Sunday, June 24, 2007

George Carlin: Life is Worth Losing: Grade C


George Carlin: Life is Worth Losing (2005)

Carlin is a modern master and I am a long time fan. But in this, his 13th HBO stand-up, he fulminates unrelentingly against people and life with little leavening from irony or nonsequitur. He wants to start a live suicide show on cable to demonstrate how stupid people are. He dwells on the details of autoerotic asphyxia. He describes an apocalyptic world of fire, flood and total destruction. The material is imaginative, poetically written, and energetically delivered, but is it funny? There are some funny ideas sandwiched into this breathless, high-speed recital, but for the most part, it comes across as the ravings of an old geezer. Standout material is his well-known introductory poem: “…I've been inputted and outsourced. I know the upside of downsizing I know the downside of upgrading. I'm a high tech low-life. A cutting-edge, state-of-the-art, bi-coastal multitasker and I can give you a gigabyte in a nanosecond. I'm new wave but I'm old school and my inner child is outward bound…” It’s a marvelous piece that will go down in comic history. He also makes some acerbic remarks about American politics and culture that really bite, but these are brief. “It's called the American Dream. Because you have to be asleep to believe it.” The rest is just ranting. His language is as Carlin-esque as ever and that’s an enjoyable art form in its own right, but where is the guy who used to take the little sewing kit in the hotel room and sew buttons onto the lampshades "just to leave a mark?” An artist has a right to change to a new mode, but I miss his sublime silliness.

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