When I was 14, my mother arranged for me to meet one of only two idols I had as a boy (the other being Harlan Ellison - hmmm, I wonder where my curmudgeonly nature came from). Mom was in the music business and through a few connections she got me backstage for a quick handshake with the man who made me laugh. After the handshake and few polite words from him my mother started easing me out the dressing room door, but this man that I admired, my humor hero, said, "No, I have time. We should sit down and talk." So we talked, for an hour or so, about what was funny and who made him laugh and why. It was a great thing for him to do for a 14 year old kid. When I finally left, floating on cloud nine, he promised to send me an autographed photo. When I got it the next week I hung it on my wall with pride.
By the time my teens ended the photo had been lost. Though I still remembered the meeting fondly, I had moved on to different idols (I preferred a riskier, more confrontational, Richard Pryor). He could occasionally still make me laugh, but, like most things from youth, he had been discarded. Over the years I might catch something of his, but I watched with something more akin to nostalgia than giddiness. Nonetheless, his influence on my view of the world at that critical age, especially regarding the absurdity of authority, was undeniable.
Thank you, George Carlin, for your time and for the laughs. I will always remember you and our chat. RIP.
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