who gave us 7 words you can’t say on TV goes to the great stand-up improv in
By Fred Mills
George Carlin is dead at 71, from heart failure. He passed
away yesterday in Los Angeles after being admitted
to St. John’s Health Center complaining of chest pains; the comedian had a
history of heart trouble.
What can we say? He was a legend and a pioneer. In 1972 he
was arrested for “disturbing the peace” following a comedy sketch in Milwaukee
in which he uttered his famous list of “seven words you can never say on
television,” and after a radio station aired the routine it triggered an
obscenity case that went all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled that the
sketch was “indecent but not obscene,” thereby making Carlin part of legal
More recently, Carlin contributed to BLURT predecessor Harp magazine’s comedy issue. In our
September 2007 issue, in a Carlin-penned article titled “How Radio Changed My
Life” he reminisced about growing up in the ‘50s and creating mock-radio
programs with a tape recorder, later graduating to being a Top 40 deejay
himself. Wrote Carlin:
“Top 40 was only a couple of years old; not many
markets had Top 40 stations. We’re talking about stations that just played a
single playlist, over and over. This was proving to be a big thing in the ’50s,
and we were in on the ground floor. Rock ’n’ roll was just getting started. The
year that I went there, Elvis Presley’s ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ was the hit. It was
just the beginning of the white people taking over the black people’s music.
“See, I grew up in Harlem.
I grew up with real rhythm-and-blues, not that stuff by the McGuire Sisters and
the Crew-Cuts and all of these fake, white groups that covered the black hits.
I hated when the whites took over the music. I didn’t really enjoy this rock
’n’ roll as much as some of the kids I was playing it for. I just had that
little cultural divide, where I was more of a black-music person and I was
playing this hybrid of black music and country that came to be called rock ’n’
“Now, again, not passing judgment on rock ’n’ roll,
‘cause [it] came to be a philosophy beyond just a certain way of having the
beats in a measure of music arranged. So I am definitely a rock ’n’ roll person
when it comes to that. I understood why the kids liked it, I loved playing it
’cause it was energetic and exciting, but I wasn’t a fan. I would go back and
pick out other things.
“We had a playlist, but it was not rigid. You
didn’t get punished if you played something you liked; you could do what you
wanted. We were allowed to develop a little bit of patter and an on-the-air
personality. I called it ‘Carlin’s Corner’ for a while.”
Thank ya, sir. Your contribution to Harp was greatly appreciated.
And all you parents out there: like it or not, Carlin wielded an influence of sorts upon your little carpet sharks circa 1991-97: that’s when he served as the voice of the narrator on the Thomas The Tank Engine kid’s show Thomas & Friends. Bet ya didn’t hear any of those seven words then!
Okay, in tribute to GC, let’s revisit those words. (The
usage examples that follow each word come from Wikipedia.) You might not be
able to say ‘em on TV, but we can sure as fuck post ‘em to this website.
- Shit – The bird shit on the statue.
- Piss – I have to piss like a race horse.
- Fuck – Fuck you.
- Cunt – She has a gorgeous cunt.
- Cocksucker – Go to hell, you cocksucker.
- Motherfucker – You are a motherfucker.
- Tits – Hey, nice tits.
Later, Carlin referred to three additional “auxiliary” words:
- Fart – I farted.
- Turd – Who dropped a turd in the urinal?
- Twat – Shave that hairy twat.