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Carlin's humor takes on new meaning

Some years ago, comedian George Carlin gave his audience at New York's Beacon Theater a hefty slice of his opinion on airport security and terrorism, in his trademark provocative style.

Carlin's brash remarks and routine cursing have earned him a badge as one of the world's most unique and entertaining comics. His complaints about American culture administer a hysterical version of the truth to his audience and promote him the soothsayer's status. He knows that the sharp edge of truth can split sides better than most jokes. But looking back on his act in the past makes one wonder if what he said is still funny after Sept. 11.

In February of 1999, during a live show that would make it to compact disc that same year through the Atlantic Recording Company, Carlin told jokes about terrorists and flight attendants that are almost difficult to repeat after Sept. 11. So if you have sensitive eyes or were ever offended by George Carlin, caution is advised for the remainder of this article.

"There's too much security at the airports," Carlin began his segment at the Beacon Theater. "I'm tired of some guy with a double-digit I.Q. and a triple-digit income rooting around in my bag ... and never finding anything . There are no bombs." The audience laughed, even after New York's JFK airport had been the startinpoint of two major jetliner crashes in the previous three years.

But the New York audience, it seems, can't keep the laughs from rolling when Carlin ridicules "the three big (security) questions," passing them off as stunts to appease nervous, overly-frightened Americans.

"Airport security is a stupid idea, it's a waste of money and it's only there for one reason - to make white people feel safe," Carlin said. "It's the illusion of safety to placate the middle class because the authorities know they can't make an airplane completely safe."

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While he joked about saying yes to all three questions, I laughed remembering the time I actually said yes to one of the questions at an airport on Long Island and discovered that the airport personnel didn't know what to do. I asked them if that was the first time someone had responded positively and they confirmed that it was.

After the three questions and an unnecessary run-around on the ground, Carlin joked, the flight attendants bring guests a knife and fork, in case they forgot their weapons at home. But flights should never be completely safe, according to Carlin, because Americans need a little "dangerous fun" in their lives.

Finally, the most striking part of the act that is also the hardest to swallow -- when Carlin predicts a future frenzied by terrorism.

"Certain groups - Muslim, Christian, Jewish fundamentalists and just plain guys from Montana - are gonna continue to make life in this country very interesting for a long, long time," he said. "That's the reality - angry men in combat fatigues talkin' to God on a two-way radio, and muttering incoherent slogans about freedom are eventually gonna provide us with a great deal of entertainment, especially after your stupid fucking economy collapses all around you and the terrorists come out of the woodwork."

Entertainment? That's a term that deserves some re-examination now. And is this two-year-old archive still funny? As much of a comedic master as Carlin is, even the events of Sept. 11 will likely never dampen its fiery humor. The name of the collection is George Carlin You Are All Diseased and it's worth listening to, now more than ever.

And if you're like me, wondering if he's changed his act, he's coming to Casino Hollywood at the end of December. For more information, call 897-2173.

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