Monday, June 23, 2008

Seven Dirty Words

Comedian George Carlin passed away on Sunday

(skippy has a great roundup of blogtopia's remembrances.)

Here's mine: Some years ago I worked with George one night when my sound company provided the PA and I got to be the engineer. (It helps when you own the company;-)

Like a lot of comedians, George was very serious about his comedy. Sound check was longer than I've spent with some 10 piece bands. I didn't mind, we both wanted the show to be perfect.

George worked every corner of the stage, with his voice rising to a shout and falling to a whisper, and it took time to make sure there was no ringing feedback or distorted lines. He wasn't rehearsing, I don't recall him doing any routines during sound check, he was just making sure his voice could be heard from the orchestra pit to the cheap seats regardless of timbre or emphasis.

He was one of the most intense and professional artists I've ever worked with. And that's understandable. One person with a mic trying to make people laugh is the hardest gig in show business. Even a solo musician has their instrument to keep them company while they face the audience.

Now fix that in your mind so you can envision what I saw when I checked with him backstage just before he was going to perform. The 'opening act' was the finalists from a local battle of the comics. They'd just done their bits and came backstage.

We are literally standing in the wings, less than a minute to showtime, and while I put a fresh battery into Mr. Carlin's mic I hear him giving advice to these amateurs about how to succeed in comedy.

At the very moment when most artists are pacing back and forth in the most insecure moment of their professional lives, George is taking time to encourage these kids.

It takes huge heart and a gracious soul to do that.

Goodbye George, the pleasure was all mine.

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak