A hush fell over the crowd at the Yale Art Gallery late yesterday afternoon as a packed auditorium anticipated the entrance of controversial comedian George Carlin. The crowd burst into applause when notoriously irreverent Carlin, appropriately dressed in a casual sweatshirt, jeans and sneakers ensemble, appeared from offstage holding a bottle of soda.
Carlin, who is perhaps best known for his explicit HBO specials, his role as Mr. Conductor on the children’s show “Shining Time Station” and his role in “Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey,” visited Yale for a talk co-sponsored by Pierson College and the Yale Record. For over an hour in front of a capacity crowd, Carlin shared his unique and often provocative views on his childhood, the Church and censorship.
After being introduced jokingly by Yale Record public relations director Jules Lipoff ’03 as “the most prolific comedian of our time,” Carlin took a sip from his bottle of soda and began to speak about his early life.
“I know I am a very lucky individual,” Carlin said
He then described the extraordinary circumstances of his birth. Not only was Carlin conceived out of the chance meeting of his parents after they had already split up, but also he was saved from abortion when his mother saw a “sign” in an oil painting in the waiting room of the abortion clinic.
“By the way,” Carlin said, “I still support abortion even though I was almost done in.”
Carlin then opened the floor to questions. When asked to comment on the recent election, Carlin replied that though he dislikes discussing topical issues, he would rather discuss politics “with a lowercase ‘p.'”
“I was embarrassed in the midst of the Florida election thing, when all the media wanted to show was what ‘Saturday Night Live,’ Leno and Letterman were doing,” Carlin said. “It was very superficial.”
A controversial topic arose when a student asked Carlin about his animosity toward the Church.
“I felt betrayed by the Church. They led me down a path and didn’t deliver,” Carlin said, referring to his experience with communion. “Religion is a dehumanizing instrument.”
Many students laughed and others sat silent after Carlin mocked the “belief of an invisible man in the sky who watches you and keeps score.”
“The Ten Commandments is a political document,” Carlin said. “You only need two [commandments].”
A student later asked what these two commandments were.
“First, though shalt always be honest and true to the source of thy nookie,” Carlin replied. “Second, though shalt try real hard not to kill anyone unless, of course, they deserve it.”
The conversation then turned to Carlin’s role on “Shining Time Station,” a PBS children’s show.
“I don’t have any particular affinity for children,” Carlin said. “I never had to be near the kids, it was all blue screen.”
One of the last questions involved the court case surrounding Carlin’s “Seven Dirty Words.” On July 21, 1972, at the Summerfest Festival in Milwaukee, Carlin was arrested and charged with obscenity and disorderly conduct because of the language used in his routine “The Seven Words You Can’t Say on TV.” The Federal Communications Commission prohibits the seven words from being used on television.
“I just like being a footnote in American history,” Carlin said of the case.
Carlin is currently preparing for the April 24 release of his book, “Napalm and Silly Putty.” He said he is also working on his 12th HBO show, which he said is titled “I Kind of Like It When a Lot of People Die.”