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George Carlin has come a long way since he first appeared on the nightclub circuit in the early 1960s as a fresh-faced, preppy comedian who created amusing stage characters such as "Wonderful Wino" and "Al Sleet, the Hippy-Dippy Weatherman."
Carlin, now 66, is probably still best known for his groundbreaking routine about "The Seven Words You Can Never Use on Television," which got him arrested in 1972. Since then, he's become one of America's best-known and most enduring stand-up comics, with dozens of albums and cable TV specials.
He's also written two best-selling books, Brain Droppings (850,000 copies sold) and Napalm & Silly Putty (600,000 copies), and is finishing up another, When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops?, which is scheduled for publication this fall.
Carlin, who will appear for a pair of shows on Sunday at the Ritz Theatre in Tiffin, still plays nearly 100 live dates a year, but more and more, he's also been making time for appearances in films. Over the years he's had bit parts in such forgettable movies as With Six You Get Eggroll (1968), Car Wash (1976), and Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989).
He graduated to slightly meatier roles in Dogma (1999), in which he played a hip church bishop, and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001), playing an aging freeway hitchhiker.
Last month, in the movie Jersey Girl, Carlin had his most substantial role yet, that of a street cleaner who takes in his widowed son (Ben Affleck) and his son's newborn daughter. If his work in Jersey Girl leads to more opportunities as a character actor, that would be fine with Carlin, who admits to a longtime urge to be an actor.
In the meantime, he's just as happy playing the on-stage role of the cantankerous comic, particularly when he's making caustic observations about touchy subjects - including religion, one of his favorite targets.
"I like bothering people," he said in a telephone interview. "I really enjoy disturbing people."
George Carlin will appear Sunday at the Ritz Theatre, 30 South Washington St., Tiffin. Opening act is comedian Dennis Blair. Show times are 3 and 7 p.m., and tickets are $42 to $64. For information or tickets, call 419-448-8544 or go online at www.ritztheatre.org.
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