Just months before he died, George Carlin was looking into the face of death — and making it the butt of his jokes.
"You know what I've been doing? Going through my address book and crossing out the dead people. It gives you a feeling of power, of superiority, to have outlasted another old friend," Carlin says on what turned out to be his final comedy album. The recording, "It's Bad For Ya," comes out Tuesday on Eardrum Records.
Carlin died June 22 of a heart attack at 71.
In an interview four months before his death, he told The Associated Press he was particularly pleased with the material he was working up for the album and an HBO show that aired last March.
"Definitely some people who are close to me who have seen this show, and have seen a lot of the others, feel this is my best stuff yet," he said.
Among them was his daughter, Kelly Carlin McCall, who said she was delighted to see the album mark a return to what she called her father's "playful goofiness." In recent years, she noted, his routines had seemed to get darker and angrier.
Not so this time, with Carlin waxing on — with four-letter words in abundance — about the advantages of getting older.
"It's a great time of life, you get to take advantage of people and you're not responsible for anything," he says on the album. He adds that he discovered a popular pastime could be had gathering family members around and pretending to have Alzheimer's.
"You say, 'Who are you people and where's my horse?"
Although there will be no more new routines, Carlin is still around, thanks to his daughter and brother, Patrick, who spent a weekend earlier this month scattering his ashes at his favorite haunts around the country. They stopped in front of the nightclubs he played in New York City's Greenwich Village and at a summer camp in New Hampshire where, as a child, he received a necklace for winning the drama competition. He was wearing it the day he died.
Accompanied by old friends from the neighborhood, they also stopped at a park on the edge of Harlem where Carlin grew up.
"The wind blew him around a little bit when Kelly threw his ashes," Patrick Carlin recalled.