Carlin, Standup, and Teaching

Last week I read George Carlin’s “sortabiography”, Last Words. It’s a very interesting look at his life and career and all the stuff you never knew about but really wondered as he went from HBO special to album to Kevin Smith appearance and everything else.

I was especially struck (as I often am) by the similarities between standup comedy and how I teach. To wit, on p. 250:

I’d never use the word “teaching” (rhymes with “preaching”), if for no other reason than when new ideas are conveyed via instruction (or speechifying or debate), people seem to have an instinctive defense against them.

But when you’re in front of an audience and you make them laugh at a new idea, you’re guiding their whole being for the moment. No one is ever more herself or himself than when they really laugh. Their defenses are down. It’s very Zen-like, that moment. They are completely open, completely themselves when that message hits the brain and the laugh begins. That’s when new ideas can be implanted. If a new idea slips in at that moment, it has a chance to grow.

And later he returns to this theme, on p. 280:

The creation of material is the ultimate freedom because that’s creating the world I want. I’m saying to people: the world you imagine isn’t really true: THIS is what’s happening: “Boogadee! Boogadee! Boogadee!” Even if I’m just babbling. I’m saying: THAT is what’s true. What is. Here and now. Whatever you think to be true, you with the suit and the hat, on the subway or the freeway, is bulls***. THIS is true: “Boogadee! Boogadee! Boogadee!” I am momentarily changing the world to THIS. I am reinventing the world because I can.

Yeah, that’s pretty much what teaching is all about.


Here’s a turtle dancing to Benny Benassi’s song “Satisfaction”. Much better than the official video.

Also “Flat Beat” is really cool.

Today I’m listening to: PWOG!

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