How the Great George Carlin Showed Louis CK the Way to Success (NSFW)

There’s prob­a­bly not a standup come­di­an big­ger than Louis CK right now. His FX tele­vi­sion show, Louie, earned him two Emmy Award nom­i­na­tions in 2011, and his recent com­e­dy spe­cial, Live at the Bea­con The­ater, made his­to­ry when CK dis­trib­uted the show via the web (not HBO) and net­ted $1,000,000 in sales in a mat­ter of days.

Louis CK is rid­ing a good wave. But times weren’t always so easy. Back in 2010, CK spoke at a trib­ute to George Car­lin (host­ed at the ven­er­a­ble New York Pub­lic Library) and revis­it­ed his ear­ly days in the pro­fes­sion. For years — actu­al­ly 15 long years — CK per­formed the same old act and spun his wheels. Then he looked to Car­lin and turned his career around. As you might expect, the sto­ry is laced with some pro­fan­i­ty. (Come on, it’s Louis CK talk­ing about George Car­lin!) But, when you strip the lan­guage away, you get a good life les­son. Per­se­ver­ance counts. But so does per­spec­tive, get­ting the right per­spec­tive.

Louis CK’s talk appears above. You can find the full Car­lin trib­ute here. And don’t miss a very relat­ed video where Car­lin describes the turn­ing point in his own life — the moment when he learned “not to give a shit” and his com­ic genius came into full bloom.


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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.