We need to laugh more. The Bible says laughter is good medicine. It really is. That’s why we love comics so much. I grew up watching The Bob Newhart Show and The Mary Tyler Moore Show with my parents every week. I still love the classics: The Dick Van Dyke Show, Leave It to Beaver, Get Smart, and that “it really makes you think classic,” The Three Stooges.
Yep, we love our comedy and we love our comics.
That’s what makes this day in history so sad. It was nine years ago today – it’s hard to believe it’s been that long – that George Carlin died. The 71-year-old comedian died of heart failure.
Carlin made his first appearance on The Tonight Show in 1962. He became known as a clean-cut, conventional comic. But around 1970, that all changed.
Carlin reinvented himself as one who disdained all things conventional. He became a biting critic and commentator in a successful effort to appeal to a younger crowd. In 1973, the FCC held the comic’s famous routine “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television” to be “indecent,” and the FCC order banning its broadcast was upheld by the United States Supreme Court.
This did not curtail Carlin’s rise to fame. In 1975, he was the first guest host on Saturday Night Live. Two years later, he starred in the first of a series of 14 comedy specials for HBO. Carlin continued to perform his HBO specials and his live comedy gigs into the early 21st century.
No, Carlin’s brand of humor wasn’t to my liking. He became too distasteful for me – and millions of others. But he always had his following, and it was a loyal following, to be sure.
Why? Because we need to laugh. Even if what we are laughing at isn’t that funny, even if it’s rather crude – we still need to laugh.
So, while I don’t miss the comedy of George Carlin, I do miss what he brought a generation of Americans. He brought what we need now more than ever. He brought laughter.