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September 10, 2001: Stand-Up Comic George Carlin Performs a Joke about a Plane Exploding and Bin Laden Being Blamed

George Carlin.George Carlin. [Source: TheFamousPeople (.com)]The comedian George Carlin makes a joke during a performance that, ironically in light of the terrorist attacks the following day, is about a passenger aircraft being caused to explode in mid-air and Osama bin Laden getting blamed for the incident. Tonight, as on the previous night, Carlin performs a show at the MGM Grand casino in Las Vegas in which he works through material he intends to use when he records his next HBO special, in November. That special is going to be called “I Kinda Like It When a Lotta People Die.”
Carlin Jokes about Emergencies in Which the 'Back End of the Plane Blows Off' - During the show, Carlin makes a joke about what can happen when passengers fart in an airliner. “In these third world flights, in the economy section, about an hour after the meal service they quite often have these life-threatening fart emergencies,” he begins. He says that in these situations, “the worst place to be is in the last three rows, because what happens is these planes get flying so fast that all the most vicious, lethal, volatile, flammable, unstable farts get pushed toward the back of the airplane where they begin to build up pressure.” This can lead to the plane exploding in mid-air, he claims. He says: “They build and they build and they build until they reach critical fart density—CFD—and they continue to build throughout the flight until finally some kid turns on a Game Boy, and b-boom-boom! The whole back end of the plane blows off.”
Carlin Says Bin Laden Gets Wrongly Blamed for the Incidents - Carlin then mentions the al-Qaeda leader when he says: “And you know who gets blamed? Osama bin Laden. Terrorists get blamed for these explosions that are nothing more than cabbage-fart detonations.” He adds that, after the disasters, the “FBI don’t know what to do” because its agents are “looking for explosives” when “they should be looking for minute traces of rice and bok choy.” [New York Times, 9/4/2016; New Yorker, 9/10/2016; Carlin, 9/16/2016]
Joke Will Be Unused after 9/11 - Carlin will abandon or rewrite much of the material he has been working on for his HBO special, including this joke, in response to the 9/11 attacks and the name of the special will be changed to “Complaints and Grievances.” The joke about bin Laden and exploding airplanes will remain virtually unknown until September 2016, eight years after Carlin’s death, when it is included on an album that includes material recorded during the comedian’s September 2001 performances in Las Vegas. [Washington Post, 9/7/2016; New Yorker, 9/10/2016; CNN, 9/12/2016]
Carlin Is a Controversial Comedian and Social Commentator - Carlin is “the dean of counterculture comedians,” according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. His jokes have frequently breached the accepted boundaries of comedy and language, and he is also “as much a social commentator and philosopher as comedian.” [Plain Dealer (Cleveland), 6/23/2008] The New York Times will call him “the greatest political comic in history if measured only by stand-up specials.” [New York Times, 9/4/2016] In his social commentary and his comedy routines he attacks “what he thought of as the palliating and obfuscating agents of American life—politicians, advertisements, religion, the media, and conventional thinking of all stripes,” the Times will report. [New York Times, 6/24/2008]

Entity Tags: George Carlin, Osama bin Laden

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

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