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Laugh without limits

February 24, 2003|by TAMELA BAKER

tammyb@herald-mail.com

As far as George Carlin is concerned, comedy has no limits.

No language too coarse, no subject - whether it's suicide, Christians, guys named Todd or terminal diseases - too sensitive.

Carlin filled two shows at The Maryland Theatre with fans and his trademark profane and irreverent humor Friday night. Fellow comedian Dennis Blair set the tone for the evening with his opening remarks, thanking the audience for showing up despite the weather and the Code Orange terror alert.

"You know what Code Orange means don't you? That means when you see anything unusual or alarming, you report it," Blair said. "So I called them up and told 'em about that Michael Jackson special."

Carlin took the stage a little later and talked a blue streak.

One of his milder quips came early in the act and reflected one of the biggest news stories of the day: "I just wanted to announce that tonight we're going without the pyrotechnics."

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In Carlin's world, even traffic accidents are funny.

"My favorite accident involves two buses and a chicken truck hit by a circus train in front of a flea market."

And he lamented suicide.

"I don't think a writer could ever commit suicide," Carlin said. "A writer would spend too much time on the note he'd finally end up with a book proposal and have a reason to live."

Carlin confessed that he complains a lot - and one of his favorite peeves Friday was American society in general.

"This country's full of nitwits and they all vote."

But for all the profanity and bathroom humor, Carlin did make a serious, if subtle, point. During a bit about America's space program, he asked the audience to imagine humans participating in some intergalactic conference with the inhabitants of other worlds - and having to explain a young mother tossing her baby into a Dumpster. Or domestic violence.

Jason Martin of Hagerstown described himself as a Carlin fan - books, movies, the short-lived George Carlin show, Martin knew them all. And he loved the show.

"I thought the whole thing was well done," he said, explaining that he couldn't pick a favorite part.

But Colleen Baiata, also of Hagerstown, could.

"I liked the part about the bumper stickers," she said.

She referred to Carlin's shot at those "bumper stickers that say 'We are the proud parents of an honor student at ' What kind of empty people have to validate themselves through the achievements of their children? I'd like to see a bumper sticker that says, 'We are the proud parents of a child whose self-esteem is sufficient that he doesn't need us to brag about his minor achievements on the back of our car.'"

Diane Morgan of Williamsport liked the political humor, and Dick Webber, also of Williamsport, liked Carlin's general complaints.

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