15 George Carlin Quotes That Are as True Now as They Were Then

George Carlin, a legendary comedian and social critic, revolutionized stand-up comedy with his irreverent style, sharp wit, and fearless commentary on taboo topics. Born on May 12, 1937, in New York City, Carlin rose to fame in the 1960s and 1970s with his countercultural humor and satirical observations on language, politics, religion, and the human condition. Renowned for his brilliant wordplay and provocative insights, Carlin’s comedy challenged societal norms and sparked thought-provoking conversations. Throughout his career, he fearlessly tackled controversial subjects, pushing boundaries and leaving an indelible mark on comedy and culture.

1. On the nature of life

George Carlin staring at the audience while doing standup

“Some people see things that are and ask, ‘Why?’ Some people dream of things that never were and ask, ‘Why not?’ Some people have to go to work and don’t have time for all that.”

2. On staying at your job

George Carlin doing standup in 2001

“Most people work just hard enough not to get fired and get paid just enough money not to quit.”

3. On consumerism

George Carlin looking sideways at the audience while doing standup in 2001

“A house is just a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get more stuff.”

4. On caterpillars and butterflies

“The caterpillar does all the work, but the butterfly gets all the publicity.”

5. On arguing with “idiots”

George Carlin doing standup

“Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.”

6. On buying bottled water

George Carlin doing standup in 1992

“Ever wonder about those people who spend $2 apiece on those little bottles of Evian water? Try spelling Evian backward.”

7. On mob rule

George Carlin doing standup in 1992

“Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.”

8. On the average person’s intelligence

George Carlin doing standup in 1978

“Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.”

9. On teaching your children

George Carlin doing standup

“Don’t just teach your children to read. Teach them to question what they read. Teach them to question everything.”

10. On the hollowness of modern life

George Carlin doing standup

 “We have multiplied our possessions but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often. We’ve learned how to make a living but not a life. We’ve added years to life, not life to years.”

11. On finding happiness through possessions

“Trying to be happy by accumulating possessions is like trying to satisfy hunger by taping sandwiches all over your body.”

12. On the American dream

George Carlin doing standup

“That’s why they call it the American Dream, because you have to be asleep to believe it.”

13. On the monkey on your back

George Carlin doing standup

“Just ‘cause you got the monkey off your back doesn’t mean that the circus has left town.”

14. On bi-partisan politics

George carlin in a black sweater doing standup

“‘Bipartisan’ usually means that a larger-than-usual deception is being carried out.”

15. On other drivers

“Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?”