Earlier this year Longform reprinted this 1982 Playboy Interview with our man George Carlin.
Playboy: From 1962 until about 1970, you were a straight comic with a constantly ascending career. You continued working the Playboy Clubs, became a successful opening act in Las Vegas, then broke into TV. By your early 30s, you found yourself becoming rich and famous as a mainstream performer. But, as they say, were you happy?
Carlin: I was happy about my success, but I was also frustrated, because I was sublimating the long-standing angers that I still hadn’t begun to deal with. I mean, the night clubs were full of businessmen, and I hated them madly. But I had to repress my hatred, and that took its toll. I had a number of angry confrontations, including one at a Las Vegas hotel and another at a Playboy Club, and found myself back at the coffeehouses, where I’d started. And the colleges. Before Vegas, I’d been a folk comic on Bleecker Street in New York and Wells Street in Chicago. So when I made my break in 1970, I said, “I gotta go back to those people. They’ll understand me. They’ll let me sing my song.” And those audiences did make me feel comfortable. I fed on them. I got out all the anger I’d repressed in my teens and 20s. Looking back on it, I suspect that whole period from 1970 to 1976—the albums, the college tours, the cocaine—was all just a way of completing my adolescence. When I was really an adolescent, I was engaged and in the Air Force and making adult decisions. I never really got to finish the angry, screaming, rebellious part of my youth. Then, when I was in my 30s, the country seemed to go through its own adolescence. Anger and rebellion and drug experimentation and outrageous music and clothing—all the typical manifestations of adolescent behavior were suddenly present in American society, and I just fell right into it. The country’s mood allowed me to finish that chapter of my own life.