George Carlin was a "monster" who "downright invented modern American stand-up," according to Jerry Seinfeld.
In a touching op-ed piece in Tuesday’s New York Times, Jerry paid tribute to his late mentor, the irreverent groundbreaking comedian who broke all the rules in comedy and set standards high for future talent.
"Every comedian does a little George," he writes. "I couldn’t even count the number of times I’ve been standing around with some comedians and someone talks about some idea for a joke and another comedian would say, “Carlin does it.” I’ve heard it my whole career: ‘Carlin does it,’ ‘Carlin already did it,’ ‘Carlin did it eight years ago.’"
The way George did it though is what’s notable, Jerry says. So brilliant was he that he often "made you sorry you ever thought you wanted to be a comedian."
"He worked over an idea like a diamond cutter with facets and angles and refractions of light," he says. "He was like a train hobo with a chicken bone. When he was done there was nothing left for anybody."
Having idolized him since the ’60s, the 54-year-old says "the whole world was funny" thanks to George. They developed a close friendship over the years, and Jerry spoke to the comedian just nine days before his passing, joking about how death comes in groups.
"We were talking about Tim Russert and Bo Diddley and George said: ‘I feel safe for a while. There will probably be a break before they come after the next one. I always like to fly on an airline right after they’ve had a crash. It improves your odds.’"
He continues, "I know George didn’t believe in heaven or hell. Like death, they were just more comedy premises. And it just makes me even sadder to think that when I reach my own end, whatever tumbling cataclysmic vortex of existence I’m spinning through, in that moment I will still have to think, ‘Carlin already did it.’"