Thursday, May 1, 2008

Interview with comic legend George Carlin, who performs at the Calvin this Friday night.

George Carlin still enjoys sharing observations
Sunday, April 27, 2008
By CHRIS DONDOROS/Springfield Republican

After more than a half century on stage, George Carlin still makes a living doing what he loves - saying exactly what's on his mind.

The 70-year-old comedian will appear at the Calvin Theatre on Friday night and audiences can expect to see much of the material from his recent HBO special, "It's Bad for Ya," which debuted on March 1.

"I don't really have to create an HBO special, I just do my concerts. I do 80 of them, 90 of them every year. That's what I do for a living, that's what I do for my art. That's how I express myself, going out there and doing these things I've written, these ideas I have," said Carlin in a recent phone interview.

"Basically what HBO does is take a picture of my con cert and send it to your house. It's not an HBO show, it's a concert," said Carlin.

"It's Bad For Ya" was Carlin's 14th stand-up comedy special for the HBO network. Three of the specials have been nominated for Emmy awards and six have won CableAce awards.

Carlin, also a Grammy award-winning author, has published three best-selling books and is working on a fourth, "Circling the Drain," a collection of essays presenting Carlin's take on modern America.

"I've seen a lot of things and heard a lot of things. So I have experiences stored up in my head - impressions and ideas and reactions to things. And everything I see creates another new reaction. And when you're 70 you have richer reactions than you do when you're 20."

"That's what all writers do, write from their experience and imagination. I take my thoughts and impressions of things and certain things I really disagree with in our culture. There's things about American culture, American society, the American nation that I have issue with," said Carlin.

"So, some of them I bring out, I dramatize them, I put comedy in them, I put what I think of as entertaining language to them. I'm not talking about cursing, I'm just talking about good, solid rhetoric, and I try to express myself that way," he said.

Regarding the process of writing material and putting together a stage show, Carlin said he believes he's evolved over the course of time.

"I used to think of myself as a comedian who wrote all his own material. And then at some point, in the early 1990s, I discovered that I was a writer who performed his own material, which is a significant difference," he said.

Carlin, too, said that he feels more like an observer than a participant, feeling a level of detachment from the showbusiness industry as well as American society as a whole.

"The only thing I belong to is those show business unions - my performing, my Screen Actors Guild, my American Federation of Radio and Television Artists - those are the only things I belong to. And Triple A, in case my car breaks down," he said.

"I found at some point I had detached myself and divorced myself from the human race and American nation. Now, obviously, by definition I'm still part of them. But I don't consider myself to be, so it gives me a long distance observation post from which to watch them. And it gives me a disinterested point of view in that I have no stake in the outcome," he said.

Carlin also said that he has a full plate on the horizon, keeping himself busy with a number of different projects.

"I'm going to do another HBO special, most likely, and make it an even 15. I'm going to do another book, make a fourth book. And then I have a couple of books, one is a reminiscense, a memoir, whatever you want to call it. It's not quite an autobiography, but there's some looking back over a very, very pleasant and rich childhood," he said.

Carlin also said that he'd like to try writing a comic novel.

"And I'll probably still do some stand up, some performing, as long as I'm physically and mentally able. As long as I'm entertaining myself, I'll try to entertain them," he said.

George performs at 7 and 9:30 this Friday at the Calvin. Decent seats still available. Call 413-586-8686 or got to IHEG and get 'em online. I'll put the direct ticket link here when I get to work Monday morning, but you can figure it out. It's Sunday, and I'm going for a bike ride.

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