Last Words: A Memoir
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Last Words: A Memoir

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  6,456 ratings  ·  404 reviews
One of the undisputed heavyweight champions of American comedy, with nineteen appearances on the Johnny Carson show, thirteen HBO specials, five Grammys, and a critical Supreme Court battle over censorship under his belt, George Carlin saw it all throughout his extraordinary fifty-year career, and made fun of most of it. Last Words is the story of the man behind some of th...more
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Published November 10th 2009 by Simon & Schuster Audio (first published January 1st 2009)
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Patrick
I picked this audiobook up at my local bookstore years ago without even thinking about it. I'm terribly fond of Carlin, and the thought of hearing him read his own memoir was a no-brainer.

A few days later, I looked at the box more closely and saw it wasn't actually read by George Carlin himself. My desire to listen to it immediately evaporated, and I put it on the shelf, pissed.

It sat for years until just a couple days ago, I was going on a long drive and figured it would be better than sittin...more
Diane
I grew up listening to George Carlin. His HBO comedy specials, which frequently aired in the 1980s and 90s, shaped my ideas and opinions. Carlin was brilliant when he discussed language and euphemisms, and his famous bit about the Seven Dirty Words You Can't Say on Television was memorized and giggled over with friends. Carlin talked about the stupidity of Politics and War.* He talked about our obsession with Stuff. And he said Religion was Bullshit, which was the first time my young mind had he...more
Ken
A must read for every fan of Carlin, and those who want a look inside the mind of the word-obsessed, meaning-searching stand-up comedian. What we find inside is not always pretty, but it's as honest and truthful as any memoir can be.

While the book is, at times, uproariously funny, the focus here is not on comedy, but on how comedy is made. Humor, it turns out, is no laughing matter. Carlin worked meticulously on notes on topics, slowly and carefully shaping his 'bits' over years, carefully nursi...more
Seamus Thompson
I've been an admirer of Carlin for so long that it was impossible not to relish the autobiographical details and craft observations throughout this book. Since I listened to the audiobook I was also treated the eerie experience of hearing Carlin's brother, Patrick, read this book--Patrick's voice is similar to George's and, at times, he seemed to be channeling his younger brother.

Near the end of Last Words, Carlin reveals that he had always wanted to do a live one-man Broadway show about is life...more
Sheri
I've been an admirer of George Carlin since I was a teenager. My high school boyfriend took me to see Carlin in concert in KC at a time when Carlin was being threatened with arrest in every city he performed in if he did his "Seven Dirty Words" routine. Well, he did the routine, but only after having the operators of the stage lights turn up the house lights so he could point out the Kansas Bureau of Investigation agents stationed at the back of the room. Perhaps not surprisingly, he didn't get...more
Kirsti
I had no idea that George Carlin was once arrested for armed robbery. (It really did turn out to be a crazy misunderstanding.)

Carlin and his cowriter Tony Hendra did not want to write a memoir because, to them, that word was a tiresome combination of me and moi. So they referred to this as a "sortabiography."

"I used to mark my really severe drug use by the years I couldn't remember who won the World Series. There were three or four years in there, mid to late seventies. Cincinnati Reds? Twice in...more
Jack Rowley
I was always a fan of George Carlin; one of my first purchases was his first album Take-Offs and Put-Ons, which I played so often that even today I can repeat major portions of it.

If you're looking for this to be as funny as his concerts, you will be disappointed. If you want to know about the guy, which I did, you'll find this an engaging read. I really respect the way he expressed his thoughts and his love for words. Although we are both Irish Catholic, he's much more into the Irish thing and...more
Gus Sanchez
In Last Words, George Carlin takes a crack at writing his autobiography. Not content with the self-serving, aggrandizing tone that just about every autobiography takes, Carlin coins the term "sortabiography" to reflect upon his storied career, his childhood, his upbringing, and other seminal events in his life. Having completed his "sortabiography" just before his death in July 2008 (and edited by his longtime friend Tony Hendra, whom you'll remember as the well-meaning but clueless manager of t...more
Tiara
George, I had no idea. I grew up in the 90s/00s so I always knew George as the guy who cursed-- and I liked that. Little did I know that his career started anything but. Its obvious that hollywood is filled with mindless chatter, but George brings that out and confirms it. He was so real- such a realist- and in that day and age.. those were pretty hard to find.
His parts on individuality and group-minds rang so true for me. I never felt part of a group and hated what the group-mind did to people...more
Terrance Seamus Obradaigh-Gavan
Georgie Carlin grew up with an alcoholic father, a neurotic mother, a brother who served as the punching bag for their dad and tyhe imprimatur of all of new York shaping his childhood..
he was a class clown/ He loved his wife.. His brother Pat reads his bio or auto bio on audible..
Carlin was flawed? Of course.. all comics are flawed..
But thus so are we all...
Comics just get to put their flaws on display...
he credits LSD with opening up his tight ass sensibilities...
he spent his early life att...more
Patrick
This book reminds me of what a classical liberal really think. He also cut down on the liberal ideology, the othrodox ones, and even confessed to doing something conservative like showing his daughter's abusive boyfriend a baseball bat and saying that he's not really a baseball player but use that to persuade certain people to either change or simply don't come back. He is also for other people's abortion, just not his own.

My favorite part, where I actually laughed out loud was when he describe...more
Barney
I saw Carlin perform twice in my life, but became aware of him when I secretly watched Carlin at Carnegie when I was about 10 or 11 while my folks were bowling on a Friday. I didn't understand a lot of what he was saying, but I knew some bad language when I heard it. It was the stuff that my dad and mom yelled at each other all the time. Except this was incredibly funny, not filled with menace and fear.

I still own several of his CD's, my favorite being a double CD set of his AM/FM, Occupation Fo...more
Johntaylor1973
My dad had CARLIN ON CAMPUS, one of his HBO concerts from the 80s. I used to sneak a peek and laugh laugh laugh. I had his entire routine memorized.

I was lucky enough to see him in concert in Raleigh, NC, in the early 90s. I went with my parents, and while it was fun...several parts were PRETTY UNCOMFORTABLE watching with my parents (though I looked over a couple times to see my parents red-faced and laughing along with him!).

I've read Napalm and the sequel. Those were more standup put in print...more
Larry Coleman
It's amazing that a dead George Carlin wrote a better autobiography than a live Steve Martin. There's nothing in here that will make those who don't like and/or don't understand him suddenly get the confrontational and cerebral comedian he was. Nevertheless, it's certainly a solid overview of his life and thought processes and how the interplay of the two eventually molded him into what he became by the time he died: a unique (and desperately needed) social critic whose message was so un-PC that...more
Emily
The late George Carlin taped several interviews with the author Tony Hendra. They intended to write an autobiography (or, as they call it, a "sortabiography" because they think only assholes write autobiographies). Sadly, Mr. Carlin died last year, before the book was published. And after reading this, I'm left thinking that Carlin was taken too soon. He speaks a lot about a Broadway show he planned to write, and more HBO specials. But those dreams never materialized. Some readers might not like...more
Jeanette
Nothing spectacular, but well edited and thus not overlong like some bios. It was interesting to learn the personal history behind the public image. I always enjoyed Carlin's unique perspectives, although some of his humor was admittedly a little raw and crass. I liked the way he refused to conform to trends of "correctness" and often said things the rest of us were thinking but weren't bold enough to say.
Jesse
I was given this as an Xmas gift from a friend and read it all the way through in part for that reason-- the feeling that when given a book as a gift, one should see it through. I hadn't listened to Carlin in years-- since I was teenager at least, if not earlier, but I had a fond recollection of him, a sense that he was a pretty sharp social commentator and a funny guy. Maybe that was true, but it doesn't come through in the book, for the most part. The writing is poor-- in part because it's tra...more
Don Murphy
To say thorough would be an understatement. More like absolute, all-encompassing, complete, comprehensive, detailed, scrupulous, slam-bang, soup to nuts memoir of Carlin. He told his story to a fellow comedian who painstakingly and honestly transcribed it, posthumously. Kinda fitting, I suppose. He goes from his earliest memories of growing up fatherless in New York to his ideas of the his future undertakings. All of this is wrapped around the idea of how life and his mind has shaped his comedy...more
Jeff
This labels itself as a "sortabiography." Carlin met with Hendra many times over the course of 15 years, developing this as a book about his life. Sometimes they would have a specific theme or time period in mind, and sometimes they would just have a conversation with the tape recorder going. And although they never had the time to put it together while Mr. Carlin was alive, Hendra took it upon himself to assemble all the bits and pieces.

And the result is amazing. I have always been a Carlin fan...more
Rena Jane
I always like George Carlin for his rebellious questioning and honest summaries of things in politics and the popular culture that seemed skewed to me.

This book is like him, very honest and blunt about his life and his struggles as a performer, person, artist, son, father, husband and man. I should have realized, listening to his monologues over the years, how much he drank and did drugs, but at the same time, my denial was telling myself that someone so clever couldn't be doing THAT many drugs...more
Drake
What can I say; George Carlin was one of my personal heroes. His wit was unmatched, observations sharp, and he had balls to go places other comedians wouldn’t dare. ‘Last Words’ documents his journey, from his troubled youth, to his troubled adulthood, to his slightly less troubled old age. In his own words, this autobiography describes the ups and downs of his career or lack thereof. Personally, I found it fascinating, although he did come off as a troubled asshole for great portions of his lif...more
Ted Cross
I've long loved Carlin's brand of comedy, especially his later work, but this book was ultimately disappointing to me. Perhaps it was best to not peek behind the curtain to see just how screwed up he was in so many ways, especially drugs. There are moments that are fun reading in here, but mostly it just made me sad.
John Milliken
Absolutely and thoroughly enjoyed Last Words - funny, irreverent, at times tough to navigate through the pain and then enter the calm acknowledgement of 'The Other' as a mirror reflection of ourselves, a living component of 'The One'.
The book reflects in word form the honor I experience with people open to reciprocation.

A short story. I volunteer for Cycle Oregon. Last September at the start of the 25th Cycle Oregon Week long ride, the Modoc chairman of the Klamath Tribal Council welcomed all...more
Craig
I'm a huge fan of Carlin, but this book was a little disappointing for me. I think George was a one trick pony, his acting roles in sitcoms and movies were terrible, this book, as well as Napalm & Silly Putty were simply poorly written boring books.

The following was copied from an Amazon review that I agree with: The interesting parts of "Last Words" are his trying and finally succeeding to find his own authentic self in comedy. The dull parts were his growing up, drunk father and supportive...more
Markii
Very open and revealing auto-biography of Carlin's life for good or bad. The bad: drug addictions and other personal and professional failures. The good: the evolution of finding his unique and confrontational opinions communicated via words that have been worked over like a proven Katana blade, and administered to huge crowds and TV. It's beautiful to hear him describe how humor can make one really laugh out loud- rendering them into their truest self for those moments- and in those moments you...more
Anna
About what I expected. I could have used a little less about his creative process and a little more life events and anecdotes. I always love to hear what artists think of others in their field, and while he mentions contemporaries like Richard Pryor and Steve Martin, and "new kids" like Sam Kinison and John Stewart, I would have liked to have heard more. It's a shame that he never got to put together his broadway show, "New York Boy". I know everyone and their brother is putting out shows, (much...more
Duncan Mandel

One of the undisputed heavyweight champions of American comedy, with nineteen appearances on the Johnny Carson show, thirteen HBO specials, five Grammys, and a critical Supreme Court battle over censorship under his belt, George Carlin saw it all throughout his extraordinary fifty-year career, and made fun of most of it. Last Words is the story of the man behind some of the most seminal comedy of the last half century, blending his signature acerbic humor with never-before-told stories from his

...more
John Turner
To me, one phrase describes this book: "The man behind the madness."

It was fascinating to examine, in depth, the life and philosophies of whom I consider the greatest standup comedian in history. Not only do I understand more about the workings of his self-described "twisted mind," I now realize just why he made some of the choices he did, both in his career and in his standup act.

And one paragraph in this book sums up Carlin's existence--and in a way, mine too:

When you're in front of an audienc
...more
Daniel DeLappe
Great book about the Greatest first amendment warrior. Even better at calling BS what it is Bullshit. This book also humanizes Mr Carlin. Even the greats spend a lot of their timing screwing up their lives. When Mister Carlin the the earth got to be a dumber and less funny place RIP fellow recovering Catholic.
Laura
this is a great book and I enjoyed reading it. George Carlin was one of the best comedians that we ever had, nobody these days can compare to him. I did not like the last two chapters, it kinda got weird, but for the most part, a great read.
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22782
George Denis Patrick Carlin was a Grammy-winning American stand-up comedian, actor, author, and philosopher.

Carlin was especially noted for his political and black humor and his observations on language, psychology, and religion along with many taboo subjects. Carlin and his "Seven Dirty Words" comedy routine were central to the 1978 U.S. Supreme Court case F.C.C. v. Pacifica Foundation, in which...more
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“But when you're in front of an audience and you make them laugh at a new idea, you're guiding the whole being for the moment. No one is ever more him/herself 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.” 121 likes
“Abraham Maslow said that the fully realized person transcends his local group and identifies with the species. But the election of Ronald Reagan might've been the beginning of my giving up on my species. Because it was absurd. To this day it remains absurd. More than absurd, it was frightening: it represented the rise to supremacy of darkness, the ascendancy of ignorance.” 31 likes
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