Still loved long after his passing, George Carlin quotes reflect his brash views on controversial topics from politics and religion to consumerism and conservation. No subject was off-limits to the New York-born lapsed Catholic, and he wasn’t afraid to offend his audience in order to stay true to his beliefs.
By the early 1970s, his stubborn perseverance paid off when George Carlin found his groove recording comedy albums.
His uncensored material sold like hotcakes and even earned him a Grammy. He also found great success as a television performer with 14 HBO stand-up specials to his credit. Carlin’s wry wit and no-nonsense attitude made all four of his books best-sellers, but he still managed to perform close to 100 concerts each year right up until the time of his death in 2008.
As these 20 George Carlin quotes prove, his comedy brought more than just laughter, it encouraged audiences to fight back against social injustice. And it is just as relevant today as it was decades ago.
Keep reading to learn our favorite George Carlin quotes from the late comedy legend…
1. “Don’t just teach your children to read. Teach them to question what they read. Teach them to question everything.”
2. “Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.”
3. “Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist.”
4. “Trying to be happy by accumulating possessions is like trying to satisfy hunger by taping sandwiches all over your body.”
5. “Most people work just hard enough not to get fired and get paid just enough money not to quit.”
6. “We have multiplied our possessions but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often. We’ve learned how to make a living but not a life. We’ve added years to life, not life to years.”
7. “Those who dance are considered insane by those who cannot hear the music.”
8. “I often warn people: ‘Somewhere along the way, someone is going to tell you, ‘There is no ‘I’ in team.’ What you should tell them is, ‘Maybe not. But there is an ‘I’ in independence, individuality, and integrity.”
9. “If it’s true that our species is alone in the universe, then I’d have to say the universe aimed rather low and settled for very little.”
10. “I think people should be allowed to do what they want. We haven’t tried that for a while. Maybe this time it’ll work.”
11. “If you have selfish, ignorant citizens, you’re going to have selfish, ignorant leaders.”
12. “That’s why they call it the American Dream, because you have to be asleep to believe it.”
13. “Some people see things that are and ask, Why? Some people dream of things that never were and ask, Why not? Some people have to go to work and don’t have time for all that.”
14. “I’m completely in favor of the separation of Church and State … These two institutions screw us up enough on their own, so both of them together is certain death.”
15. “Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority will believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure.”
16. “Life gets really simple once you cut out all the bullshit they teach you in school.”
17. “When you’re born into this world, you’re given a ticket to the freak show. If you’re born in America, you get a front-row seat.”
18. “Some people have no idea what they’re doing, and a lot of them are really good at it.”
19. “No matter how you care to define it, I do not identify with the local group. Planet, species, race, nation, state, religion, party, union, club, association, neighborhood improvement committee; I have no interest in any of it. I love and treasure individuals as I meet them; I loathe and despise the groups they identify with and belong to.”
20. “The IQ and the life expectancy of the average American recently passed each other in opposite directions.”