George Carlin uses a memoir to give his “Last Words”

By Larissa Gula

“Last Words”

George Carlin with Tony Hendra

Free Press

Grade: B-

The late George… “Last Words”

George Carlin with Tony Hendra

Free Press

Grade: B-

The late George Carlin’s life story was bound to become a memoir. Carlin performed provocatively humorous acts, sparked controversy over Federal Communications Commission regulations and struggled to make a living and keep his life together.

Despite being most famous for swearing on stage as a comedian, such as in his “Seven Dirty Words” routine, George Carlin was also a social critic, actor and author. His recorded comedy albums, which humorously scrutinized society and politics, won a total of five Grammy Awards during his career.

After 50 years of performing comedy, Carlin died on June 22, 2008 because of heart failure. He was 71.

In his posthumously published memoir, “Last Words,” Carlin speaks in an uncensored narrative, yet his book has far fewer dirty words than his stand-ups feature.

Carlin’s longtime friend Tony Hendra, who interviewed Carlin over a number of years to help him document his rich and complex history, compiled “Last Words.”

“Last Words” is not a humorous story, though Carlin’s quirky sense of humor does occasionally arise, easing tension created as he reveals his personal life history. His memoir details a love-hate relationship with his mother, as well asan early love for language and comedy. Some aspects of his past are more startling than others, given his attitudes on stage were the blueprints of the persona most people knew.

As he dissects what he liked — or more often hated — in his early career, Carlin’s story reveals the unseen complications he endured. He also reveals his battle with heart and drug problems, as well as his relationship with his family.

An interesting part of the memoir is that Carlin never says he regrets. Instead, he writes fluently and honestly, never denying or defending himself. He tells his story, and makes it clear that his past led him to become the award-winning comedian whose shows are still featured on late-night HBO comedy programs quite often.

Carlin, who felt comedy held a fascinating power in society, was a renowned comedian who would inadvertently inspire others to find their funny voice. His comedy stirred up the crowds of listeners as often as it entertained them with provocative views and language.

Carlin’s book is not the story of a bad person turned good. It’s the honest tale of a person living his life, who followed his dreams and held to his personal morals and ideas. It’s honestly Carlin.