Fact Check

George Carlin on Aging

E-mail offers George Carlin's views on aging?

Published June 27, 2008


Glurge:   E-mail offers George Carlin's views on aging.


Example:   [Collected via e-mail, June 2008]

George Carlin's Views on Aging

Do you realize that the only time in our lives when we like to get old is when we're kids? If you're less than 10 years old, you're so excited about aging that you think in fractions.

'How old are you?' 'I'm four and a half!' You're never thirty-six and a half. You're four and a half, going on five! That's the key.

You get into your teens, now they can't hold you back. You jump to the next number, or even a few ahead.

'How old are you?' 'I'm gonna be 16!' You could be 13, but hey, you're gonna be 16! And then the greatest day of your life ... . You become 21. Even the words sound like a ceremony . YOU BECOME 21. YESSSS!!!

But then you turn 30. Oooohh, what happened there? Makes you sound like bad milk! He TURNED; we had to throw him out. There's no fun now, you're Just a sour-dumpling. What's wrong? What's changed?

You BECOME 21, you TURN 30, then you're PUSHING 40. Whoa! Put on the brakes, it's all slipping
away. Before you know it, you REACH 50 and your dreams are gone.

But wait!!! You MAKE it to 60. You didn't think you would!

So you BECOME 21, TURN 30, PUSH 40, REACH 50 and MAKE it to 60.

You've built up so much speed that you HIT 70! After that it's a day-by-day thing; you HIT Wednesday!

You get into your 80's and every day is a complete cycle; you HIT lunch; you TURN 4:30 ; you REACH bedtime. And it doesn't end there. Into the 90s, you start going backwards; 'I Was JUST 92.'

Then a strange thing happens. If you make it over 100, you become a little kid again. 'I'm 100 and a half!'

May you all make it to a healthy 100 and a half!!


1. Throw out nonessential numbers. This includes age, weight and height. Let the doctors worry about them. That is why you pay 'them.'

2. Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down.

3. Keep learning. Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening, whatever. Never let the brain idle. 'An idle mind is the devil's workshop.' And the devil's name is Alzheimer's.

4. Enjoy the simple things.

5. Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath.

6. The tears happen. Endure, grieve, and move on. The only person, who is with us our entire life, is ourselves. Be ALIVE while you are alive.

7. Surround yourself with what you love , whether it's family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, whatever. Your home is your refuge.

8. Cherish your health: If it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable, improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.

9. Don't take guilt trips. Take a trip to the mall, even to the next county; to a foreign country but NOT to where the guilt is.

10. Tell the people you love that you love them, at every opportunity.

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

And if you don't send this to at least 8 people - who cares? But do share this with someone. We all need to live life to its fullest each day!!


Origins:   On 22 June 2008, at the age of 71, comedian George Carlin succumbed to a heart attack. His death provoked a resurgence of interest in the Internet-circulated piece on aging that has long been attributed to him. (As we've discovered, just about any unsourced list of witty observations about politics and social mores will eventually become credited to George Carlin as it passes from inbox to inbox, such as "Paradox of Our Time," a 'things were better in the good old days' essay executed in the form of a comparison list, "I'm a Bad American," a point-form essay advancing the cause of intolerance, "Hurricane Rules," another point-form essay purporting to offer advice but in reality chiding the people of New Orleans for the alleged misdeeds of some who chose to attempt to ride out Hurricane Katrina instead of evacuating, "Gas Crisis Solution," suggesting U.S. troops be brought home to catch illegal aliens to be shipped off to Iraq to fight in their place, and "New Rules for 2006," a list of behavior enjoinders for the new millennia).

"George Carlin's Views on Aging" began circulating on the Internet in November 2002. While our first sighting of it included the "You're never thirty-six and a half" diatribe, the ten-point list on "How to Stay Young," and the coda about life not being measured by the number of breaths taken, the piece has subsequently come to us in various ways: with all three parts intact, with just the first two included, with just the first part, or with just the second part. All versions are attributed to Carlin, however.

Yet it's not George Carlin's work, said David Spatz of the Bergen County Record in 2006. Likewise, a correction to a 2004 Chicago Daily Herald article asserting Carlin as the author stated that the "Author of the tips for staying young is unknown."

George Carlin posted on his own web site about such soapboxings:


Floating around the Internet these days, posted and e-mailed back and forth, are a number of writings attributed to me, and I want people to know they're not mine. Don't blame me.

Some are essay-length, some are just short lists of one and two-line jokes, but if they're flyin' around the Internet, they're probably not mine. Occasionally, a couple of jokes on a long list might have come from me, but not often. And because most of this stuff is really lame, it's embarrassing to see my name on it.

And that's the problem. I want people to know that I take care with my writing, and try to keep my standards high. But most of this "humor" on the Internet is just plain stupid. I guess hard-core fans who follow my stuff closely would be able to spot the fake stuff, because the tone of voice is so different. But a casual fan has no way of knowing, and it bothers me that some people might believe I'd actually be capable of writing some of this stuff.

Carlin offered this bit of wisdom for discerning whether he wrote any of various items attributed to him: "Nothing you see on the Internet is mine unless it came from one of my albums, books, HBO shows, or appeared on my website."

As to who actually penned the piece, the evidence points to comedian Larry Miller. Some people recall seeing him perform it as part of his routine, and the following bit is attributed to him in a 1998 book:

If you're less than ten years old you're so excited about aging you think in fractions. "How old are you?" "Six and a half!" You're never thirty-six and a half. Then a strange thing happens. If you make it over 100 you become a kid again. "104. And a half!"

He's seen performing the bit in this video.

Two other Larry Miller pieces have previously gained widespread Internet circulation while ascribed to different sources. In 2002, his essay decrying a tendency to minimalize the horror of terrorism and society's washing its hands of problems that don't yield to easy solutions ("You Say You Want a Resolution") rocketed through cyberspace attributed to Gen. Richard E. Hawley, a U.S. Air Force general, and that same year saw his essay about the Arab-Israeli conflict ("A Brief Overview of the Situation") credited to funny man Dennis Miller.

Barbara "miller time" Mikkelson

Last updated:   4 August 2011


  Brown, Judy.   Joke Soup.

    Kansas City, MO: Andrews McMeel Publishing, 1998.   ISBN 0-8362-6754-0   (p. 4).

    Mabley, Jack.   "Bits and Pieces of Wisdom from Here, There and Everywhere."

    Chicago Daily Herald.   18 January 2004   (p.17).

    Spatz, David.   "Faking Carlin; Internet Entries Are Not His Work."

    The [Bergen County] Record.   15 December 2006   (p.G37).

    Chicago Daily Herald.   "Correction."

    20 January 2004   (p.17).

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