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  • Brian Fishbach

George Carlin’s Daughter Channels Dad in Stage Show

Photo by Sherry Greczmiel
Photo by Sherry Greczmiel

It has been almost seven years since comedian George Carlin died at age 71.

Throughout his illustrious career, he was a Hippy-Dippy Weatherman, he got arrested for wrangling the Seven Words You Can’t Say on Television, he questioned the Government, and lampooned organized religion.

For over 50 years, Carlin toured the world sharing his meticulously-rehearsed comedy with devoted audiences. And while these worshipful fans of today get satisfaction out of just thinking of the man’s quotes, his only child, Kelly Carlin, still recalls him as “Dad”.

So what was it like having one of the twentieth century’s greatest entertainers for a father?

Kelly Carlin has one weekend left of her one-month residency of her one-person show about growing up with George as Dad, and mother Brenda.

The show, titled A Carlin Home Companion, will be playing until March 1st at the 130-seat Falcon Theater in Burbank. Audiences will get not just a George tribute, but a multimedia emotional story from Kelly about family, adolescence, dreams, passions, life, humor, and death.

“One of the things is just to be able to give [George Carlin] fans a 360-degree human perspective of my father as a man, as a husband, as a struggling artist who questioned purpose in life,” said Kelly of her show. “People saw this one version of my father on stage and just didn’t know much about him as a human.”

And it wasn’t all glamor and glory for Kelly, having a famous (and in some circles, infamous) Dad and growing up on Los Angeles’ lavish west side. Kelly’s show illustrates that the simplicity of her father’s comedy actually came from a man with a complicated, yet always loving, home life.

In total, Kelly Carlin’s show is the product of four years of writing, memorizing and performing the show at comedy festivals—carefully refining each moment of the 45 years she shared with her father down to a 95-minute masterpiece. Evidently, editing and exquisite stage presence are hereditary virtues.

Kelly, 51, hopes that people can learn through her story that coming to terms with life’s burdens can “take a while,”  and “takes a lot of courage.” She says that the show is “an interesting balance between being on [her] life, and at this point, is an exercise as an artist in creating a world for the audience to live through.”

Along with the stage direction of comedian-filmmaker Paul Provenza (The Aristocrats), A Carlin Home Companion brings to life what Kelly says, is the vulnerability many artists struggle with as they attempt to feel internally safe in the world.

Some of the most well-known comedians today have shown interest in Kelly’s show. In a recent episode of his podcast with Kelly, comedian Todd Glass admitted that he will not only be seeing the show with his production staff, but that he is indeed one of those fans who has elevated George (jocularly) to near-deity status: when Glass feels the need to prove himself, he doesn’t “swear to God”, he swears “to George Carlin”.

When the Los Angeles run of A Carlin Home Companion ends in early March, Kelly plans to take the show national. She will also be releasing what will likely be a detailed and deep memoir in September of this year.

And if you want to share some quality time with Kelly as she shares her tales from the Carlin family, go see A Carlin Home Companion on its final weekend:


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