Audiobook Review: A Carlin Home Companion

Released in 2015, A Carlin Home Companion is Kelly Carlin’s account of what it was like growing up the daughter of the comedic icon, George Carlin. The audiobook version, available on Downpour, is narrated by the author. Read on for my thoughts on this audiobook.

Publisher’s Summary

Truly the voice of a generation, George Carlin gave the world some of the most hysterical and iconic comedy routines of the last 50 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 20th 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 audiobook includes bonus audio recordings of George Carlin and a conversation between Kelly Carlin and Garry Shandling.

My Thoughts

Nearly 12 hours in length, A Carlin Home Companion is a thorough chronicle of Kelly Carlin’s life with her father. It’s interesting to hear her perspective on George because she was on the inside. All of us admired his work from the outside. So, her unique perspective sheds a new light on George the man and George the comedian.

Kelly’s narration is pleasant to listen to. Her speaking voice is clear and expressive. And I didn’t detect any issues with the production. It’s definitely worth listening to more than once and is perfect for knocking out a few chapters while walking, driving, or doing chores around the house.

George Carlin was a one-of-a-kind comedic genius. While some of the hard truths revealed in Kelly’s book were challenging to accept, like all of us, George was a human being; and human beings are flawed. Listening to her book after enjoying her father’s posthumous autobiography and HBO documentary, provided me with a wealth of context I otherwise wouldn’t have. All George Carlin fans should pick up a copy of this audiobook because it’ll bring you a little bit closer to fully understanding George.

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