Tuesday, June 24, 2008

George Carlin, JFK, Joe Kennedy, and Being an Irish Catholic

On Larry King's CNN tribute to George Carlin, who died earlier this week, a band of comedians, including Jerry Seinfeld, remembered one of the truly great American humorists of our lifetime. Near the end of the program, Hugh Hefner, who helped introduce Carlin to America on his old "Playboy After Dark" television show, told a story of going to watch Carlin at a Chicago club with Joseph P. Kennedy, the father of President John F. Kennedy. Carlin was a young comedian who perfected a dead-on imitation of JFK. Hefner recalls that old man Kennedy didn't laugh that night. "He definitely wasn't amused," recalled Hefner. (See that video below).

Joe Kennedy may have been the only Irish-Catholic in America who didn't find Carlin funny. I first heard Carlin's routine "I Used To Be An Irish Catholic" when I attended St. Anthony's High School on Long Island, where there were more than a few Irish Catholics like myself. (An explanation of my family tree is disclosed in the beginning of "The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings"). Carlin's recollection of going to confession and the different types of Irish-American accents to be found in New York City is hilarious. That video is also attached here.

45 Years Ago -- JFK Became The First U.S. President To Visit Ireland

On June 26, 1963, President John F. Kennedy arrived in Ireland, the first U.S. president to visit this land, and he spoke about the "emerald thread" tying together the two lands through the immigration of millions of Irish to America. Above is the first page from my book, "The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings" that recalls that visit and, throughout the book, examines the influence of the Kennedys' Irish Catholic immigrant background on their public and private lives.