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There are many people who don’t get George Carlin. They think his routines are too misanthropic (“People are stupid”), too anti-religious (“Religion is bullsh*t”), or misogynistic (“rape can be funny”). Judge them from the titles alone, and you aren’t deriving any appreciation of what an impact Carlin, who died today at age 71, had on the comedy scene over the past 50 years.George Carlin was the kind of guy who could curse a blue streak, FCC be damned. (For a time capsule into how our understanding of obscenity has evolved, as well as how a treatise on obscenity can be rendered intelligently and as a thing of beauty, check out his routine about the 7 words you can’t say on television. Or if you’re sensitive to obscenity, look below for some more family friendly alternates.)Carlin resented censorship and wasn’t shy about it…but even within his survey of foul language, you can see a mind that was razor sharp, intelligent and insightful. He was a man obsessed with the peculiarities of humanity, our inconsistencies and eccentricities in everything from eating habits to religious observance. His routines were more than just setup, punch line/setup, punch line. They were delicate dances within language and delving into human personality. To experience Carlin in a relatively family-friendly manner, try this analysis of Baseball and Football, or one of his more famous routines, “Stuff”:

Not everyone will miss his comedy, his style, and his intelligence. But they should.

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