Truly the voice of a generation, George Carlin gave the world some of the most hysterical and iconic comedy routines of the last fifty years. From the “Seven Dirty Words” to “A Place for My Stuff,” to “Religion is Bullshit,” he perfected the art of making audiences double over with laughter while simultaneously making people wake up to the realities (and insanities) of life in the twentieth century.
Few people glimpsed the inner life of this beloved comedian, but his only child, Kelly, was there to see it all. Born at the very beginning of his decades-long career in comedy, she slid around the “old Dodge Dart,” as he and wife Brenda drove around the country to “hell gigs.” She witnessed his transformation in the ’70s, as he fought back against—and talked back to—the establishment; she even talked him down from a really bad acid trip a time or two (“Kelly, the sun has exploded and we have eight, no-seven and a half minutes to live!”).
Kelly not only watched her father constantly reinvent himself and his comedy, but also had a front row seat to the roller coaster turmoil of her family’s inner life—alcoholism, cocaine addiction, life-threatening health scares, and a crushing debt to the IRS. But having been the only “adult” in her family prepared her little for the task of her own adulthood. All the while, Kelly sought to define her own voice as she separated from the shadow of her father’s genius.
With rich humor and deep insight, Kelly Carlin pulls back the curtain on what it was like to grow up as the daughter of one of the most recognizable comedians of our time, and become a woman in her own right. This vivid, hilarious, heartbreaking story is at once singular and universal-it is a contemplation of what it takes to move beyond the legacy of childhood, and forge a life of your own.
The New York Times Book Review – Jason Zinoman
[Carlin’s] work was cerebral, rarely delving into his personal life, which makes the sensitively observed portrait…seem like an introduction to an old friend. It offers a history of his career and his life from the perspective of a devoted but cleareyed daughter, but is most interesting as a character portrait…Kelly writes about the family dynamics unblinkingly, and while the book is clearly a deeply felt love letter to her dad, there are hints of the dark side of being raised by a celebrity truth-teller.
The home life of legendary countercultural comedian George Carlin was a barrel of laughs, drugs, and dysfunctions, according to this wry, raw memoir by his only child. Kelly Carlin, a radio host and monologist, recounts her parents’ devotion to booze, weed, cocaine, and pills; their multiple arrests for obscenity, drug possession, and DUI; and her mother’s near-death from alcoholism. Carlin also describes the electric aura of fame surrounding her father and the shadow it threw on her and her mother, as well as his miscellaneous psychotic breaks, including the time George urgently warned family and friends that the sun had exploded. The legacy for the author was an incredibly lax upbringing, her own epic substance abuse (in high school her dad happily gave her money to buy pot), ill-considered relationships, crippling panic attacks, and a feckless adulthood spent nibbling at the edges of the entertainment industry. Carlin’s absorption in herself and her family melodrama is intense; the narrative is full of neediness, narcissism, and name dropping—“Nothing could possibly top having sex with Leif Garrett in Ryan O’Neal and Farrah Fawcett’s bed”—and her accounts of her parent’s funerary rites drag on for chapters. Still, she captures the wackiness of celebrity-hood, and pens a vivid portrait of her parents, with acerbic wit and real pathos. Agent: Eddie Pietzak, Renaissance. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
“There are a lot of nights I still wish I could sit next to George and talk; this is the next best thing. Wonderful read.” —Jon Stewart
“Entertaining and enlightening!” —The Washington Post
“Drop all your expectations when you open this book. It is written in the DNA of a Carlin, honest, biting, savage, funny, sad, dark, and profound. Kelly Carlin takes us on a journey from growing up in the shadow of one America’s greatest comic icons into the light that it led her into. Hold on; like George Carlin, this book gives you a hell of a ride.” —Lewis Black
“With A Carlin Home Companion, Kelly Carlin proves she can stay cool while standing next to the sun. As a Carlin-phile, I began reading hoping to peek behind the curtains of Earth’s funniest man. I got more than a peek. Carlin opens the flood lights onto her childhood and the dysfunction in her house and in her mind. Her personal growth and awareness of self is inspiring. Kelly’s stories are hilarious and so personal, at times felt like I was reading her diary. For anyone that’s has ever not been sure who they are, this book is for you. There is a landing spot. Let Kelly Carlin be your beacon.” —Jay Mohr
“As a fan, this book is essential. As a comic, this book is profound.” —Margaret Cho
“A Carlin Home Companion is one hell of a ride. With her unique perspective, Kelly Carlin shines a light on George Carlin, and gives great insight into a man who was a hero to many, but a father to one.” —Bill Maher
“Kelly tells a much-needed, revealing story about what it means to grow up in the shadow of fame and overcome dysfunctional, show-business-family patterns on the way to her own successful performing and writing career” —Booklist
“George Carlin spent his life dissecting the American psyche. Now his daughter Kelly continues the family tradition, wielding a scalpel of her own as she lays bare her life as a child, and an adult child, in the Carlin household. A brave and, naturally, hilarious book.” —Dana Gould
“In the hands of an accomplished writer, with a lifetime supply of research, this story would be a fascinating read. In Kelly’s hands, we get SO much more. Ms. Carlin has shared her firsthand knowledge in a masterful, hilarious and heartbreaking memoir of, and dedication to, one of the greatest comedic minds and performers in American history. Filled with wit, charm, and genuine, if not extraordinary prose. Bravo, Kelly!” —Kevin Pollak
“Kelly Carlin has humanized her father, in a way that doesn’t hold back and through her brilliant writing, brings him to life in a whole new way. In this book she shows she has her father’s talent for writing, his awesome humanity, and a good dose of his twisted comedic mind.” —Lizz Winstead
“The daughter of the great comedian speaks: funny and moving.” —Robert Klein
“A heartwarming, hysterical read! Carlin the younger evokes a version of Carlin the senior we never had the pleasure of knowing: George Carlin the Dad! A Carlin Home Companion may be Kelly Carlin’s story specifically, but it’s also the story of the American family in general.” —Kevin Smith
“A Carlin Home Companion, which simultaneously documents Kelly’s own attempts at self-discovery, is a must for fans who want to understand the legend behind the mic” —Mother Jones
“Highly readable… Told with candor, humor, and good L.A. gossip…, the tale of Carlin’s journey… is one of trauma well told and triumph well earned.” —Playboy
“George Carlin’s daughter offers and intimate look at her life growing up with a comedy legend… A funny, honest, and compassionate account of growing up with a master of comedy.” —Kirkus Reviews
“George Carlin gave us all so much to be thankful for, not least of which is his daughter Kelly. Her affection and admiration for her father jump off the page. And like her dad, her writing is funny, courageous and wise; this book is a glowing testament to them both. An inspiring and beautiful read.” —Paul Reiser
George Carlin’s daughter offers an intimate look at her life growing up with a comedy legend. Kelly Carlin was the only child of a father who started doing stand-up “on the stoops on his block, imitating the priests, cops and shopkeepers of [his New York City] neighborhood.” By the time she was 3, the family moved from Manhattan to Hollywood, where her father began to taste the success he had always dreamed of. But notoriety had its price. Carlin and her mother, Brenda, were often alone while George was out on the road performing. Brenda began to turn to alcohol and drugs to assuage the pain of separation and—in accordance with her husband’s wishes—of being unable to seek a life and career outside the home. Tired of being a “performing monkey” who entertained without touching on what he considered to be the truths of his times, George outgrew his early image as a clean-cut performer. By the early 1970s, he was routinely dropping acid, ingesting “ridiculous amounts of cocaine” and openly challenging the establishment with fiercely provocative comedy. Meanwhile, the Carlin household descended into chaos. Brought up without a clear sense of herself, the directionless author became involved in abusive relationships, a pattern she broke only after deciding to return to college in her late 20s. From that moment on, her “poor Hollywood rich kid” story evolves into an even more compelling one about a woman who struggles to come to terms with the parents she loved but whose choices and permissiveness caused her to stumble as a young adult. Without casting blame on either parent, Carlin emerges from the troubled shadow of her family. She becomes a self-aware woman able to appreciate the contributions both made to her life and—in the case of her father, the comedic “god you could smoke a joint with”—to the world. A funny, honest, and compassionate account of growing up with a master of comedy.