The joke's on us - Tucson Local Media: Sports

The joke's on us

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Posted: Tuesday, June 24, 2008 11:00 pm

On fourth down, crouched in shotgun formation, most every pint-sized sandlot quarterback shapeshifts into Peyton Manning or Brett Favre for a minute. It’s a rite of passage.

Some of us made the same transformation during lunchtime — only with our comedy routines. Right around fifth or sixth grade, I’d morph into various stand-ups, like George Carlin, for kicks.

Sure, it’s plagiarism. But I didn’t know. So it doesn’t count.

My initial debt pays out to a babysitter’s boyfriend, who sauntered from the bushes after my parents’ car sped away one evening, probably in anticipation of Blue Oyster Cult’s summer resurrection.

The amorous acne casualty stubbed out a cigarette, jammed the cable converter between channels and Poof! We had HBO. I got my first taste of some skinny uncle-type working Carnegie Hall with a rubber face and vocabulary to boil aluminum.

Young minds are ductile as gold. When that first shot of Carlin radiated across my sixth-grade enclave, it morphed recess like nothing would until Michael Jordan hit the scene, fervently spurring us to nail jumpers, tongues extended.

For schoolyard comics, reciting Carlin’s shtick far from administrative earshot marked a sacrament roughly equal to passing the cinnamon schnapps while walking to high school football games.

Both were just enough to warm your tongue in November.

Monday night, I e-mailed The Girlfriend’s Dad with gratitude for the Carlin tickets he gave me as a birthday present a few years back. He replied with the Seven Dirty Words, and nothing else.

Strangely, none of them included “Sun,” “Devil,” or “Stoops.” Then I wondered how long he waited for a chance to level such a salvo at me.

Buzzkills pack more stopping power than curse words. I’ll never forget Carlin’s 2005 Centennial Hall show, when the spry-and-freshly-rehabbed comic riffed on the housing market’s impending crash — muffled murmurs rising from the affluent audience.

Such “I-was-right” gallows joy — the sort to wallpaper the Star’s online comments whenever the Wildcats drop a close game — marked the endpoint of Carlin’s trajectory.

It’s a little early for me to suit up in that jersey. But that’s all right. Carlin would’ve shredded this column anyway — and I’d have stolen HBO to laugh along.

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