Kelly Carlin is a natural on stage. She brings to life a perspective of a sad and lost young girl having to deal with very lax and drug addicted parents. On stage she seems so ‘normal’. What the heck could have happened to her? As an only child to parents that live in a world of fame, drugs, and denial, her family dynamics make us cringe. However, she is able to bring forth a side to her father’s career with intimate stories that gives us a slice of life some forty years ago. It’s a time in our collective consciousness when rebellion and outspokenness was a necessity for those that opposed conformity and wanted change. George Carlin was this person. His iconic comedic talent was not just about the jokes. The precision, timing, and brilliant language he presented to his audience made him the apex of a generation of thinkers that did more than entertain us. His infamous routine of the seven words not spoken on television earned him the reputation of a loose rebel. In the same breath as Lenny Bruce (they were friends); George led an equal revolution of language that brought down the house.
Young Kelly had to live in a household where dad traveled constantly for work and mother drowned in alcohol to hide her demons. Difficult to overcome for any child, but when your parent is famous, it presents an added burden to climb. She appears to have done this climb very well. Her difficulties did not only stem from a no rules household with stoned parents, but a desire to please and make right the family wrongs. George liked to call himself, his daughter, and wife the ‘3 musketeers’ in order to mask the depth of the problems. In order to overcome this mess it soon became apparent Kelly needed to find her own destiny. She yearned to please the father who would come alive on stage while hiding in denial at home. Thankfully, she eventually makes peace and starts to nurture herself while attaining personal and professional success. On stage she takes the audience along with her on this road with humor, tears, and unforgettable moments.
The stage is simple, but it works. Kelly moves and gyrates around recalling moments of her childhood that make you laugh. However, the highlight of the show is the video footage playing behind her on stage. It is classic George Carlin performing at the pivotal moments in his life and ours. The audience is brought back to a time when television was king, and all eyes were glued to the Sunday night Ed Sullivan Show or the Late Night Show with Johnny Carson. We are witness again to the master wordsmith performing his heart out with rhythm, rhyme, cynicism and angst.
This show should not be missed. It is part of our collective history highlighting distinctive moments of a man who made us laugh and think. His incredibly fast and clever lyrics definitely beat the simple and angry language of any commercially successful rapper of today. What a lovely tribute by a talented daughter to her father. Kelly Carlin has proven her skill at writing and starring in this production. With an experienced touch, the director Paul Provenza smartly allows the actor to manage the role herself. It is now playing through March 1 at the always wonderful Falcon Theater in Burbank on Riverside Drive. Call for tickets (818) 955-8004.