He was the comedian who actually said the seven words you can never say on television, but close friends and family members remembered George Carlin as a man who, when he was off stage, had only a kind word for everyone he met.
At a private memorial service Sunday attended by some 150 people — “That was as small as we could keep it,” chuckled Carlin’s daughter, Kelly Carlin McCall — her father was memorialized by comedians Bill Maher, Garry Shandling and others as someone who had no enemies, in part because he was nice to everyone he spoke to.
“What everyone said tonight is if you spent time with my father, whether it was five seconds or five hours, he was kind, attentive, very connected to you, compassionate,” said Carlin’s daughter.
Among those who spoke at the service, which was closed to the public and news media, was Shandling, who told of being a teenage college student when he sought out Carlin nearly 40 years ago.
“My dad read his material and encouraged him to continue on, which was a life-changing moment in Gary’s life,” McCall said after the service.
Overall, Carlin’s daughter said, the service was a happy event, one presided over in part by her father himself, who spoke from a montage of video clips assembled from his 51-year career.
Carlin, who died June 22 of heart failure, recorded nearly two dozen albums, 14 HBO comedy specials, wrote three best-selling books and appeared in numerous movies and TV shows.
“It was a very, very light event, as he wanted it,” McCall said of the two-hour service. “He wanted a lot of laughter. I’d say 90 percent of it was laughing and just remembering what he brought to us in his funny way.”
Although his standup routines were often filled with four-letter words — so many that early in his career Carlin was sometimes hauled off stage and taken to jail — his dead-on ability to highlight the absurdities of everyday life, and do so in such comical voices and faces, made his humor come across as anything but harsh.
And although famous for four-letter words, Carlin, 71, did not always use them. He was also Mr. Conductor on the children’s show “Shining Time Station,” Fillmore the hippie van in the 2006 children’s movie “Cars,” and the guest host of the first “Saturday Night Live” episode ever broadcast. That 1975 show was replayed by NBC on Saturday night in his honor.
There also was more to Carlin than just the comedian, said McCall, and that too was reflected at her father’s funeral.
He loved music, and his service was attended by Kenny Rankin, who sang “Here’s That Rainy Day,” and Spanky McFarlane of the 1960s pop group Spanky and Our Gang, who performed the song “Coming Home.”
Other speakers included Carlin’s older brother, Patrick, his partner, Sally Wade, and his former standup partner, Jack Burns. Carlin’s wife, Brenda Hosbrook Carlin, died in 1997.
Carlin and Burns had met in 1960, and although they worked as a comedy duo only briefly they remained lifelong friends.
In an earlier AP interview, Burns recalled Carlin calling him several times a year to remind him of such things as the anniversary of the day they met, the day they did their first show together and, in one less-than-joyful incident, the day they were jailed for armed robbery in Texas in a case of mistaken identity.
That’s just the sentimentalist he was, said McCall, who is Carlin’s only child.
“He went out of his way to make sure friends and family members, if they needed anything, he was there for them,” she said. “He was a complete man. He was more than just the seven words you can never say on television.”