Tuesday, June 24, 2008

George Carlin exits stage right and Ben Stein lays an egg

I am not much given to expressing sentimentality on my blog.

But, I could not let the passing of comedian, George Carlin, go without paying some respect.

It may seem odd taking the time to mention some show business guy when there are so many other worthy people who die and merit recognition.

I happen to think that humour is one of the most important human attributes. Ask any woman seeking a mate (male) what are the things she would desire most, and you will find “sense of humour” most likely in the top five, if not the number one.

It is humour that keeps us sane and helps us to see the lighter side of even the darkest moments in our lives and history. I also think that being a successful stand up comedian is one of the toughest jobs in the entertainment industry. There is a long learning curve before you hit your mark, and it can be very painful for anybody that does not handle rejection well.

George Carlin was an original and set the pattern for many other people in comedy world who now enjoy popularity, like Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert. Oddly enough, when he started out in standup comedy he claimed his role model was Danny Kaye (another comedian I enjoyed immensely, back in the day). He spent 10 years struggling with the Kaye standard before he realized it was the wrong suit for him and he then developed his special brand of political and social commentary and became a huge hit.

He, of course, is best known for his famous “The Seven Words you can’t say on TV” routine, but I liked this Carlin bit I gleaned from an obituary in todays Toronto Sun.

…it was after 9-11 that the avowed agnostic (he claimed to worship the sun
"because I can see the sun, it's there for me every day") really turned the heat
on organized religion. He trimmed the Ten Commandments down to two -- "Thou
shalt not kill anyone unless they pray to a different invisible man than the one
you pray to" -- and a deconstruction merge of the falsehoods/stealing and
adultery commandments -- "Thou shalt not be dishonest." He shot down the rest,
including "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's goods" because "that is just
f-----' stupid. Coveting they neighbour's goods is what keeps the economy

Farewell, George, I know you will be missed by many.

Then there is the matter of funny man, Ben Stein, who narrates a documentary just released called, Expelled. This controversial film claims there is prejudice in academia against educators who believe in Intelligent Design. It also tries to link Darwin to eugenics, Nazis and the Holocaust; i.e., Darwin justified the Holocaust.

Whatever the merits, or lack thereof, that this work may have, it was this comment by Stein in a film promotion interview in Toronto with the National Post that caught my attention.

"It's incredibly important to treat people as human beings with a spark of the divine instead of as lumps of mud," he said, finishing his tea, "because if we're all just lumps of mud who happen to have been struck by lightening then there's no moral duty incumbent upon us to treat anyone with respect. But if there's a little bit of God within each of us, then there is that duty."

There it is again. Without a God, human beings would be amoral. Where do these people get these ideas? My respect for Stein did a nose dive when I read this pap.

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