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  • Savannah Pointer

George Carlin v. Richard Pryor: Who Said it Best?

Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but humor undoubtedly cascades from the belly laughs of every person who has heard the work of comedians Richard Pryor and George Carlin.

Carlin is quoted to have said that “Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist,” and he could have been speaking about either himself or Pryor when he said it.

Easily considered two of the most influential comedians in their time, the pair’s parallel careers have often been compared thanks to the controversial issues that the two of them had a habit of addressing.

While even those without sight can, of course, appreciate the comedy that both Pryor and Carlin produce, anyone who doesn’t see Pryor perform his acts would be missing part of what he brings to the table.

This legend of standup has the ability to totally embody not just people and their emotions, but creatures and situations in a unique way that has us talking about him decades after some of his most iconic performances.

Pryor’s guileless way of drawing his audiences into the minds of not just himself, but any character that he chooses to embody makes him easily one of the most talented and notable comedians of our time, even when addressing the most sensitive of issues.

Warning: EXPLICATE CONTENT (seriously, wear headphones)

Carlin’s much more aggressive and even hostile vibe, however, has stood the test of time, especially resonating with those who have an aversion to today’s politically correct culture.

The iconic comedian wasn’t accustomed to pulling any punches, and everyone was fair game; women, men, white, black, young and old could all be caught blushing as Carlin stomped on their particular hobby in one of his shows.

Carlin was especially hard on his fellow Americans, leaning into his own common sense version of truth-telling. That concept has endeared him to many, especially conservatives.

Warning: EXPLICATE CONTENT (again, sorry)

While we look to larger than life greats like Carlin and Pryor to make us laugh, let us not forget that their lives were as colorful and multi-dimensional as any public figure of today.

Carlin is credited with authorship of one of the most repeated inspirational quotes of our day when he said that, “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”

Pryor summed up his own career by saying, “Two things people throughout history have had in common are hatred and humor. I am proud that I have been able to use humor to lessen people’s hatred.”

Who do you consider to be the funniest or most socially influential?

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