Last Words – By George Carlin and Tony Hendra
– 2009, published posthumously
– read by Pat Carlin on Audible.com
BOOK REVIEW – TERRANCE GAVAN
Georgie Carlin grew up with an alcoholic father, a neurotic mother, a brother who served as the punching bag for their dad and the imprimatur of all of New York Cityshaping his childhood.
Young george was riding the subway to Greenwich Village, Wall Street, White Harlem, Brooklyn et al from the time he was 7 years of age.
He was a class clown. He loved his first wife Brenda. He had an older brother Pat who bore the brunt of their dad’s drunken beatings, just because, well, he was the older brother. And Pat, even he admits, could take a punch.
In fact, Pat reads Georgie’s auto bio on the Audible.com book.
He sounds? Like his brother of course. He has that same gruff harshness part nails and part seven week whiskey binge rasp and he is a penultimate New York Mick, who grew up Catholic in a city that hated the Irish.
Unless you needed a cop? Or a judge or a fireman, the people of New York City were, back in the 50s of the opinion that Irish Catholics were… flawed. They drank. They fought. They read poetry. They had too many fucking children. As Georgie would opine in late life, the fucking in this case was not an epithet but a diagnosis of the problem. The Irish fucked too much… and because of that Pope? They used rhythm not birth control. How did that work out. Ever see an Irishman dance?
They were not regarded as part of genteel society. Unless you needed someone in a tight spot. Then call a desk sergeant by the name of Colin Murphy.
Georgie Carlin was flawed? Of course.. all comics are flawed. Nearly all are in the process of getting detoxed or staying sober. It is part of the program. Too many nights on the road.
But so are we all… flawed.
Comics just get to put their flaws on display… and they get to show us that it’s okay. Count your flaws and then count your blessings.
Georgie credits LSD with opening up his tight ass sensibilities and his sellout motif. George, in spite of all that success, felt that his routines were not in line with what he really wanted to do.
He wanted success, and he wanted acclaim. But he wanted to be a part of that liberal thrust. He was pissed at himself because
he spent his early life attempting to please the public and he was most pissed when invited to the Smothers Brothers Show and he leaned on one of his most successful routines: Indian Sergeant.
“I had a chance to do something real. And I did the Indian Sergeant. I should have spent a month writing a routine about something real. The war. I let Tommy Smothers down, because I was too lazy to write something new.”
In the latter half he spent his time attempting to live down all of that crowd-pleasing crap. Hippie Dippie news man. Indian Sergeant.
He talks of the birth of the seven words.. and he recalls his many arrests.. he was arrested along with his partner (yes he was part of an two guy act) Jack Burns at a Lenny Bruce concert.. He and Jack waited .. in the audience and offered some epithets to the cops who had stopped Lenny mid hum. For obscenity.
As the cops bum rushed him out the door?
He turned to his long-suffering wife Brenda… “Honey I’m going to jail … don’t wait up…”
He chats about his cocaine/grass habit and he is honest to a fault about his coke problems.
His schtick about several appearances on the Ed Sullivan are hilarious. He talks about Sullivan’s celebrated lack of edit… about how Ed was always on stage with his guests, right on stage… just off camera. “It was fucking nerve-wracking,” writes Georgie.
And he chats about Ed’s outrageously inappropriate intros and exit lines.
Carlin was called over once to chat with the arms crossed Sullivan,after his set.
“You’re Catholic?” he asked. George nodded.
“Ladies and Gentlemen George Carlin.. a funny man and he’s Catholic .. Let’s hear it for George!”
Jesus H Christ!. I mean Ed? Edit?
His friend Jose Feliciano appeared on Sullivan and Carlin was there for this intro from Ed.
“Ladies and gentleman Jose Feliciano… tremendous singer and guitar player… He’s BLIND! And he’s Puerto Rican!
“Let’s hear it for Jose Feliciano.” I mean Jesus Ed.
Pat was the logical choice to read this book on Audible. It was finished posthumously
Pat Carlin never backed down from his dad.. and his dad was a terror. A high-functioning alcoholic who stalked the family after his mom grabbed the kids and hightailed it outta’ that shapeless marriage. Thankfully, her dad was a New York Cop. And George and Pat’s grandad made sure that once it was over. It was over. They had police escorts in the early days after the separation.
Because dad was always lurking in the bushes trying to get another hearing from his family. Ironically dad was a high functioning drunk. Ad salesman extraordinaire. Made a great living. But his home was a mess when he was there.
Pat. Pat became a car salesman in California until George gave him a nudge to get his funny on.
“Pat was always a great writer.. and I thouight he was wasting that talent as a used car salesman.” Pat is a great reader and he sounds like? Guess who.
His brother Georgie.
Pat reads that bio well. It’s why you must get your own Audible.com on if you really want to hear this book.
Pat gives the performance humorously. And? Lovingly… he always had his younger brother’s back… even after he passed.
Georgie followed his brother into the army.
When they left they had five court martials between them..
Pat had three and George had two.
The army gave George his one big break… they trained him to be a radio announcer… and he took that training and ran with it. To Boston, to Fort Worth and then finally to California.
He ran into another comic in a newsman’s clothing , Jack Burns. Burns he credits with giving him the liberal sensibilities that followed him the rest of his life.
George grew up in a Republican household and in his youth was a big fan of Joe McCarthy and J Edgar Hoover… yes.. those guys were role models for the young New York Irish kid. Jack Burns drove the crazy right out of George… and they burgeoned as a comic duo. later jack went on to team with Avery Schreiber and they killed it in the 60s and 70s.
They traveled… George, Brenda and Jack…. on the road across America playing small clubs and big clubs and many of the sixties art houses. They got invites to do Playboy Clubs and they had a standing invite to Hef’s Mansion.
Carlin became friends with the legends, the folkies who were just then occupying prominence in the hippie dippie movement.
So… now what? Well?
This is a very good book.
Of course you should read it. But do yourself a favor.
Get an audible book subscription and listen to his older brother Pat spin the dis’ about his brother.
There’s love ion every word… from both brothers. Oh and Tony Hendra the co-writer is and was a very good friend of Georgie. Tony? Thanks for finishing the piece for Georgie. Ya’ did good kid!
Ileave you with… “shit piss cunt fuck motherfucker… ah, fuck you know the rest.
Terry Gav – Editor – TheShrike.ca.