Brain Droppings by George Carlin
Best for: Fans of Carlin’s clever and confrontational style of comedy.
In a nutshell: Comedian Carlin shares jokes, observations, and wordplay.
“You could hear a pin drop. Well, you can’t hear a pin drop. Not even a bowling pin. When a pin is dropping, it’s just floating through the air. There’s very little noise. You might be able to hear a pin land but certainly not drop.”
“I hear ya.” “Wonderful. And are you picking me up visually as well?”
Why I chose it: I’m trying to read before bed (instead of staring at my phone) but didn’t want anything too heavy. Thought I’d revisit what I used to describe as one of my favorite humor books.
Some of you may know Carlin as the first host of Saturday Night Live. Others may know him from his famous ‘Seven Words You Can’t Say on TV” sketch. My guess is most of you know him as Rufus, the amazing supporting character from the Bill and Ted films, who will be sorely missed when Bill and Ted Face the Music is released this summer. I think of him as the author of this book, because I’ve read it (part or in full) probably a dozen times.
This isn’t a comedic memoir, or even a collection of humorous stories or essays. There are some slightly longer bits (say, 2-3 pages), but mostly it is a paragraph joke, or a one-liner, or even a collection of two-word phrases that Carlin thinks is interesting. Some of it makes me laugh out loud; some of it makes me think. A lot of it revolves around wordplay and the discussion of what certain words and phrases actually mean, if one really thinks about it.
There are definitely parts of this book that make me cringe. Carlin has a strong aversion to the idea of ‘political correctness,’ and claims to not be on any ‘side’ politically. This is evident, for example, in his justification for use of the word r*tard. However, he has a strong sense of justice, and recognized how poorly people of color (though he would hate using that term) and women are treated in society. I think he’s who people like Ricky Gervais think they are (edgy, cool, astutely observant) but they couldn’t hold a candle to him. They’re not in the same world as him.
Keep it / Pass to a Friend / Donate it / Toss it: