George Carlin Belongs To All Of Us — Including Conservatives

George Carlin died in 2008, but he’s very much alive in popular culture.

In fact, the battle over his comedic legacy may have just begun. Not only are progressives doing everything possible to claim Carlin as their own, but they are also denying any attempts by the Right to do the same.

The New York Times acknowledged that fact via a May 11 feature on the late comic’s continued presence in our political debates.

On an almost daily basis, parts of Carlin’s routines rise to the surface of our discourse, and he is embraced by people who span the political spectrum — they may rarely agree with each other, but they are certain that Carlin would agree with them.

That speaks well of Carlin, both as a humorist and as someone whose wisdom wasn’t so black and white that it repels one side of the aisle.

Except that’s what The New York Times wants, to repel one side of the aisle. So, too, does Carlin’s daughter, Kelly Carlin. Together, they deem any attempt on the Right to leverage Carlin’s shtick as “dangerous.”

But the continued relevance of Carlin’s material can be dangerous, too. Dislocated from the time and circumstances that inspired his work, the arguments he delivered can be made to serve purposes he didn’t intend.

Like defending free speech in 2022, perhaps? The article shares this pungent Carlin quote from 1997:

“I like to bother people,” he said, adding that he tried to figure out “where the line is drawn, and then deliberately cross it and drag the audience with you. And have them happy that you did it.”

That’s exactly what the woke Left doesn’t want comedians to do now. It’s why major comedy directors like Todd Phillips of The Hangover fame gave up on the genre, and big-screen comedies became an endangered species.

That also explains why an artist many call the King of Stand-Up Comedy, Dave Chappelle, nearly got dethroned last year by telling jokes the hard Left loathed.

Kelly Carlin suggests her father would stand up for both free speech and the Chappelles of the world. That’s a key reason conservatives look back fondly on Carlin’s work. They know he was anti-faith, pro-choice and progressive in many concrete ways.

They don’t care.

Nor do they mind that Ricky Gervais doesn’t support GOP-friendly causes. The Right rallies to Gervais’ side because he roasts Hollywood liberals and defends free speech without reservation.

They believe Carlin would do the latter, assuming he didn’t fall down the hard-Left rabbit hole like too many modern progressives. And that’s why Carlin’s legacy now comes with an asterisk. Only progressives are allowed to weaponize his wit, his pre-Twitter hot takes.

Carlin’s daughter fretted some might see her pappy as “anti-vax,” too, despite the misinformation about the medicine’s efficacy and those draconian vax mandates. Carlin, the eternal hippie, might have a problem seeing the government strip people of their livelihoods, no?

The next salvo in the Carlin Wars? HBO’s “George Carlin’s American Dream,” which debuted May 20, offers a comprehensive look at his life and comedic legacy. Co-directed by avowed progressive Judd Apatow, the two-part documentary’s trailer leans into the comic’s liberal bona fides.

 

Apatow’s involvement is both appropriate and curious. The director of The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up reigned over the U.S. comedy scene for at least a decade, even if those triumphs couldn’t be replicated today due to the woke speech police.

All that dude-bro white privilege, for starters, would get the heave-ho.

Now? Apatow is a hard-charging partisan eager to smite comics for telling the “wrong” jokes. Case in point? Apatow’s 2019 attack on Louis C.K. for an edgy routine mocking the Parkland, Fla. high school shooting survivors as gun control “experts.”

It’s the kind of bit that Carlin might have loved. Dark. Bold. Line-crossing. Or, as the woke Left might say, off limits.

It’s a fool’s errand for Kelly Carlin, or any of us, to know what her father would say if he were still alive today. Regurgitating his old routines may “own” a few conservatives on social media, but that’s the extent of their clout.

His willingness to fight for our right to tell the wrong jokes? That’s eternal, even if one side cringes at conservatives evoking his name toward that end.

 

Written by Christian Toto

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