RIP, George Carlin

By now it’s old news that comedian George Carlin—best known for his irreverent and often profane stand-up routines—has died.

All over the web, tributes to Carlin are popping up; one person after another wants to recount what Carlin’s comedy meant to him or her. It’s mainly his more risque work that’s being discussed, too. But for those of us who are parents to little ones, it’s a little bit different*.

To us, George Carlin is better known as the voice behind Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends. When I heard the new yesterday, I went straight to YouTube for the first episode my son ever saw. It’s unremarkable, I suppose, except that I had never before seen him stop everything and become utterly transfixed by the television, before. And really, how can you not enjoy Carlin earnestly reporting that Thomas was “a cheeky little engine?”

When I was nosing around for that, I also found this little tribute:

Yes, most people will remember him as the guy who talked about the seven words you couldn’t say on television, but I’ll mostly remember him as the voice of Thomas. And of Fillmore from Cars, too, I guess. But mostly Thomas.

*Sure, I went and saw George Carlin perform live, once, back when I was in college. I had really good tickets, too—my friend and I sat in the fifth row while he ran through a seemingly endless string of ranting about various things. What I remember most about that show is that he did a routine about names that no one uses for their kids these days, and he went from “Dorcas” and “Hortense” and the like—oh, we were laughing along with everyone else—down to my name. Yes, I once paid good money to listen to George Carlin heckle my name.

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