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Carlin Home Companion


“A Carlin Home Companion is a funny, touching, intimate look inside the life of one of the most brilliant comedy minds the world has ever known from the unique perspective of a young woman trying to find her own voice. In it, George Carlin’s daughter Kelly emerges from her father’s looming shadow as her own unique creative force. A master storyteller.”

– Dan Pasternak, IFC VP Development and Programming

“Kelly Carlin has brought her own voice to tell the tale of one of the great comedy heroes of all time, George Carlin. She takes you on a ride through time, emotion, through challenges and evolution. She’s a master storyteller, and you will fall in love with her as much as you did with her dad. Kelly carries his torch with her own brand of genius, and the evening is well lit by that indeed. You’re a sap if you don’t make every effort to see this show.”

– Rick Overton

“The journey to womanhood by a girl who happens to be George Carlin’s daughter makes for a transcendent show that operates on all levels. It’s revealing, moving, highly insightful and funny. Master George might have said: ‘Maybe she’s a little too damn honest. But, all I know is, it’s a wonder to see.”

– Garry Shandling

“Kelly Carlin’s show is an unexpected experience of self realization that is moving, intelligent, funny and great theatre that can stand alone as just that. The fact that it revolves around her father, a beloved icon of comedy, is the icing on the cake.”

– Laraine Newman

“Kelly Carlin’s highly entertaining one-woman-show is pure joy for fans of George Carlin’s and comedy in general. Deftly intertwining her life with that of her father’s, she creates a truly insider look at the man she calls dad, and we call the father of modern comedy. To see the joy, the challenges and the love that she has experienced makes us feel up close and personal to the man himself. Kelly is a wonderful story teller, its no surprise to see the apple has fallen so close to the tree. To see this show is to fall in love with George and his comedy all over again and with Kelly for the first time. A must see.”

– Ross Fineman, Exec. Producer – Lights Out


A Carlin Home Companion/Growing Up with George/written & performed by Kelly Carlin/directed by Paul Provenza/Falcon Theatre/through March 1

Whereas contemporary parents struggle to keep their children away from drugs and alcohol, Kelly Carlin spent her girlhood trying to keep her parents clean and sober, Growing up with George Carlin and his wife Brenda was not the easiest task, as young Kelly figuratively spent many useless years on a street corner trying to find herself, who she truly was and what she wanted to do with her life. In a one-woman odyssey of self-discovery Carlin manages to get us to truly like her and still keep alive and in the center spotlight the sheer genius of her dad, comic icon George Carlin. My only qualm is that the show now onstage at the Falcon Theatre in Burbank could be trimmed down a tad, but overall it is engaging entertainment. A Carlin Home Companion will soon be a book published by St. Martin’s Press and you can catch Kelly and her family portrait onstage through March 1.

What we remember about George Carlin’s comedy is the spunk, the unabashed audacity to say how he felt about a variety of topics, including honest assaults on our government and stark appraisals of the way we are forced to live, at the mercy of commercialism and overall deception. Kelly Carlin wisely utilizes not only projections to tell her story but actual TV footage of her dad’s standup, including the 7 Dirty Words monologue, his hilarious evaluation of self-help books and programs, and my most favorite “Life Is Worth Losing” where he talks about being victimized by junk mail, junk food, junk bonds and other serious trash. His frequent use of expletives, as with Lenny Bruce, seemed more humorous than abrasive, in his brilliant use of language, distilled in his book Brain Droppings. His fast-paced patter with a multitude of words as he tried to prove our victimization gave him the tile of Counter Culture God of the 70s on up.

It is obvious from her tribute that daughter Kelly adored her father, and that he, in spite of his shortcomings – and there were many – equally cared for and supported her throughout his life. Father and daughter mutually helped each other, as did mother and daughter. Brenda Carlin was an alcoholic but made a full recovery only to suffer a variety of illnesses including breast cancer before she passed away. Carlin himself had several heart attacks which put him in very serious health during most of the latter part of his career. Kelly was there for both of them. It made her life uncomfortable, and yet, contributed greatly to making her the strong, independent woman she is today.

Kelly worked with her dad on an HBO special and did some fine comedy acting of her own, and George was exceedingly proud of her accomplishments, but it was her association with and eventual marriage to Bob McCall that made all the difference in her career choices as a writer. Kelly found her love, acceptance and freedom and sums up by with usual strength and candor to “follow your courage and find your light”. There’s nothing new in A Carlin Home Companion. It’s the same advice we’ve heard regurgitated over and over, but it’s the way it’s told that makes all the difference. Kelly Carlin’s candor about her parents – and obvious pride of her lineage – and about her own problems make her a genuinely honest performer to be reckoned with…and, those delightful memories of George Carlin’s brilliance is enough to recommend the show for anyone who is into comedy and what makes it tick.

Gratefully, director Paul Provenza stages simplistically, leaving Kelly pretty much to her own devices. Bravo to Mike Jespersen for his terrific technical direction.

A Carlin Home Companion – A LAUGHSPIN review

MONTREAL — Garrison Keillor may not have deigned to perform a monologue of “The Seven Dirty Words” in a surprise guest appearance, but A Carlin Home Companion – forgive me, NPR – didn’t require any public broadcasting credentials to classify as a best of the fest selection. The one-woman play and creative brainchild of Kelly Carlin, only living heir to the George Carlin comedy empire, the show commanded such rapt attention of its audience that one might have thought the big man himself had dropped in for a posthumous performance. Like her father before her, Kelly is a deft and capable storyteller – a natural entertainer who, as the product of a rather unnatural childhood, held all in attendance captive and spellbound as she recounted tales of alcoholism, cocaine abuse and life as a showbiz kid.

Equal parts heartbreaking and humorous, Carlin interjected family photos and video clips of her father’s most iconic stand-up sets between a brilliantly woven monologue about the complex tapestry associated with growing up as a Carlin. A licensed therapist and artist in her own right, Kelly never attempted to piggy-back off her father’s success; nor did she make any kind of concerted effort to co-opt his iconic comic stylings. What shone through, without effort, were the striking similarity in manner and perspective. Occasionally, without really intending to, Kelly would strike a look or affect a voice so similar to the footage shown behind her, it would be difficult not to see the more famous half of Carlin and Burns starring back out from her glistening eyes. Watching Kelly speak at length about her experiences while taking in classic comedy clips of the elder Carlin, one couldn’t help but smile knowingly at the chip carrying on in the wake of the block’s passing.

And speaking of the passing, well, there were more than a handful of sniffles in the house by the time Kelly got around to wrapping her story up. Her voice cracking with emotion, Carlin implored her listeners to revel in the light her father had left upon the world, and to share and spread it whenever at all possible. Carlin wasn’t much for the concept of heaven, of course, but if the after life exists, Kelly for one likes to believe her father is at a perfect sort of peace. I’m right there with her, but I’d still like to hope that angel George is busy doling out some serious knowledge to the rest of the heavenly host, as they watch us continue to fuck up our world beyond repair. Oh George. You are missed, but you have left a legacy to be proud of, in spawn as well as spirit. – Emma Kat Richardson


Experience Joy: The quality comedy at SXSW 2012 is worth making extra time for – BY DAN SOLOMAN

…That’s how things went for me – I managed to squeeze in Kelly Carlin’s one-woman show, A Carlin Home Companion, on Saturday afternoon. The setup wasn’t ideal – the show is a tale fraught with drug abuse, betrayals, and loss (along with a good number of laughs), and a ballroom in the Austin Convention Center, where badge-holders listened with one ear while they checked email on their phones, isn’t exactly prime. Not that the conditions mattered much to Carlin, who clearly picked up some of the performance chops that come with the family name.

Her monologue tells her full life story, but she’s a sensitive and attentive enough storyteller that she knows that if she titles a show A Carlin Home Companion, then it’s George Carlin that an audience is going to want to hear about. There’s something remarkable about a performer who’s so willing to cast herself as a side character in her own experiences if it serves the narrative, and her show is about growing up the daughter of a hero of the counterculture. While Kelly Carlin obviously shares her father’s love of wordplay and imagery (on Milwaukee’s SummerFest, where her father was arrested in 1972: “It was an ocean of beer surrounding an island of sausage,”), she may exceed him when it comes to grace and generosity as a storyteller.


The Sins of the Father

By Heidi Dvorak

George Carlin has not left the building. At least, his spirit still remains. But now it’s in the earthly form of his only child, Kelly, whose one-woman show, A Carlin Home Companion, would do a teller of tales like Garrison Keillor — and Poppa — proud. Well, maybe the Prairie Home humorist wouldn’t be so over-the-moon about the candid confessions of alcoholism, cocaine abuse and dysfunctional dysphoria. But Poppa certainly would get a kick out of Kelly’s comitragic spin on life with father — who didn’t always know best. Keen observers might spot traces of the elder Carlin in Kelly’s delivery — articulate, incisive, dramatic and cutting-edge — yet she doesn’t pretend to be the Hippie Dippy Weatherman or even a wry social commentator. Using projected family photos as a backdrop, she narrates her family history: what it was like to be a 9-year-old watching her father be arrested for violating obscenity laws; or living in the Palisades surrounded by conservatives while Dad hurled insults across the driveway. Some might think it would’ve been cool to be the kid of a counterculture hero. It certainly provided for interesting — and now entertaining — times.

Montreal Gazette

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Review Fix

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