To an artist, there's nothing more imprisoning than success. Well, I guess actual prison counts too. And, you know what, poverty that renders you incapable of pursuing your art in a meaningful way can be pretty imprisoning as well. Scratch that; there's a list of things that can imprison an artist. Comedy legend George Carlin often felt imprisoned by a list of his own making. At the height of his career in the 90s, Carlin hated that people couldn't stop associating him with his seven dirty words bit.
Emanating from his iconic album Class Clown in 1972, Carlin's hysterical list of seven obscenities haunted him for decades. It's not like he regretted the bit or anything, but rather that he felt his comedy had dramatically matured since. As he mentioned in his posthumously released autobiography, Last Words, Carlin found the correlation so annoying due to his conscious efforts to weave his artistic and personal maturation into his act. The George Carlin of the 60s was a completely different beast than the foul-mouthed hero of the counter culture that he became in the 70s. Throughout the latter half of the 70s and into the 80s, Carlin began to further strip away the fraudulence of his tame public persona to reveal his true self. And while his final artistic transformation didn't bear fruit until 1994's Jamming in New York, Carlin's glacial evolution always occurred in the public eye.
One step along Carlin's journey of self-discovery is the bit showcased in the video above. As he began to shave away the excess around his comedy to zero in on his now trademark style, Carlin worked through a host of sets that now seem bizarre in retrospect. While it may not be everyone's cup of tea, I find the video to be an interesting piece of the mosaic that is Carlin's epic career.