by: JK Clarke
It’s a shame Kelly Carlin’s solo show A Carlin Home Companion: Growing Up with George only ran for four performances at the 2013 All for One Theater Festival earlier this month. This isn’t just a performance for fans of the late George Carlin — one of the most incisive and genius American comics ever — who want to get a peek inside his personal life and learn more about him. Yes, it does provide all that. But Ms. Carlin tells us about her father, mother and herself in a deeply touching, thought-provoking and entertaining manner.
Most of us are familiar with at least one or two of George Carlin’s famous bits: “Seven Dirty Words (You Can’t Say On TV)” (which became a cultural touchstone); “A Place For My Stuff;” and “Baseball vs. Football.” But the casual fan probably isn’t aware of the breadth and depth of his remarkable career and its many transformations. Ms. Carlin walks us through his entire history, giving us an insider’s view of the very difficult life of a standup comic (and his family) and the shift from journeyman to superstar. And she does so with pleasant shifts in time and tempo, punctuated by period music (rock and roll, punk, new wave) which she often accompanies with a light dance — she’s clearly enjoying telling her story and reminiscing, as painful as it must be at times (and joyous at others).
The production is concise and streamlined, thanks surely in part to director Paul Provenza, a comic who truly understands comics and has proven himself time and again by directing comedians in wonderful performances (the terrific comic-studded film The Aristocrats, as an example). The clips of Carlin on stage (or in TV appearances) are unique and perfectly illustrative of the breadth of his talent.
Carlin herself has had brushes with Hollywood and showed real acting chops, as she demonstrates in a clip from a sitcom pilot she appeared in with her father; clearly the performance genes were passed down from dad, and we’re presented with a delightful and informative performance. Here’s hoping it comes back for a longer run.
A Carlin Home Companion. 2013 All For One Theater Festival – Cherry Lane Theater (Hopefully coming back soon).www.thekellycarlinsite.com