BREAKING: George Carlin Dead at 71

Man, this is really sad. A Slashfilm fave, legendary comedian and thinking man, George Carlin, died today (Sunday) from heart failure at a Santa Monica hospital. He was admitted on Sunday afternoon after experiencing chest pains. Sadder still, Carlin was to receive the prestigious Mark Twain Prize for American Humor from the Kennedy Center this November. No word on how that event will proceed, but let’s hope it will be a fine send-off from his peers for a career that spanned five decades. Carlin said this regarding the reward: “Thank you Mr. Twain. Have your people call my people.” That is one phone call that warranted a tap.

Peter’s Thoughts: This really sucks. Carlin was not only a legendary comedian but a master wordsmith. When he delivered comedy, it was like he was singing a song or reading a poem.

If you haven’t seen every one of his HBO television specials, than you haven’t laughed. Surprisingly he made few appearances on the big screen. My favorite was his performance in Kevin Smith’s Jersey Girl, where he plays Ben Affleck’s father Bart Trinke. Strangely it’s probably his least comedic attempt on the big or small screen. His performance is heartbreaking. I never got to see Carlin live (and it’s not for a lack of trying), and that will probably be one of my biggest regrets.

“The planet isn’t going anywhere. WE ARE! Pack your shit, folks. We’re goin’ away.” – George Carlin

Hunter’s Thoughts: Carlin’s comedy routines threw your mind on the treadmill, whipped it into shape and left you dying on the couch from laughter and the absurdity of a world gone mad (and madder still). I’ve talked to several friends in just the last few minutes–everyone’s watching YouTube clips–and one memory that many of us share is watching Carlin’s superlative HBO specials with our dads. Carlin said he made a decision not to “live a lie” and to speak the truth, and his boldness and intellect closed gaps amongst generations of guys (and women too–his pro-choice bits are classic–no doubt) that rock ‘n’ roll, a lot of literature and a lot of heated discussions failed to do.

His intellect, memory and honesty were brilliant and nearly intimidating, though he wasn’t a snob by any means. He never stopped thinking, he never let his brain age, and he stood on stage like some slender, creaky lightning rod and, tellingly, nothing shot him down. Goddamn it, he was one of the greats. Let’s be sure to put younger generations onto his act and not allow ourselves to easily become that which Carlin stood so humorously against. R.I.P. He was one of the only guys I ever listened to with a pony tail.

“In Heaven, the French do the cooking, the Germans are the mechanics, the Swiss run the hotels, the Italians are the lovers and the English are the police.

In Hell, the English do the cooking, the Italians are the mechanics, the French run the hotels, the Swiss are the lovers and the Germans are the police.” – George Carlin (via /Film commenter Captain Awesome)

Discuss: How will you remember Carlin? Feel free to list your favorite quote from the man below.

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