George Carlin’s daughter offers an intimate look at her life growing up with a comedy legend.
Kelly Carlin was the only child of a father who started doing stand-up “on the stoops on his block, imitating the priests, cops and shopkeepers of [his New York City] neighborhood.” By the time she was 3, the family moved from Manhattan to Hollywood, where her father began to taste the success he had always dreamed of. But notoriety had its price. Carlin and her mother, Brenda, were often alone while George was out on the road performing. Brenda began to turn to alcohol and drugs to assuage the pain of separation and—in accordance with her husband’s wishes—of being unable to seek a life and career outside the home. Tired of being a “performing monkey” who entertained without touching on what he considered to be the truths of his times, George outgrew his early image as a clean-cut performer. By the early 1970s, he was routinely dropping acid, ingesting “ridiculous amounts of cocaine” and openly challenging the establishment with fiercely provocative comedy. Meanwhile, the Carlin household descended into chaos. Brought up without a clear sense of herself, the directionless author became involved in abusive relationships, a pattern she broke only after deciding to return to college in her late 20s. From that moment on, her “poor Hollywood rich kid” story evolves into an even more compelling one about a woman who struggles to come to terms with the parents she loved but whose choices and permissiveness caused her to stumble as a young adult. Without casting blame on either parent, Carlin emerges from the troubled shadow of her family. She becomes a self-aware woman able to appreciate the contributions both made to her life and—in the case of her father, the comedic “god you could smoke a joint with”—to the world.
A funny, honest, and compassionate account of growing up with a master of comedy.