46. Find where the line is and deliberately cross it
George Carlin didn’t quite say this, but he said something close
“I think it’s the duty of every comedian to find where the line is and deliberately cross it.”
We can confirm that Carlin had said something close to this. The one that comes to mind was from the documentary The Aristocrats (2005), where he says, “I do like finding out where the line is drawn, deliberately crossing it, bringing some of them with me across the line, and having them be happy that I did.” Also from his 1999 interview with The Onion A.V. Club, “I think of shock as kind of an uptown form of surprise. Comedy is filled with surprise, so when I cross a line … I like to find out where the line might be and then cross it deliberately, and then make the audience happy about crossing the line with me.”
It’s possible that he did say the actual quotation that’s been floating around, word-for-word, but to date I haven’t found where he said it. So it’s more likely a case of somebody having tried to quote from memory and messing it up.