A Rhetorician’s Short Eulogy to the Funniest Comedian Ever

I hope readers of this blog will forgive me for a small apostasy in my appreciation for George Carlin who has died. Carlin was more liberal than I would wish, but Lord was he brilliant.

I have been a professor of rhetorical studies for over 35 years, and I always tell my classes that we in rhetoric have our favorite comedians, and, parenthetically, we also have our favorite impressionists who comprise in my case Darryl Hammond generally and specifically Dana Carvey’s singularly hilarious impersonation of Ross Perot, the best and most brilliant such impersonation I have ever seen or heard.

Back to George Carlin…his sense of redundancy, oxymoron, craziness in our language and all things linguistically persuasive was simply uniquely perspicacious and simply hilarious. As Tim Russert was the best political interviewer of our time (see earlier blog), Carlin had the best comedic mind.

His dominance of the comedic media was unsurpassed, ranging from albums to television to radio to books to live appearances to blogging – he was everywhere and everywhere brilliant. His Brain Droppings is just one of his wonderful works, and his classic contrasting of baseball and football will never leave anyone who has heard it.

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(I used to have some favorite paragraphs of Carlin’s that I would read to my Persuasion class that I shall search for and add if/when I find them.)

His loss will be mourned by all of those who love to have fun with rhetoric.

Richard E. Vatz, Ph.D.
Professor of Rhetoric and Communication
Towson University

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