The Early George Carlin 1956-1970

17.08.2008 #GeorgeCarlin

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When a celebrity dies, the varied newspaper obituaries rarely reveal anything that isn't common knowledge. However, in the case of the late George Carlin, even some of his most fervent fans were likely surprised to find out that he was once a member of an early sixties comedy team. Several discovered for the first time that he had been a gifted mimic, his abilities putting impressionists like Rich Little to shame (perhaps not a hard thing to do). The clean version of George Carlin has been immortalized on what is commonly and erroneously referred to as his "first album" Take Offs and Put Ons. The clean (and clean shaven) version of Carlin can be seen nightly in most television markets across North America, sitting on a 1966 Tonight Show panel performing his character Al Sleet, the Hippy Dippy weatherman, on an infomercial for Johnny Carson DVDs. Despite all this, the early, square years of George Carlin's show business career remain enigmatic. I grant you these years are not as profound or as important as his precise, scathing, intellectual material of the nineteen seventies and the great HBO specials that followed, but they are a fascinating look into the formative and transformative process of a great mind and the evolution of an artist.