George Carlin‘s iconoclasm, his envelope-pushing and pointed politics helped pave the way for comedians from Richard Pryor to Cheech and Chong to Eddie Murphy to Chris Rock to Bill Maher. “I like to find out where the line might be drawn and then deliberately cross it,” he said during an NPR interview in 2000. “There are an awful lot of taboos. … I just enjoy squashing them and stepping on them and peeling them apart and trying to expose them to people. For some reason, it makes me happy.”
“There are 400,000 words in the English language, and there are seven of them you can’t say on television,” Carlin would say in a routine in the ’70s. “What a ratio that is: 399,993 to seven. They must really be bad.” And he famously proceeded to say them. Police in Milwaukee arrested him for disturbing the peace after a performance in 1972. He was arrested several more times after that, but he refused to drop the bit from his act.
“It had a wonderfully rhythmic — the reading of those seven words, the way they were placed together — had a magnificent kind of a jazz feeling,” Carlin said about the routine on WHYY’s Fresh Air. “And so I knew I had done something that was making an important point about the hypocrisy of all of this.” In the decades since Carlin first cast his lot with the counterculture, he has come to be nearly universally regarded as one of America’s greatest comedians. Just a few days ago, The Kennedy Center announced that Carlin would be awarded this year’s Mark Twain Prize, the nation’s highest honor for humorists.
Also, music critic Ken Tucker reviews soul singer Al Green‘s new album, Lay It Down. The album was produced by hip-hop artists Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson of the Roots and James Poyser, who are credited with giving Green’s classic voice a fresh sound.
The Democratic primary revealed interesting divisions between feminists of different generations. With that in mind, we take a look at the state of feminism today with LINDA HIRSHMAN, a professor of Philosophy and Women’s Studies at Brandeis University and COURTNEY MARTIN, who writes a column on politics and gender for the American Prospect Online and for the blog Feministing. Listen to this show via Real Audio | mp3
It’s June, the time for weddings and wedding anniversaries. We spend the hour discussing what makes a good marriage with RITA DeMARIA, Director of Relationship Education at Council for Relationships. DeMaria is author of the “7 Stages of Marriage: Laughter, Intimacy and Passion Today, Tomorrow, Forever.” Listen to this show via Real Audio | mp3
What are the consequences when humans start playing with life? The human imagination has always dreamed up fantastic creatures, but now biotechnology is making it easier and easier for us to actually create forms of life that have never existed before. In this hour, Radio Lab looks at the uneasy marriage between biology and engineering, and asks what counts as “natural?”10 PM tonight on WHHY
AL GREEN: Tired Of Being Alone