Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Review: George Carlin Reads to You by George Carlin

George Carlin Reads to YouGeorge Carlin Reads to You by George Carlin
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I remember George Carlin as a lot more open-minded. I suppose, when I was still in high school, his comedy must've seemed gleefully subversive. Revisiting these books mostly just made me sad.

George Carlin Reads to You is a collection of three of George Carlin's books on audio, read by the author with the kind of comic timing they deserve. They're not narratives; some of the jokes are one-liners, or they're just lists of observations. There are a few longer jokes, or stories about his upbringing, but there isn't anything to tie them together.

Unfortunately, a lot of his humor is of the punch-down variety. He picks on people with disabilities, complaining about being asked to stop referring to those with physical disabilities as "handicapped," and frequently stooping to poke fun at people with intellectual disabilities. I can already hear the George Carlin who wrote these books sneering at the "politically correct" terms above, but his lack of empathy doesn't make him funny.

Carlin seems to assume the reader is male, relating stories he assumes the reader will be able to relate to because they're just like him. He couldn't have written the book from any perspective other than his own, but his assumption I was in on the joke was often alienating.

The book wasn't a total waste of time. There were some jokes that got me laughing out loud, though their being framed by punch-down jokes often detracted from the humor. Carlin did have some interesting ways of looking at the world, when he wasn't reveling in being a jerk just to be a jerk.

If you like George Carlin, this is certainly George Carlin. I just remember him being funnier. I think I'd rather remember him from my favorite sketches, most immortalized on YouTube. This collection just makes him sound like an old man too set in his ways to learn better.


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