Yeah, that was a stretch, even for me.
I am writing to express my disappointment with George Carlin’s third book, “When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops?” I am continuing to read it only to fuel my hatred, because I would hate to make a rash decision and base my disgust off a few crappy jokes at the beginning. But no. He has a strong follow-through of crapola.
I liked his first two books, “Brain Droppings” and “Napalm and Silly Putty,” because they were insightful, funny, and really made you wonder, “Yeah, baseball IS the only major sport that appears backwards in a mirror.” He pointed out a couple funny repetitive phrases that have become part of our lexicon without us even noticing, like “added bonus” or “English language.” He even taught me a lot of things I now know to avoid, like how light-years are measurements of length, not time, and that the Immaculate Conception refers to Mary’s birth, not Jesus’. Yeah, I didn’t go to church when I was little.
But he completely dropped the ball on this one. If he were any more washed up, beached whales would feel sorry for him. Not only does he just sound like a curmudgeonly old man desperately searching for a humorous, pithy point, but he contradicts himself with complaints that cancel out previous complaints.
Let me make a little aside here to point out a pet peeve of a person I know. Let’s call him Joe. Joe likes things to be done right, but he also works in the service industry. As such, he is in the unique position to both bitch about annoying customers AND be an annoying customer himself. It’s embarrassing. He will come home after a long day and talk about the GALL of someone who wanted good service. Then he will go to dinner or the store and REAM a poor worker with unrealistic demands. Am I the only person who sees how ridiculous this is?
This is George Carlin. He has a joke in an earlier book that totally sums up my feelings about this book. Paraphrased: Did you ever notice how everyone who drives faster on the road is a maniac, and everyone driving slower than you is an idiot? This joke is funny because the world does not revolve around self-centered assholes, and they are not the judge of who is and is not a moron like they think they are. Because in this case, all the “idiots” think Carlin is the maniac, and all the “maniacs” think he’s the idiot.
Here are a few of the more specific examples of how this book pisses me off:
-He acts both ridiculously liberal and overly conservative, which makes every reader both agree with him and get pissed off. You can’t have both. That’s why we have a damn bipartisan system — both sides have good points and bad points. You can’t make a joke about loving to waste paper and asking recycling centers to fuck themselves and then, three pages later, talk about how sad it is that the rainforests are depleting. He didn’t make those specific jokes, but the real contradictions are there and arguably even less funny.
-His old formats used to be fresh and interesting. He’d have sections of blocky prose, probably perfected from stand-up routines, followed by a McSweeney’s-eque lists or commentary, then a few one-liner “Bits and Pieces” reminiscent of Gallagher, except actually funny and with less exploded produce.
Now, it’s just really forced non sequitur one-liners like “You know what kind of guy you never see anymore? A fop.” Uh…yeah? And?
And the snippets of dialogue just seem like his editor phoned him 5 minutes before the book went to print and asked for more wacky inserts, and George scrawled them on a Starbucks napkin.
-He complains about how things that should be changed, even though if they were, he would complain about them again. This is the Joe Factor, mentioned earlier.
In the book, he talks about how he hates it when, in a department store or something, people leave a BIG space between the person at the desk and the second person in line. “Why is everyone obsessed with being overpolite?” he complains, in my paraphrase. “I’m going to just step in front of the second person in line. They had their chance.” Wow. What a groundbreaking complaint. I can’t believe you got to it before Seinfeld. Only, if people didn’t do it, you’d be all “Why are these cocksuckers all breathing down my neck? Back off!”
Then he complains about how children (and people in wheelchairs) get to board planes before him, and it’s not fair. “Most children are accidents. Why should we reward people for their mistake of having children? Why can’t mature adults get on the plane first and make these idiots wait?!”
Oh, gosh, he went there! He really says what’s on his mind! Only…the plane only takes off when everyone’s aboard. It pisses ME off in airports when they’re boarding and the whole damn terminal crowds around the ticket agent. We’re all going the same place, morons. If you’re so eager to SIT, why don’t you just SIT right here until your seat block is called?
So if Carlin gets his way, he’ll get on first and complain about how all the children are blocking up the aisles and taking so long to get on.
PS – If I have learned one thing in my 26 years of flying on planes, it’s that the loudest, most clueless, aisle-blocking morons are these “mature” adults he speaks of. I’m so sure his 70-year-old ass is the most savvy plane-boarding not-at-all-annoying customer in the universe.
-In the book, Carlin makes a lot of personal complaints badly disguised as jokes. At one point, he nags about restaurants who serve desserts with chocolate and strawberries or some other fruit. “Leave my chocolate alone!” Okay. Well, good for you. Luckily, though, you’re not the King of the Universe, because I happen to like strawberries and chocolate. Maybe if you’re writing your memoirs, you can talk about how strawberries abused you as a child, but since this book is supposed to be comedic, why don’t you try making a joke or two?
-Finally, some comedian once said that he hates other comics who make jokes based on a false premise, except that it actually outs them for the idiots they are. Like “Sugarless chocolate? What marketing genius came up with that? Who in the world would buy this stuff?” Uh, diabetics? But good research on that one.
Carlin goes out to say, “Purina now has a cat food made especially for cats who live indoors. ‘Indoor cat food for indoor cats.’ Meanwhile, I’m sure you’re aware that some human beings have no food at all.”
Okay, so here he’s wearing the liberal hat, trying to make humans feel guilty for existing (like that damn Over the Hedge) by pointing out that we waste time on extraneous cat foods, while upsetting things happen elsewhere in the world.
Only…indoor cat food is supposed to contain a different calorie count, since they don’t get as much exercise as outdoor cats who daily run for their lives from cars and dogs. Also, outdoor cats have a wider diet — ie. grass, mice, trash — and thus have slightly stronger stomachs. Indoor cat food contains a formula easier on kitty’s stomach.
So, what Carlin’s joke really said was, “Some people don’t like their cats to puke. Also, some people live in poverty.” Oh, MAN! KNEE-SLAP-O-RAMA!
Here, I got another one that both says something true, then attempts to make a bleeding-heart statement. “Some people wear ponchos in the rain. Also, a few hoot owls have become extinct.” Now, where’s my HBO special?
I’m sorry, George. Let’s just pretend you stopped writing after “Napalm and Silly Putty,” and you never wrote this book or starred in “Jersey Girl.”
Carlin often apologizes at the end of his rants by saying “These are the things that I think of while I watch TV on the couch,” or “These are the things that I think about on the toilet.” Yeah. Those methods of epiphany are a pretty good example of what should not appear in a book.
Yeah, that was a stretch, even for me.