George Carlin, 1937-2008

The news of George Carlin’s death of heart failure hit particularly close to home for his many fans in Sonoma County, and especially those in the sold-out crowd at Carlin’s two Wells Fargo Center performances earlier this year, on February 29 and March 1.

Wells Fargo Center Director of Programming Rick Bartalini offers this behind-the-curtain recollection:What impressed me most about Carlin’s time here this past February and March was he made it a family affair. His manager, publicist, producers, agents and staff were all part of his extended family, people that had been part of his team for decades. After taping two exhausting specials in February and March here, George could have easily got on the plane and went home. Instead he took well over an hour to walk around and personally thank each person on the production staff. It was the type of gesture that you don’t see often in this business. Sonoma County had a love affair with Carlin over the years, selling out 5 performances over the years as well as selecting the Center to be the stage for his 14th and final live comedy special for HBO. On selecting Santa Rosa as the location for the special, Carlin said, “I didn’t feel like going to New York. New York’s energy is unique, but I felt like changing the whole feel of the show. I’ve always had good audiences in Santa Rosa. I get a lot of good smart people, left of center, and they like for you to take some chances. It’s not like a Los Angeles audience.”

The first part of the HBO special from the Wells Fargo Center is on YouTube here. This excerpt resonates for those who just saw him:Now, speaking of dead people, there are things we say when someone dies. Things we say that no one ever questions. They just kind of go unexamined. I’ll give you a couple examples. After someone dies, the following conversation is bound to take place, probably more than once. Two guys meet on the street: “Hey, did you hear? Phil Davis died.”“Phil Davis? I just saw him yesterday!”“Yeah? Didn’t help. He died anyway.”

Carlin’s incredible “Seven Words You Can’t Say On Television” routine is here. “A Place For My Stuff” is here, and “Religion is Bullshit” is here. He was an irreplaceable genius, and we’ll miss him.

Sonoma County Library