What Did George Carlin Know About 9/11?
On Sept. 10, 2001, George Carlin, the greatest political comic in history if measured only by stand-up specials, recorded a bracing hour of social commentary for his new HBO special. The next day, he shelved it. It wasn’t only the title, “I Kinda Like It When a Lotta People Die,” that seemed in bad taste after nearly 3,000 people were killed a day later in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Mr. Carlin also told a joke about a fart so potent it blew up an airplane. “You know who gets blamed? Osama bin Laden,” Mr. Carlin joked. “The F.B.I. is looking for explosives. They should be looking for minute traces of rice and bok choy.” If timing is everything, Mr. Carlin had nothing.
Fifteen years later, his lost special is finally being released.SNIP
This operatic yarn is less argumentative than most of Mr. Carlin’s bits, more open to interpretation. One way to see it, though, is as a sendup of the terrorist mind-set that led to the attack on the World Trade Center and other sites that day, a biting take on an extremist view that imagines that a twisted form of deliverance will come from violence and hate. Seen from a certain angle, a story once too provocative to release might be the perfect example of comedy in the post-Sept. 11 world.