Admittedly, the premise of clean George Carlin jokes might be flawed. considering how zealously the comedian pushed the boundaries of the ongoing debate over profanity and free speech. It’s been 50 years since Carlin recorded the legendary “7 Dirty Words” monologue as part of his Class Clown album — a bit placing him in the middle of a fight about obscenity standards that would continue even after its ascent to the Supreme Court. But does he have any clean jokes?
But Carlin’s comedy is brilliant. And the brilliant HBO Max George Carlin’s American Dream reminds us why he’s so important and essential. Fourteen years after his death, his social commentary still cuts and his punchlines absolutely deliver. Your kids will love him someday, even if they’re not old enough for the full Carlin experience yet.
Until they are, here are five George Carlin dad jokes that you can share with your kids without worrying they’ll repeat dirty words at school.
The Supermarket (1977)
In a rather breezy routine, Carlin finds a handful of ways to make the mundane task of grocery shopping both interesting and hilarious. And one of those ways is weaponizing his pet peeves to mess with other people. He suggests filling an entire cart with groceries, even practicing at home if you have to. “Then go on down to the checkout line and look for a man with just one item,” he says before taking an anticipatory pause. “And ask if you can get ahead of him!”
Have a Nice Day (1981)
Johnny Carson was known for welcoming the best and brightest comedians onto his stage and onto his couch, but booking half of stand-up comedy’s Mount Rushmore in Carlin and Richard Pryor on the same night is a flex even for him.
Carlin kicks off the show with a routine that eases into the premise of no longer attempting to have nice days. “I’m sort of beyond the nice day,” he deadpans. “I feel as though I’ve had my share. Why not let someone else have a few?”
From there he launches into the torment of people constantly encouraging him to have a nice day, seamlessly switching between different characters thanks to his repertoire of voices, mannerisms, and facial expressions. It’s human cartooning at its finest.
At least half of the questions parents field from their kids are related to time. And because kids struggle with the intricacies of timekeeping, we often get creative in how we answer those queries and their inevitable follow-ups. Carlin points out how confounding pretty much any and all descriptors of time can be, and he certainly recalls a lot of them over the course of five minutes.
“Which is quicker, a jiffy or a flash? I think there are two flashes in a jiffy, myself,” he quips at one point. It’s definitely a routine to make some time for.
Carlin gets Seussical to demystify his long hair, which wasn’t accepted in all social circles back in the early 1970s. Kids won’t catch all of the punchlines, but Carlin’s use of rhyming, rhythm, and singsong voice is guaranteed to draw them in and get some giggles.
“Baseball is unlike any other sport,” Carlin begins before pointing out the numerous ways that America’s pastime differs from American football. Especially funny is how he employs a gruff voice for football descriptions, while baseball gets a more pitchy (pun intended) treatment. “In football, you receive a penalty,” Carlin grumbles before jumping to a higher register and brightening his facial expression. “But in Baseball you make an error! Whoops!”
Watch George Carlin's American Dream on HBO Max now. (But maybe not with the kids!)