He may never have trod the boards of Broadway like other comedians, but George Carlin certainly knew how to command a stage. He also knew how to get himself arrested from one, too.
I was sad to learn that the great comedian died yesterday of heart failure. He was truly one of a kind.
Having grown up in Milwaukee, I certainly knew who Carlin was -- he has been a household name there for 36 years. After all, it was his appearance at Brew City's Summerfest in 1972 where he was famously arrested for including the seven words you can't say on television (or at the time, on a stage in Milwaukee) in his act.
As the very first host of NBC's "Saturday Night Live," Carlin questioned everything from the ingenious to the inane. One of my favorite riffs from that appearance concerned the color of food:
Why is there no blue food? I can't find blue food - I can't find the flavor of blue! I mean, green is lime; yellow is lemon; orange is orange; red is cherry; what's blue? There's no blue! Oh, they say, "Blueberries!" Uh-uh; blue on the vine, purple on the plate. There's no blue food! Where is the blue food? We want the blue food! Probably bestows immortality! They're keeping it from us!Years later, as I was riding an escalator at the Las Vegas Airport, who should be standing right in front of me but the affable George Carlin himself. And of all things I could muster to tell him I appreciated, it was that riff on blue food. So generous and kind and interested was the comedian, that the two of us ended up having a conversation all the way down to the departure gate for my flight.
Almost in spite of those seven infamous words, the man had the capacity for making one think about life and all its mysteries, banalities and indignities with amazing insight and amusing humor.
And even though he may never have found that elusive blue food that could make us immortal, he made us laugh. He will be missed.
This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).