Jun 23

Public Speaking: A lesson from the late George Carlin

American comedian George Carlin died this past Sunday aged 71. I believe that he was one of the pioneers of comedy in the last century, so much so that I included him on my list of The 33 Most Influential Comedians recently. Carlin saw the role of the stand-up as social critic, rebel and commentator. Comedians are one the few artists who are allowed to tell the truth as they see it. So long as they’re funny.

He was a top drawing comedian for more than 40 years and didn’t really have a lot of help from T.V. or films. He attacked the hypocrisy of middle America, the English language as well as observations on everyday life. How can a film appearance like Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure capture his caustic outlook?

For fellow speakers who read this blog and who are interested in using humour in their talks George Carlin is a name they should bear in mind. Not because they need to be as cutting and angry as he was, far from it. But what Carlin did achieve was honesty. An honesty with the material that he delivered. Some comedians would make jokes about being single whilst being happily married.

Not Carlin. He always told the truth about himself and his view of the world to his audience and I believe that honesty is something that we should all strive for.