Quotes from Carlin’s Albums and Comedy Specials
Here are some popularly shared George Carlin quotations that he actually said, directly sourced and quoted from one of his albums or HBO comedy specials. In some examples, the album track title or DVD chapter track title is also supplied.
From FM & AM (1972)
Tonight’s forecast: DARK. Continued mostly dark tonight, turning to widely scattered light in the morning
Track: “The 11 O’Clock News”
Carlin did quite a few variations on the Al Sleet routine over the years, including the track from this album, the HBO special On Location: George Carlin at USC (1977), his album Take-Offs and Put-Ons (1967), and a number of television appearances in the 1960s. For a long time I heard this as “wildly” and not “widely”, and some sites quote it as “wildly”. Listening more closely to this particular track though, my guess is that it’s “widely”.
From Class Clown (1972)
Oh, beautiful, for smoggy skies and insecticided grain. For stripped-mined mountains majesty, above the asphalt plain. America, America, man sheds his waste on thee. And hides the pines with billboard signs, from sea to oily sea.
From the track “Muhammad Ali / America The Beautiful”
I’ve had a number of people write in to ask me if this was authentic, and it’s understandable why. Carlin isn’t really known for song parodies. This line is, however, authentic. Carlin sings this on the album Class Clown (1972). It also shows up on the HBO special George Carlin: 40 Years of Comedy (1997).
There’s no ‘now’. Everything is the near future or the recent past!
From the bit “What Time is It?”
A variation on this also showed up later in Napalm & Silly Putty (2001), p164-165 (“Everything we think of as “now” is either the very recent past or the very near future. There’s no present. “Welcome to the present.” ZOOM! Gone again!”)
From On The Road (1977)
The Food and Drug Administration has announced that saliva causes stomach cancer. However, only when swallowed in small amounts over a long period of time.
From the track “Headlines”
For some reason, this gets misquoted often on the Internet as “Death is caused by swallowing small amounts of saliva over a long period of time.”, which isn’t as funny.
No, I would never want to be a member of any group whose symbol is a man nailed onto two pieces of wood. Especially if it’s me!
Carlin as Jesus in “Interview with Jesus”
So I say live and let live. That’s my motto, “Live and let live”! Anyone who can’t go along with that, take him outside and shoot the motherfucker.
Have you ever noticed when you’re driving that anybody who’s driving slower than you is an idiot? And anyone driving faster than you is a maniac!
A personal note: this was the very, very first joke I ever heard from Carlin. It showed up on Nickelodeon’s “Turkey TV” when I was a kid.
Think for a moment about the concept of the flame thrower. OK? The flame thrower. Because we have them. Well, we don’t have them, the Army has them. That’s right, we don’t have any flame throwers! I’d say we’re fucked if we have to go up against the Army, wouldn’t you? But we have flame throwers! And what this indicates to me, it means that at some point, some person said to himself, ‘Gee, I sure would like to set those people on fire over there. But I’m way too far away to get the job done. If only I had something that would throw flame on them.
A differently-worded version of this routine also shows up in Napalm & Silly Putty (2001), p81
May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house.
Think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of them are stupider than that.
From “Some People Are Stupid”
Israeli murderers are called Commandos. Arab Commandos are called terrorists. Contra killers are called Freedom fighters. Well, if crime fighters fight crime and firefighters fight fire, what do freedom fighters fight? They never mention that part of it to us, do they?
Like on the airlines, they say they want to ‘pre-board’. Well, what the hell is ‘pre board’? What does that mean? To get on before you get on?
Government wants to control information and control language because that’s the way you control thought. And basically that’s the game they’re in. Same with religion. Religion is nothing but mind control. Religion is just trying to control your mind, control your thoughts, so they’re going to tell you some things you shouldn’t say because they’re “sins”. And besides telling you things you shouldn’t say, religion’s going to suggest to you some things you ought to be saying. Here’s something you ought to say first thing when you wake up in the morning. Here’s something you ought to say just before you go to sleep at night. Here’s something we always say on the third Wednesday in April after the first full moon in Spring at 4:00 when the bells ring.
“Every person you look at, you can see the universe in their eyes, if you’re really looking” [56:24]
Religion easily has the greatest bullshit story ever told. Think about it. Religion has actually CONVINCED people that there’s an invisible man – living in the sky – who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do! And if you do any of these ten things he has a special place, full fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send YOU – to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry, forever and ever ‘til the end of time. – But he loves you!. He loves you. He loves you and he needs money! He always needs money! He’s all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise, [yet] somehow just can’t handle money. Religion takes in billions of dollars, they pay no taxes, and they always need a little more. Now, you talk about a good bullshit story: holy shit!
From the track “Religion”
A later variation of this appears in Napalm & Silly Putty (2001), p28
Richard Dawkins used this quotation (in bold face) to preface chapter 8 of his book “The God Delusion”.
I’ve often thought people treat God rather rudely, don’t you? [Asking for] trillions and trillions of prayers every day. Asking and pleading and begging for favors. Do this, gimme that, I need a new car, I want a better job. And most of this praying takes place on Sunday: his day off. It’s not nice. And it’s no way to treat a friend.
Some images with this quote, along with additional paragraphs of the same “There Is No God” routine, have been making the rounds
Sooner or later the people in this country are going to realize: the government does not give a fuck about them. The government doesn’t care about you, or your children, or your rights, or your welfare, or your safety. It simply doesn’t give a fuck about you. It’s interested in its own power. That’s the only thing keeping it and expanding it wherever possible.
[It’s] not important to get children to read. Children who wanna read are gonna read. Kids who want to learn to read going to learn to read. Much more important to teach children to QUESTION what they read. Children should be taught to question everything. To question everything they read, everything they hear. Children should be taught to question authority. Parents never teach their children to question authority because parents are authority figures themselves, and they don’t want to undermine their own bullshit inside the household. So they stroke the kid and the kid strokes them, and they all stroke each other, all grow up all fucked up, and they come to shows like this.
As mentioned on the bogus quotations section of this site, this quotation is often seen being misworded. Which is ironic, given the topic.
America prays for God to destroy our enemies. Our enemies pray for God to destroy us. Somebody is gonna be disappointed. Somebody is wasting their fucking time. Could it be everyone?