Thursday, March 24, 2011

Continued dark until morning

Budding Ventriloquist: Influences
Chapter 3: George Carlin

See the end of this post the full introduction ("The Rationale") to this series.  I live in mortal fear that a new reader, or just a web surfer, or a site stumbler, or a ventriloquist, or a ventriloquist wannabe (and hey, who isn't?) might be reading this and think, "What the hey?" because there's some incongruity between a series paying tribute to great moments in comedy and a Budding Ventriloquist.

Mortal fear. Absolute dread. Endless fret.

So humor me. Enjoy the post, but know why it's important journalism with conceptual integrity, too.

Huge conceptual integrity is a hallmark of Budding Ventriloquist. Ask anybody.
Before George Carlin defined seven as the number of words you could not say on television, he was already really funny. His routine "Al Sleet, the Hippie-Dippie Weatherman" may very well be the first comedy routine I memorized. It's a particular treat to see it performed in this clip from the black and white days of The Tonight Show.

And perhaps not exactly the second, but 5 or so routines down the line was his poem about his long hair, and his swallow.  Yes, his swallow.

I can't be more delighted that this exact performance I recorded on a cassette tape the first time it was shown, and here it is with the video too. And I know it is because I memorized the little asides he made with the exact inflections!

And yes, I tried but never really captured my own swallow the way he did.

I can't possibly add any important commentary to George Carlin's legacy, other than to say had he not become legendary for breaking so many barriers, he still was destined to be memorable.
In 1972, George Carlin was arrested by Milwaukee police for breaking obscenity laws by saying the 7 words during a performance at Summerfest. As a Milwaukeean, I was so proud.  Milwaukee, my home town, was on the national news. 

Walter Cronkite said our city's name on the CBS Evening News! It was like we were chosen! 

I always wondered of Carlin knew that so many of us felt that way, and how much we thanked him for it.
Long before there was high speed internet...

Long before there was digital recordings...

Long before there was compact disks...

There was the cassette recorder. And there was a process of pointing a microphone in the open air at the television's speaker and hitting record. And when you played back the recording of George Carlin or any other great comedian at their prime on the Tonight Show, you also captured your own laughter.

That made the recording uniquely your own.  I miss that.

The Rationale

I hear it all the time. The question the world wants answered. And it usually comes out this way:
"Dan. Can I call you 'Dan'? Dan, how did your mind get this way? Where did the buds of the Budding Ventriloquist come from?" 
Well, that's actually two questions. Three questions if you count the ingratiating 'Can I call you Dan' thing.

There's no one answer, of course. But sorting out the riddle leads to this series,Budding Ventriloquist: Influences. Intentionally, there's no particular order to who goes first, no attempt to be linear. A sense of humor that developed in a straight forward way is not a sense of humor at all. That is just not how it works. But , trying to figure it out is helping me get my writing jones back, and that's a good thing.


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