Synopses & Reviews
As one of America's preeminent comedic voices, 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 acer-bic humor with never-before-told stories from his own life.
In 1993 George Carlin asked his friend and bestselling author Tony Hendra to help him write his autobiography. For almost fifteen years, in scores of conversations, many of them recorded, the two discussed Carlin's life, times, and evolution as a major artist. When Carlin died at age seventy-one in June 2008 with the book still unpublished, Hendra set out to assemble it as his friend would have wanted. Last Words is the result, the rollicking, wrenching story of Carlin's life from birth -- literally -- to his final years, as well as a parting gift of laughter to the world of comedy he helped create.
George Carlin's journey to stardom began in the rough-and-tumble neighborhood of New York's Upper West Side in the 1940s, where class and culture wars planted the seeds for some of his best known material, including the notorious "Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television." His early conflicts, his long struggle with substance abuse, his turbulent relationships with his family, and his triumphs over catastrophic setbacks all fueled the unique comedic worldview he brought to the stage. From the heights of stardom to the low points few knew about, Last Words is told with the same razor-sharp honesty that made Carlin one of the best loved comedians in American history.
"For more than a decade before his 2008 death, groundbreaking stand-up comedian Carlin had been working on his autobiography with writer Hendra (Father Joe), who finished it by distilling hours of conversations with the irascible social commentator. Armed with an eye for detail and a seemingly photographic memory, Carlin retraces his life in full, chronicling petty crimes and stolen kisses, escalating drug problems and the death of his wife with unflinching honesty. He applies that same precision to the mechanics of comedy, giving would-be comics a veteran's insight into the dynamics of crowds, the structure of a performance and the importance (or unimportance) of the social and political landscape. Tracing his evolution as a comedian from the first time he made his mother laugh to performing for an empty room in Baltimore to the series of HBO specials he made over the course of his career, Carlin peppers his narrative with the routines that have made him famous (though this is no gagfest, a la Brain Droppings, When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops?, etc.). Throughout, Carlin comes off as a smart, humble everyman with a strong distaste for hypocrisy in all its forms; fans may be surprised at his discipline and drive, and anyone interested in comedy should find this autobio as illuminating as it is funny." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
, a posthumous autobiography from George Carlin, is a jazzy, inward-looking piece of work...as a chronicler of the working of his own mind, Carlin is terrific."
-- The New York Times
"...what "Last Words" ultimately reveals is how Carlin became a political protester, slam poet, cynic, polemicist and performance artist whose messages were delivered under the veneer of humor."
"The book is at turns biting and touching, and often both, which is what you would expect from a man for whom the sacred was profane and the profane, sacred."
"...frank and insightful..."
"This is not a collection of setups and punch lines, but a candid, fearless accounting of his life and art...Last Words
shows a comic master at the height of his storytelling powers and with no limit to what he had left to say."
"For comedy fans, this book is vital. It's easily worth its weight in gold for the biting observations on showbiz and its personalities."
--San Francisco Chronicle
] sounds as if he is still with us, rested and ready to ridicule the latest cultural hypocrisies."
--The Washington Times
"Seven particular words are associated with the late comedian George Carlin, and sentimental is not one of them. But that's the surprising portrait that emerges from Last Words
The autobiography that Carlin had nearly completed before he died, "Last Words" chronicles the late comedian's illustrious career. Includes commentary from Carlin's fellow comedian Hendra.
About the Author
Born in New York City in 1937, George Dennis Patrick Carlin was one of the greatest and most influential stand-up comedians of all time. He appeared on “The Tonight Show” more than 130 times, starred in an unprecedented 14 HBO Specials, hosted the first “Saturday Night Live” and penned three New York Times bestselling books. Of the 23 solo albums recorded by Mr. Carlin, 11 were Grammy nominated and he took home the coveted statue five times including a 2001 Grammy win for Best Spoken Comedy Album for his reading of his best seller Brain Droppings. In 2002, Carlin was awarded the “Freedom of Speech Award” by the First Amendment Center in cooperation with the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, Colorado, and he was the named 11th recipient of The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in June of 2008. George Carlin passed away at age 71 on June 22, 2008 in Santa Monica, California.
Tony Hendra was recently described by The Independent of London as “one of the most brilliant comic talents of the post-war period” He began his comedic career with Graham Chapman of Monty Python, appeared six times on the Ed Sullivan Show, was one of the original editors of National Lampoon, edited the classic parody Not The New York Times, starred in This Is Spinal Tap, and co-created and co-produced the long-running British satirical series Spitting Image for which he was nominated for a British Academy Award. He has written or edited dozens of books, most of them satirical, with the exception of two New York Times bestsellers: Brotherhood (2001) and Father Joe (2004). He is a senior member of the Board of the nation-wide story-telling community, The Moth.