July 7, 2015

Review: Napalm & Silly Putty by George Carlin

Title: Napalm & Silly Putty

Author: George Carlin

Publisher: Hachette Books

Date of Publication: January 2001

Number of Pages: 269


He's the inventor of Past-Tense TV (featuring "Got Smart," "Father Knew Best," and "It Was Left to Beaver"); the tireless crusader for such charities as the Center for Research into the Heebie Jeebies, Children of Parents with Bad Teeth, and the State Hospital for Those Who Felt All Right About a Year Ago; founder of the George Carlin Book Club (top titles: "How to Act Laid-Back During a Grease Fire," "Fill Your Life with Croutons," and "The Meaning of Corn"); and the only social commentator with the guts to point out that "the day after tomorrow is the third day of the rest of your life."

Yes, George Carlin is back with more of what he does better than any other comic today: uproarious observations, laser-targeted crankiness, linguistic legerdemain, and inspired weirdness. ("If the shoe fits, get another just like it." "When you sneeze, all the numbers in your head go up by one") Napalm & Silly Putty is just what his fans have been waiting for—another generous helping of notions, nonsense, assertions, assumptions, mockery, merriment, silliness, sarcasm, and, to be sure, plenty of disturbing references and toxic alienation. George wouldn't have it any other way.


George Carlin was a legendary comedian. Even before I started getting into stand-up comedy, which was actually pretty recently, I was aware of him. So when I started reading this book I was curious to find out what it would be like. Would his writing style be similar to the way he talked in his lives? Would his jokes be equally funny when they were written down and not performed? These were a few of my questions and I was delighted to find out the result. 

Carlin in Napalm & Silly Putty had a great variety of themes that he explored, many of them very typical of him, like the government, religion and death. The chapters didn't have a thematical connection most of the times but throughout the book there were several chapters with Short Takes and The Evening News. From these, Short Takes were my absolute favourite ones that included short jokes, many times one-line long. 

The writing style was unique. It resembled the way that Carlin talked, so almost all of the time I imagined him talking. Maybe I should try listening to the audio version of the book. But reading the jokes didn't take any of my enjoyment away, I was constantly laughing out loud. Besides, Carlin had this very characteristic way of expressing himself and he maintained it as it was, with all the profanities and the satirical comments.

What I really liked about this comedy is the truth that it depicts. George Carlin in this book commented the wrongs of our society, without holding anything back. The observations concerning our everyday lives revealed so many absurdities that it's impossible not to laugh. I was surprised, but Napalm & Silly Putty was one of the most thought-provoking books I've read this period. Like this following quote, People add extra words when they want things to sound more important than they really are. Every page contained truths that left an impression on me. 

All in all, Napalm & Silly Putty is an excellent read for the comedy lovers. In fact, I would urge everybody to get familiar with Carlin's work. It's funny, but stimulating at the same time. Before closing my review, I would like to share an anecdote with you. A few days after I finished this book I had to travel by plane. There are three chapters in this book talking about the airline announcements. When the plane was ready to take off and the flight attendants were demonstrating the safety instructions I couldn't keep myself from laughing on my own. Like almost all of the time. I think I will never listen to those instructions with a straight face ever again. 

So, my advice is...


  1. George Carlin was a master of combining the wickedly funny with the cold hard truth. The end result always seemed to be something so funny and so true that it hurt. I'm delighted to discover that he also has a book (or books?). You make it very hard to resist adding more books to my collection...

  2. I wonder, when does the reading list ever get smaller? It's always the contrary for me!
    Yes, George Carlin had numerous books published and I'm inclined to read more since Napalm and Silly Putty was one of the most enjoyable reads I've had this year so far :)


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