George Carlin. 5/12/1937-6/22/2008.
I first heard Carlin when I was a freshman in high school. Up to that time I had been kept from the edgier stuff by my parents, and none of my friends had any exposure to it either. But all that changed when a newly made friend (who was a junior and a ride to school so I didn't have to ride the bus like the rest of the frosh) put his copy of "A Place For My Stuff" into his tape player in his Dodge Charger.
It isn't often that you are in a place when you realize that your life has changed. This was one of those times.
I had always been the class clown, and had been heavily influenced by Spike Jones and Bill Cosby as well as the classic radio comics like Jack Benny and the Marx Brothers, and Laurel and Hardy and Abbott and Costello. But I had never heard a comedian use real politics and social commentary, a comedian that made you think while you laugh. Not to mention he used those words that I used while playing football but not in the house. Carlin opened up a whole new world to me. A world inhabited by Richard Pryor and Lenny Bruce, and later Bill Hicks and Sam Kinison.
I didn't always agree with his nihilistic outlook on life, nor his views on God and religion. But I respected his right to have his own opinion on those matters, and more to the point respected that he had informed, intelligent, rational arguments to support his points.
And damn was he funny.