George Carlin shows us the power of humor to overcome complacency, shift our thinking and change the world, as we can see from the quotes below.

George Carlin was an American comedian, actor, and author. His humor covered subjects including politics, psychology, and religion. He didn’t shy away from difficult subjects and used the power of humor to change the way we think and influence society. Maybe that’s why people love George Carlin’s quotes so much.

Carlin’s achievements

Carlin is widely regarded to have been as one of the most influential comedians of the late 20th and early 21st Centuries. He made fourteen stand-up comedy specials for HBO and also appeared in many films and TV shows. He was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1987.

In 2004, he was listed in second place on the Comedy Central list of Top 10 Comedians of US Audiences. In 2008, he posthumously received the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.

Then in 2017, Rolling Stone magazine placed him second on its list of the 50 best stand-up comics of all time.

Carlin’s views

Carlin was never afraid to say what he thought. He was critical of politics and the social systems, especially those of the U.S. Many of his quotes are strongly critical of institutions and systems such as the education system, the political system, and capitalism.

His quotes were designed to provoke controversy. However, beneath his biting wit lay a deep indignation at the injustices in the world. He used his comedy to draw attention to those injustices. Whatever you may think of Carlin, and whether you agree with his ideas or not, I’m sure his quotes will make you think.

Our top seven George Carlin quotes

Inside every cynical person there is a disappointed idealist

This quote seems to sum up Carlin well and he appears to be speaking from personal experience! His words do often come across as cynical, however, we can catch glimpses of the idealist behind these words who simply wants to see a fairer, more just world for all.

Don’t just teach your children to read… Teach your children to question what they read, teach them to question everything.

Carlin himself certainly questioned everything. He challenged assumptions and drew attention to injustices. This quote suggests that he saw the education system as failing. It reminds us never to take things at face value, to always thinking critically and challenge our assumptions and to teach our children to do the same.

There’s a humorous side to every situation. The challenge is to find it.

There’s a humorous side to every situation. The challenge is to find it.

Despite being cynical and sarcastic at times, George Carlin did have an optimistic side. This quote has helped me in some of my darkest moments. Sometimes it’s hard to see the funny side of things in our times of trouble. But if we can, it can help lighten our burdens. After all, they do say that laughter is the best medicine.

Trying to be happy by accumulating possessions is like trying to satisfy hunger by taping sandwiches all over your body.

I don’t think I have ever heard materialism described so perfectly! It exactly sums up what is so wrong with trying to get happy by buying stuff. Having more things on the outside is rarely the answer to filling a whole on the inside.

We’ve learned how to make a living but not a life. We’ve added years to life, not life to years.

This quote has a strange poignancy to it. In a world where most of us have so much, why are we still unhappy? We have made many medical advances that add years to our lives.

However, we seem to have been less concerned to add value to the years we have. Being caught up in worldly values certainly doesn’t help make a meaningful life. Carlin makes me think about what really makes life worthwhile.

Some people see things that are, and ask, why? Some people dream of things that never were, and ask, why not? Some people have to go to work and don’t have time for all that.

This quote reminds me that action without imagination rarely achieves anything new. I will try to remember even on my busiest days to make time to ask ‘why’ and even more importantly ‘why not’.

And finally,

I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman, “Where’s the self-help section?” She said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose.

Closing thoughts

George Carlin said so many wonderful things and made so many great jokes, as we can see from the above quotes. Many are even more cynical and irreverent than these and some use language I wouldn’t like to repeat here. But as well as being provocative and sarcastic, Carlin’s words are heartfelt and based on a desire for justice and fairness. Plus they can uplift us and make us laugh. What more could we ask for?

Let us know your favorite quotes by George Carlin in the comments.

Image credit: Bonnie from Kendall Park, NJ, USA – Carlin performing one of his last shows in 2008

Kirstie Pursey

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Trying to be happy by accumulating possessions is like trying to satisfy hunger by taping sandwiches all over your body

  2. Avatar

    Carlin matured to comedy excellence staus. His wit and reflections were funny and poignant. Very sad to see him pass. RIP.

  3. Avatar
    Greg D

    Thanks for sharing. I love his MODERN MAN poem. it is funny, clever, thought provoking and smart.
    George Carlin had no one similar to him except a Bill Hicks. Is there any others similar to George or Bill?

  4. Avatar

    Not only these aren’t cynical, they aren’t funny either.

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