Using a lot of cuss words may not make you a dude, but it doesn’t hurt — especially if you use them skilfully, and not just because you have such a shitty vocabulary that you don’t know any modifiers beyond "fuckin’."
The value, after all, of a well-placed vulgarity is its power to shake things up, to draw attention, and to break taboo. This accomplishes what comedy does best: lets off steam — and sometimes other bodily fluids too.
Moreover, anyone can be brilliant with big smarty-pants words, but to be brilliant with expletives is a true art. Note that few but the ingenious Coen Brothers could write one of the most slyly intellectual comedies in history and at the same time stuff it full of more fucks than Eddie Murphy Raw.
According to Comedy Central’s 100 Greatest Stand Ups of All Time, the top three standup comedians in history were not cutesy punsters like Henny Youngman or charming raconteurs like Steve Allen or wacky wildmen like Steve Martin. No, the funniest fellers of all time just happened to be Da Vincis of dick jokes, Michaelangelos of motherfucker, and Shakespeares of shit: That is to say, these three were particularly famous among their fellow comics for a trailblazing exaltation of low language.
Coming in at number one was Richard Pryor. Number two was George Carlin. Number three was Lenny Bruce. While any of us would have been privileged to enjoy a beer or twenty with either of these gut-busting funnymen, only one expounded a distinctively Dudeist worldview: George Carlin. The philosophical legacy he bequeathed the world might be summed up simply as "fuck it."
Perhaps more than any other comedian in history outside of Bill Hicks, Carlin was a trenchant social critic. His distinctive talent was to unclothe our culture, to strip it naked and show that what was truly vulgar was not johnsons and vaginas, but the hypocrisy hidden underneath all the fashion. His routines proved that human biology tends to be far less disgusting than human sociology.
Furthermore, he demanded, how can people get so upset by mere words, when the suppression of our freedom of speech is far more despicable — not to mention, unconstitutional? This affects all of us, Dude. Lenny Bruce died face down in the muck to defend our basic freedoms.
In the end, what Carlin did most of all was prove the transformative power of humor. A product and progenitor of the American revolution in civil liberties in the 60s and 70s, he had an arguably more lasting effect than most official political activists, simply because he was funnier. Carlin knew how to make light when darkness warshed over. Just as the lessons of The Big Lebowski affect us more deeply because they’re laced with laughter, his jazzy, beatnik-style social commentary is better remembered today than most radical rant-a-thons. It certainly reached a much wider audience.
As the saying goes, you can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar. And you can catch even more with some really funny shit.
(Rest in Peace, George. 1937 – 2008)
Recommended George Carlin stuff:
Class Clown (featuring "Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television")
It’s Bad for Ya
Three Times Carlin: An Orgy of George
Napalm & Silly Putty
The Arch Dudeship says
Carlin was definitely a Great Dude and a satirical genius, especially in the way he deconstructed words (and the “realities” they create).
A nice chunk of my life has been spent laughing at what he said…an even larger chunk has been spent *thinking* about what he said.
Irish Monk says
Well, I guess we can close the file on that one!
Good night, sweet prince. Abide in Peace
Lone dude says
I must say that about 15 years ago I met Mr. Carlin in an airport. At the time I knew who he was but was not a big fan c’mon I was only 18 at the time. He sat down next to me at the terminal and I was freightened for the life of me I could not remeber his name and I knew he was a comdeian and furthermore knew he would not be too tolerant of an awkward 18 year old if a conversation struck up. Well it did, and he never made any mention to who he was. I felt like an idiot compared to his wit and tried to keep up but it was useless so I just went along for the ride. It is one of my most prize memories and I’m quite sure he never gave our meeting a second thought after he got on the flight but I really believe it had a huge impact on where I am and who I am today. Thank you George.
I’m still bummed about his passing. We need someone like Carlin. Yes, he could be off-putting to some who didn’t like his choice of words, but he was a counterbalance to the PC-ness of our times. Words exist for a reason, and he was adept at using them to get across what he saw as society’s problems. A genuine wordsmith.
We fuckin’ love ya, George.
Man, I couldn’t agree more with George’s elevation to Dudehood here. I already miss him…but there will be other teachers….
The Once and Future Dude says
there was never a greater dude then George.
J.J. Vicars says
George Carlin was my public voice. No poltician, ever. Just Carlin. He verbalized the anger and animosity I have towards my country and it’s brainwashed, limp-dicked citizens better than anyone. He was, and still is, the needed voice of rage and scorn. This is not “rebel without a cause” rage and scorn. This is contempt for the self-righteous and the hypocritical. This is seething at Big Business who rapes our land and others to feed their own monkey, who drive down wages and benefits to increase their bonuses. This is disgust with a knee-jerk reactionary public who continues to support war-mongering, corporate-sponsored talking heads because “he’s one of us” whether Right or Left. This is not hiding behind Pacifism.
George Carlin’s The Ten Commandments, Who Really Controls America and You Have No Rights sums it all up. If you’re not pissed off you’re not paying attention. His was the last voice of reason. The big guns seem to have won, just as they won against the Indians a long time ago and in other people’s countries to this day. All a Dude can do now is retreat from the madness, like Yoda and Obi-Wan in STAR WARS, and wait for ripe time.
The Mad Wombat says
Dude, you gotta take ‘er easy! Carlin was never about rage but rather outrage!