Jon Stewart, Lewis Black, Bill Maher and Joan Rivers were among the comedians who honored George Carlin last night with the Mark Twain Prize for Humor at the Kennedy Center.
Carlin, who died two days after being informed of the honor in June at the age of 71, was represented at the gala by his daughter, Kelly Carlin McCall. “He would have loved the show,” she said. “It was great.”
Jon Stewart said that what inspired him about Carlin was his work ethic. “He was a blue collar worker, punching the clock every day” as a prolific writer of comedy. Stewart interviewed George Carlin in 1997 for the live television show “40 Years of Comedy”, a retrospective of Carlin’s work. “Just his work ethic alone, writing at the computer every day, shows that if you work hard you can succeed,” Stewart told a group of fans at a party after the show.
Joan Rivers lit up the stage in a red flowing dress saying that she was invited to say a few words about Carlin. “I would need at least seven,” she quipped, referring to Carlin’s infamous “Seven Words You Can’t Say on Television”. But she chose three instead, “Brilliant. Outrageous. Groundbreaking.”
The touching and laugh-strewn award ceremony, featuring also Lily Tomlin, Richard Belzer, Dennis Leary, and Gary Shandling, will air nationally on PBS — with bleeps to cover the seven words — in early 2009.